So in my first post about my Quest for the Best Laundry routine, I confessed my desire to find a wash routine for cloth diapers that combined both efficiency and ecology. I wish I could report back telling you I’d found my match made in cloth diaper heaven. Unfortunately, I only found a compromise that I can live with.
When I first started cloth diapering, I, like many Moms, was convinced I would be doing harm to my diapers if I used anything but “cloth diaper safe” detergent. I no longer subscribe to this belief, and I am comfortable using any detergent that doesn’t contain an added fabric softener, in theory. However, I don’t like perfume in any of my products (cleaning, body care, etc.) unless it’s some essential oils or other natural fragrance, so that eliminates most commercial detergents. Despite the fragrance, I tried Tide Ultra in my experiment because so many swear by it.
Note: This post is based on my own anecdotal evidence. I am not a scientist, nor did I conduct my “experiments” with much scientific rigor. I am in no way suggesting that you should follow my routine to the letter, nor that it is the only routine that will work. I am not affiliated with Tide nor do I have any hard feelings for Laundry Tarts!
Here was my “experimental” procedure:
~ On October 6th (a month ago, more or less) all of my diapers were stripped using Laundry Tarts Strip It. >>> This worked great, after the stripping and rinsing, none of my diapers had ammonia stinkies.*
~ I divided my stash in half and experimented with Laundry Tarts on half and Tide Ultra HE Powder on the other.
~ I tried a variety of wash cycle combos and temperatures, but it always combined some kind of pre-rinse, a Super Wash cycle, followed by some kind of rinse. In Montreal we have borderline hard water.
~ Tide has a very strong smell, and even after a full normal cycle with just warm water, the diapers retain the smell of Tide.
~ After one month using Tide, even my overnight diapers, which I have stopped pre-rinsing, are totally ammonia-stinkies free. I co-sleep with Cub, so if his overnight diapers were getting nasty, I would know all about it. Also, his diaper pail doesn’t stink like it used to, even by day 3, the smell is significantly less noxious! Today I put Cub in a diaper that had missed the stripping procedure, and it served as an excellent “control” diaper, since as soon as he peed in it, it was stinky! His stash of diapers now washed in Tide for the past month post-stripping do NOT stink once he pees in them, and trust me, I’ve shoved my nose into almost every one.
~ Laundry Tarts smells lovely in the bag (I had the Pina Colada scent) and the scent does not stay on the diapers once they’re out of the wash.
~ Laundry Tarts didn’t work for us, and this anecdote is why I simply stopped using it on my diapers:
I ran a full normal cycle on warm as a “pre-rinse,” then a Super Wash cycle with 3 scoops of Laundry Tarts (more than suggested) on hot. I had ONE diaper with poop on it, enough diapers in the load for adequate agitation, and the poopy diaper in question had been thoroughly rinsed prior to hitting the washing machine. This diaper was comprised of a fleece liner, an AMP hemp booster and a Flip Overnight Insert. All three parts were still stained after the wash cycles, but stains are not an indicator of dirtiness. I smelled them, and they still absolutely reeked of poop.
If a full normal cycle as a pre-rinse, then a Super Wash on hot with more than the recommended amount of LT detergent couldn’t handle that tiny bit of poop, unfortunately, I can’t handle Laundry Tarts. I’m disappointed by this result, and perhaps more rinses or some kind of booster might help LT along in the battle, but my goal is to avoid added steps and avoid having to strip my diapers often.
Tide is many things I don’t like, but the “pros” outweigh the “cons.” I would, in the long run, prefer to use a more “chemically” detergent that actual gets the feces and urine out of Cub’s diapers than a gentler one that causes his diapers to stink after only a few washes and therefore means his skin is touching fabric containing a build up of urine and feces rather than a fabric containing traces of a “harsher” detergent and perfume. From an ecological standpoint, if Tide continues to allow me to not have to strip my diapers and not have to run multiple wash cycles with lots of extra water, then I definitely see that as a strong point. Would I rather a more natural detergent? Absolutely. Do I want stinky diapers? Of course not.
That being said, I’m not ready to stick with Tide Ultra because I don’t like scented products, and though I have grown accustomed to the smell of Tide, I don’t want to be accustomed to it! I have a bottle of Tide Free for Cold Water (HE) waiting for my next round of testing.
The current routine, which is working and which I will continue to test as my new “control” routine (when I start trying the Tide Free) is as follows:
16-20 diapers washed at a time, along with wipes and wet bags;
Washing every 2-3 days;
Overnight diapers are not pre-rinsed, and there are at least 2 per load;
Poopy diapers are rinsed if necessary;
I use the Tide Ultra Powder for HE (with acti lift) up to the 2nd line;
I do a warm “Quick Wash” cycle for heavy soils (39 minutes) with no detergent;
I do a hot “Super Wash” cycle for heavy soils with Tide;
I do a warm “Quick Wash” cycle again to rinse out as much of the Tide smell as possible.
I dry everything on low.
* #1 sign of ammonia stinkies in this house is smelling fine out of the wash, but immediately stinky when peed in. I sniffed a lot of peed-in diapers over the past month!