Using My Common Scents: Trying Tide Free & Gentle
So, just to recap my Quest for the Best… In Episode 1 I discussed my problem with ammonia stinkies in our cloth diapers and my desire to find my cloth-diaper-laundry soul mate: a detergent whose cleaning properties would be on par with its eco-friendliness. In Episode 2, I discussed my admittedly unscientific comparison of Canadian-made, all natural Laundry Tarts powder and the somewhat polarizing Tide Ultra Powder (with actilift, yes!).
While Laundry Tarts did not get my diapers clean in my moderately hard water and HE front loader, Tide powder absolutely did: even overnight diapers (the main ammonia culprits) were significantly less stinky after a 12 hour slumber. So, you might wonder why there is a third installment to my quest: why fix something that isn’t broken if Tide is doing such a miraculous job?
Well, Tide is sort of the antithesis to why I’m cloth diapering in the first place. And, being the pacifist that I am, let me make it clear that I am not saying you shouldn’t use Tide! But for me, even just based on the fragrance alone, Tide is not my number one choice. I found this post by Cloth for Every Bum’s Stacy Mojica quite interesting, as it helped me understand what makes Tide such an efficient detergent, especially where hard water is concerned. The fact is, since Tide doesn’t release a full list of ingredients for its formula, we don’t really know what its dirty secrets are, and this makes me uneasy. I make my own beauty products for this same reason: I like to know what is in the products coming in contact with my body.
So, on the “for Tide Ultra HE Powder” side, we have the following:
- It is consistently getting my poopiest, most pee-soaked diapers stink-free with a simple routine (warm short cycle – hot super cycle with detergent up to line 3 for larger loads – warm short cycle);
- It is very affordable and often goes on sale;
- It’s easy to find.
On the “against Tide Ultra Powder” side, we have…
- Its overpowering fragrance (My concerns about fragrance are outlined by the EWG);
- Its undisclosed (potentially harmful) ingredients (disclosure classified as “poor” by the EWG), including 1,4 dioxane;
- Its potential as a pollutant (see EWG guide);
So what’s a girl to do? Well, I’ve been meditating a lot on my detergent choices (more than I ever imagined possible), and feel like having clean diapers against my boy’s bottom is the most important of all of my criteria for choosing a detergent. However, the fragrance of Tide Powder is just too strong for me.
First, I tried out Tide Free for Cold Water, simply because Canadian Tire was sold out of Free & Gentle. Now, let me confess that I cannot say for certain whether it didn’t work for me or if it was simply a matter of the diapers that were previously washed in Laundry Tarts having leftover stinkies. Thus, take my anecdote with a grain of salt: I didn’t find that Tide Free for Cold worked, but there were a bunch of uncontrolled variables.
I had maintained half of my stash washed exclusively in Tide Powder as a “control,” and they continued stink-free, though perfumed. (And yes, I’m confident that the perfume isn’t just masking odour.) I used Rockin’ Green Funk Rock to get the remainder of my stash ammonia free once again (and it worked like a charm!), and am now using Tide Free & Gentle HE Liquid with a warm short cycle – hot super wash with up to line 3 – warm short cycle routine. I’ve run out of Tide Powder and do not plan to re-purchase it for the reasons mentioned above. Tide F&G is not the picture of perfection either according to the EWG, though it has a higher grade than Original HE Powder.
So far, so good on the Tide HE Free & Gentle Liquid, but it’s only been a couple of wash cycles, so I will continue to keep you updated.
Regardless of if I’m satisfied with F & G as far as keeping the stinkies at bay, I don’t think my quest is over. I still want to find a detergent that is gentler in terms of environmental impact and potentially harmful ingredients, and on this point I’m willing to shell out a bit more dough.
Perhaps depending on what goes on sale when my bottle of F & G starts to dwindle, I will be looking to try…
Rachel from the Niagara Cloth Diaper Service put me on the trail of Nature Clean, a detergent I used at some point for my own clothes and on Cub’s cloth (when he was EBF and wearing prefolds, so, prior to any stink issues occuring). Rachel had a variety of detergents tested, and Nature Clean came out on top. In its HE Liquid form it gets a C from the EWG but an A in its powdered form. It is readily available in most major chains.
Over at the Cloth Diaper Compendium, this is one of the only more “natural” detergent that seems to have some happy followers. It’s pretty easily available in most large chains. Surprisingly, in its Free & Clear Liquid formula, it scores worse than Tide F&G according to the EWG. The powdered formula gets top rating.
Suzi over at Cloth Diaper Addicts swears by the stuff in combination with Funk Rock for every load. I also have a fellow Montreal Mama who has been using it on her BGs since her son was born without any issues. My only hesitation is the price tag! Certainly compared to Tide, and even compared to the more natural options above, RnG is just so darn pricey considering I wash diapers every 2-3 days, and will be doing so for the next couple of years as my brood expands. Adding in even just a teaspoon of Funk Rock on diaper loads gets pricey too.
I’m also curious to try La Parisienne – Delicate Care ; Dye & Perfume Free because it’s very readily available in Québec.
***Make sure you buy the right Tide F & G for your machine. For HE washers, it is only available in a liquid.