Updated as of Nov. 15, 2014 to “hot” main wash, which I find is even more effective.
Quest for the Best Wash Routine: Switching to Kirkland Ultra Clean Free & Clear
So I think I’ve finally found a wash routine that is working for us. Just to recap, I was trying to find something that cleaned as well as Tide Ultra Powder but without a scent and ideally gentler on the environment. (My previous posts on this topic can be found here.) Kirkland Ultra Clean Free & Clear is by no means some environmentally safe alternative to Tide… it’s probably just as bad as Tide Free & Clear. In fact, I’m having a heck of a time finding the ingredient list.
Is Kirkland Free and Clear safe for cloth diapers?
In my opinion, any detergent that is free of built-in fabric softener is fine for your cloth diapers. I have heard, anecdotally, to avoid “baby” detergents which are apparently very heavy and greasy, I cannot confirm that. Many major brands now endorse the use of any mainstream detergent without added fabric softener, including Funky Fluff and GroVia. Many other brands straight out recommend Tide or Sunlight, and if those are okay then so is Kirkland. Personally, I think it’s important to use an unscented and dye-free detergent if possible.
How to choose your wash cycles:
All washers are different. In case it helps you select the cycles on your washer, my “Normal Wash, Heavy” cycle is 59 minutes, and the “Super Wash, Heavy” cycle is 75 minutes. I have an Amana HE washer:
GroVia recommends making sure your diapers are exposed “to the proper concentration of detergent for at least 45-50 minutes.”
What happened to eco-friendly options?
I gave Nature Clean the old college try, I really did. But my diapers were, sadly, still stinky. Tide may have given my son an allergic reaction, but I am not 100% sure. (Apparently Tide is a common cause of contact rashes, by I’m not an expert.) I am happy with Kirkland F & C because it is unscented, extremely affordable and accessible to me as a Costco member. My son isn’t reacting to it at all, and his diapers are clean, so that’s as good as it’s going to get!
I will continue to use the most environmentally friendly detergent possible on our regular laundry, and will try to console myself in the knowledge that I am only washing cloth diapers for so long, and if using a mainstream detergent that isn’t very green means I don’t have to strip my diapers all the time, then that’s at least one positive aspect!
How much Kirkland Free & Clear should you use?
As for detergent quantity, I’m not being too fussy. For a large load (about 20 diapers), I’m using the maximum amount on the measuring cup, which means up to the “bump” on the included measuring cup, or about 1/4 cup. I adjust downwards for fewer diapers. I just peek in during the final rinse to make sure things aren’t too bubbly.
The addition of washing soda in my initial rinse is potentially unnecessary. I added it because I have lots to use, and since my diapers are coming out super clean, I don’t want to make any more changes in the routine! I know a lot of Mamas who use washing soda to help with hard water, and our water is moderately hard.
Rinse out those overnight diapers!
Rinsing out my overnight inserts is also something I believe is helping my wash routine. My washer simply does not use very much water, so the super-concentrated overnight inserts need some help to get clean. I figure that tossing our totally saturated overnight inserts in my washer without rinsing them first just means I’m adding two or three urine drenched diapers to a load already full of pee and poo. Know what I mean?
What about drying?
I always put my inserts in the dryer, and if it’s just inserts, they get dried on high. If I am hanging to dry covers and all-in-ones, I use my Ikea drying rack in our bathroom. Lately, everything has been going in the dryer on low for 60 minutes.
Giving La Parisienne a try:
Recently, I’ve started testing Perfume-free/Dye-free La Parisienne using the same routine as described above, and so far am completely satisfied with the results. I am not ready to fully recommend this brand yet, as in the past I have been partial to detergents that do contain enzymes, which this one does not. Having only used it for two weeks, it’s too early to give you my definitive assessment!
Just I note that I am definitely more satisfied with La Parisienne’s ecological footprint, compared to that of Kirkland Free & Clear:
Is your wash routine working for you?
Gotta pay the bills...