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What's in Your Detergent?

Ever wonder what's really in your detergent?  What if we told you the best method of washing cloth diapers doesn't involve using Tide and other popular detergents sold in most store?

Problems with Common Detergents:  There are number of chemicals and fragrance that try to mimic the actual cleanliness of the clothes including cloth diapers.  Though on the surface stain may have come off and the clothes looking clean.  The problem with these non residue-free detergent is that they often times leave things behind if not embedded within the fibers.  Over time this can trap dirt, oil, and other debris losing it's effectiveness.  Have you noticed your fleece pants actually absorbing moisture when it's supposed to wick?  Or the 100% cotton shirt or cloth diapers are actually repelling moisture when it's supposed to be absorbing?

Non Residue-Free Detergents Build-Up:  This is a scientific fact.  Over time, the build-ups cause problems but also have been proven to actually add weight of the clothes you wear including cloth diapers.  According to School of Textiles, Fiber and Polymer Science, there were 2% change in textile weight after eight wash cycles using Tide versus other methods including residue-free detergents*.  We hear so many stories of people raving about Tide and other common detergent when they first start using them but within weeks if not months they start to have problems.  Build up is not a myth, it's science.

Chemical Make-up:  Here are some information on detergent ingredients and why it's not a necessary component in cleaning your diapers.

  1. Optical brighteners - Known as OBA's, they are nothing more than a dye to block the yellow hue and emitting blue hue making the clothes looking whiter.  It acts as a filter.  The problem?  OBA's are known to cause allergic reactions to some while it causes build-ups.
  2. Sodium borat - Known as Borax; a precursor to sodium perborate.  Though considered to be safe, it's now being regulated in Europe for possible side effects of infertility and risks to newborn.  As a food additive it's been banned in the United States.
  3. Ethanolamine - Toxic base used as a 'feed stock' for detergents.  They are flammable and corrosive in its state.
  4. Sodium sulfate - A filler used for powdered detergent.  Skin irritant.
  5. Bleach - Disinfectant.  When not properly disposed it poses risks ot the environment aside from regular use.  Most bleaching agent have very low amount of chemicals to actually disinfect (why Clorox bleach isn't exactly the best disinfecting method) when introduced with other chemicals can cause respiratory irritation including death.
  6. Perfume - Fragrance.  Masks any odors left behind.  Often times they have oil-carrier which sticks to the fibers causing build-ups.  Unless stripping is introduced, these oil will keep building up causing stink issues and harbouring bacteria growth.


There are many other chemicals used in detergents that often times cause problem; it may not happen overnight or weeks but any chemicals left behind will be touching your baby's bum aside from start having issues with your diapers.  If clothes are getting cleaned to begin with, why would these chemicals need to be added?  It's cheap to produce and can mask the problems.  

But it's not too late!  If you're having stink issues and need to strip your cloth diapers including your washer, read this article for more information.