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Which laundry detergent is best for cloth nappies?

When it comes to washing cloth nappies, choosing the right laundry detergent can be a bit of a challenge.  Choosing the wrong one could mean that your nappies just don’t get clean enough, become smelly or possibly even damage the nappies.  Different people find that they like different laundry detergents depending on their situation, so hopefully this will help you to choose the right laundry detergent for your cloth nappies.

What to avoid in a laundry detergent.

There are a number of things that can be in laundry detergent you really don’t want to use on cloth nappies.  Many commercial laundry detergents contain softeners, these can build up in the fibres of the cloth nappies.  When they build up in the fibres, they can stop the nappy from absorbing liquid.  Softeners can also react with urine and cause the nappies to start smelling.  There are other additives in laundry detergent that can also cause similar problems, and if you are having problems with smells or leaks, trying a different liquid or powder might make all the difference.  As the effect on the cloth nappies seems to vary for different people, depending on what your water is like, so it is hard to create a definitive list of what will and will not work for your nappies.

Choosing the right laundry detergent for cloth nappies


Many cloth nappy companies suggest that you shouldn’t use laundry detergent that contains enzymes.  The concern is that it could damage the pul or fibres.  There are some enzymes that will break down the fibres of the nappy, they are really only likely to work on natural fibres, and are usually in the laundry detergent to make clothes look newer for longer, but probably will not effect the PUL.  A laundry detergent with enzymes in is unlikely to damage your nappies, although you should always make sure that your little one doesn’t react to the enzymes.  Always check the manufacturers guidelines though, as many manufacturers have a warranty that will be voided by using laundry detergent with enzymes in it.

Powder or liquid

Many people prefer to use a laundry liquid on their nappies, rather than powder as you don’t have to worry about it dissolving properly.  If you are worried about this when using powder, you can always mix it with a little warm water before adding it to your washing machine.  This way you know that it will all dissolve and not leave powder marks on the cloth nappies.

Laundry detergent for cloth nappies

Eco alternatives

Some people prefer to use eco alternatives rather than traditional laundry detergents.  Eco laundry detergents are a good choice, although you can still get build up which can cause problems with cloth nappies.  Sometimes the natural salts and oils can react with your water and cause smells.  Don’t assume that just because you’re using an eco alternative, it isn’t causing the problems.  Many people use soap nuts or washing balls, which don’t cause build up at all, and are worth considering, although these don’t usually result in really white nappies and might not remain stains, although the nappies are actually clean.

Cloth nappy specific detergents

Another alternative is to use a cloth nappy specific detergents for their nappies, these are laundry detergents that have been formulated specifically for use with cloth nappies.  Although these can be great to use on your cloth nappies, they can be a little expensive, and are not really necessary.  If you want to use these then there’s nothing wrong with that, but a little trial and error with laundry detergents that you can get in the supermarket, and you can find the perfect laundry detergent for your cloth nappies.

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