i want to start off by saying that our wash routine in the beginning was bit different than the recommended cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse, to avoid spending the time and money on three washes [since we didn't have our own washer and there is no "rinse" option at the laundromat]. then we got a front-loader and well, that was just the biggest headache i've ever had while cloth diapering. finally, about a month ago, we traded the front-loader for a top-loader and i finally feel i have my sanity back. so it could have been that the problem i had with some of these detergents had more to do with the wash routines or wash machines than the actual detergent. also, keep in mind that for whatever wild, unexplainable reason, some detergents work great for some people, and not for others. two people could have the same kind of water, washer, and wash routine, and a detergent will work great for one mom and not the other. i don't know why. but here is my experience with detergents i've used.
one cold wash with no detergent, one hot with detergent.
we decided to start off with charlie's soap because it is what is recommended in the green mountain diaper booklet that is sent with the diapers (very helpful by the way, if you are new to cloth). we used charlie's for about five months, and i can tell you that i was not in love with it. my diapers always smelled musty. sometimes when they dried outside on the line, they had that outdoor smell. and not the pleasant outdoor smell, but the smell your kids smell like when they've been playing outside in the heat for a while. yeah, that. they were always very crunchy (i could hold one up straight in the air after it dried -- if you can do this, your diapers probably aren't getting rinsed out well enough) and i never felt they were really clean, but i never had leak, rash, or build-up issues with this detergent. i wouldn't buy it again.
member's mark (sam's) ecoresponsible liquid laundry detergent:
one cold wash with no detergent, one hot wash with detergent.
we used this detergent for a short amount of time in between charlie's and tide. surprisingly (especially now that i know what conventional detergents can do to cloth) we didn't have any rash, leak, or build-up issues with this detergent. the diapers seemed to get pretty clean, but were still pretty crunchy on the line. i wouldn't buy this to use with the diapers again; personally, i would not recommend a regular detergent to wash your diapers.
tide free powder:
one cold wash with no detergent, one hot wash with detergent.
at just over $3 for a big box of powdered tide, i figured it was well worth it to at least try it! after the first couple times i washed the diapers with tide, using half the recommended amount of detergent as often suggested, the prefolds diapers stunk horrible -- not just ammonia, but of poop. we stripped them, thinking maybe build-up had finally caught up with us, but they didn't just have build-up, they were not even clean. i consulted the ladies on diaperswappers.com and many of them told me that using the full amount of tide would solve my problems. i started using the full amount for every wash, and after months of using charlie's, my diapers finally smelled and felt as clean as i always thought they should. they were so clean in fact, i didn't feel the need to use detergent for both washes. river was not getting a rash and all seemed to be going well, but out of the blue one day, he started leaking horribly at the leg gussets! i didn't know at the time that this was attributed to the detergent, but i stripped the diapers (again), and when i started using a cloth-diaper friendly detergent, they stopped leaking.
regular tide liquid:
cold wash with no detergent, a hot wash with detergent, and then two more cold washes to rinse the diapers.
and i guess i hadn't learned my lesson, because when we stayed at a friend's house for a week i just used whatever detergent they had on hand to wash our diapers, which happened to be regular liquid tide. sure enough, within just a couple days the diapers started leaking again. this time i knew it was because of the detergent, and as soon as i (once again) stripped the diapers and started using my diaper detergent, the diapers went back to their normal absorbency. (moms, just know that if your diapers are leaking every hour or two, they are NOT doing their job and something is wrong! cloth diapers are not supposed to leak like that.)
in my front-loader, i would do two delicate warm washes without detergent, one hot heavy-duty wash with detergent, and seriously, like 4 or 5 rinses. each time.
rockin' green is HE compatible, but it did NOT work in my front-loading machine (honestly, i don't think anything would have worked). my diapers leaked if i did any less than the above wash routine, and i just didn't feel like they were getting clean. i won't go any further into explaining, because i tried everything in the book, from adding water to the machine to washing with giant, sopping wet towels. my best piece of advice: don't get a front-loader if you plan on using cloth. sigh.
now, with a top-loader, i did one short cold wash with no detergent, one hot heavy-duty wash with detergent, and two short cold washes without. i got to experience the glory of it when i visited my mom and used her washer for our diapers. the diapers came out smelling like... nothing! which is what cloth diapers are supposed to smell like! and they were softer and for the first time, i felt like they were actually getting clean. check out my full review of rockin' green here.
now that we have a top-loader, i do one warm wash with no detergent, one heavy-duty hot wash with detergent followed by two warm rinses, and a cold wash with no detergent.
i decided to try country save because it is so much cheaper than rockin' green, and i'm pretty happy with it. the wash routine is a little trickier than what i wrote above. i still haven't figured out the right amount of detergent to use. river is not using diapers as much so we are doing smaller loads (about 6 diapers), so using the full 2 ounces of detergent is way too much. i've been using 1 tablespoon, but i don't think that's enough because often, i have to do another wash (i gauge this by sniffing the diapers after the hot wash -- if they are still slightly smelly or musty at all, i do another hot wash with 1 tablespoon of detergent). the only thing is, when i use more detergent, there are tons of suds in the rinse cycles and i have to keep rinsing and rinsing until the suds are gone. sometimes this takes forever! however, my diapers are very clean and soft, even after hanging on the line. i do notice the microfiber inserts are harder to get clean than the prefolds, and this is a little frustrating. and lately, river is a little red in the bum, so i think he may be a little sensitive to this detergent. i'm not sure why.
this is why my favorite detergent ends up being rockin' green. 1) it rinses very well 2) he never got a rash and 3) i feel like my diapers were cleanest. as soon as the country save is all used up, i plan on getting more rockin' green.
so, now you tell me, what's your favorite detergent for diapers, and why?