Monday, October 5, 2009

Cloth Diapers and Planet Ultra Detergent

Many of you know by now that we decided to cloth diaper our youngest last year when he was born. While many of our friends were “going cloth” with their babies, we didn’t just jump on the band wagon. ;o) Friends provided us with websites to check out, price comparisons to read, brands to research…and in the end, we feel we made a cost-effective decision that was right for our household. We will also use the diapers with #3 when he/she debuts in March, saving even more money. Cha-ching!

However, moving to a bigger house four months ago also brought with it laundering challenges. We found out within a week or two that we have very, very (and I do mean VERY) hard water. Besides noticing that my bath towels were coming out dingy after a full wash cycle, we also noticed the telltale odor that stayed in the baby’s cloth diapers, even after two wash cycles. The real kicker, though, was when we would change his diaper and the ammonia smell was so strong it would burn his skin and our nostrils. Really, really not cool.

I recently had the opportunity to try out Planet Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent on Caedon’s diapers to see if it would kill the mineral build-up problem. You see, you can’t just wash cloth diapers with any old detergent, as most of them on the market have additives and stuff that stays in your clothes to keep them (and you) smelling fresh. With cloth diapers, additives and build-up are a nightmare and make it so that the diapers don’t get fully clean, leading to yucky smells. Planet Ultra is free of dyes, phosphates, softeners and enzymes, making it a perfect candidate for cloth.

The first diaper load came out smelling clean and ammonia-free. Success! The second load, however, contained a lot more, umm, “soiled” diapers, and after the two wash cycles, I wasn’t too happy with the odor coming from my washing machine. The diapers smelled like I just rinsed them with the hose outside and did nothing else. Bummer. (I did follow all instructions, adding the correct amount at the right time, etc.) I did one last wash cycle, adding a little white vinegar to the water (which is known to help with hard water issues), and that did the trick.

While I do praise Planet for making an eco-friendly detergent that has great potential for clothing, I cannot say I’d use it again for my cloth diapers. I need my son’s hiney-coverings to come out clean after each wash and not need a third wash cycle. While Planet is probably great for regular clothing and softer water, I’m not so sure it can handle the hard water flowing through my house.

At this point, I might need to just stick with vinegar (Sarah’s suggestion) and then bleach the diapers once per month, as suggested by BumGenius (the diaper brand we use).

If you have hard water and/or if you cloth diaper, do you have a favorite detergent that you use? Any recommendations for me?

1 comment:

AMANDA said...

Man, that sucks! We use Charlie's soap on Aiden's diapers (and all of our laundry) and everything comes out perfectly--but we don't have hard water, so I'm not sure how it would work for you. But if you want to try it, we bought ours at Whole Foods.