• Login


Choosing reusable cloth diapers is a big decision that can lead to a rewarding journey for you and your baby. But where do you start? Here are the most commonly asked questions on how to start your cloth diaper journey.

Nicki's Diapers is a family business founded by Nicki and later joined by her husband Jesse. As a husband and wife team, they worked together to ensure the highest quality products while following responsible environmental and social business practices. The company is now located in Akron, Ohio.

The Best and Worst Detergent for Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diaper Safe Laundry Detergent.

We’ve briefly talked about this in other blogs, but here’s your reminder

“Cloth Safe” isn’t really a thing, but there are definitely detergents that are better than others.

Is the detergent you’re using the best detergent for cloth diapers?

What to Look For in the Best Detergent for Cloth Diapers

A Clean Diaper washed with the best detergent for cloth diapers

Say it with me.

Enzymes and Surfactants! They're the MVPs of cloth diaper detergents.

Those two are key players in making sure your cloth diapers are clean and are what make up the best detergents for cloth diapers.

Detergents that you use on your cloth diapers should, as a rule, be free from additives and fabric softeners.

I know it might sound a bit confusing after stating that cloth safe detergent isn’t really a thing, but you definitely want to ensure that additives such as bleach or oxi-clean aren’t included in your cloth diaper laundry detergent.

I know, I know. I just said that cloth safe detergent isn’t really a thing, but you do want to make sure that additives such as bleach or oxi-clean aren’t on the menu.

Thankfully, most packaging will indicate if they contain fabric softeners or additives such as bleach.

Scented detergents are a-okay!

Powder or Liquid: The Battle of Laundry Detergents for Cloth Diapers?

Powdered cloth diaper detergent

If you’re anything like me, you’re like powder?


I’ve been using liquid for years and I’m not using a powdered cloth diaper detergent for this, that, and the other reasons.

Keep in mind that most of our clothing and household items we wash do not contain many layers and liquid detergent washes away more easily.

With cloth diapers the opposite is true.

Powdered cloth diaper laundry detergent is more eco and budget-friendly since you’re paying for more cleaning power and less water.

I promise, the powder will rinse away and you’ll eventually be a powdered lover like myself.

Things to Avoid When Caring for Your Cloth Diapers

Dryer Sheets

Just say no.

Dryer sheets while they do cause repelling also have a pretty dark side.

You know how you have to have your car tested for emissions?

The vent of the dryer with fabric softener sheets wouldn’t pass an emissions test. Yikes.

Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners will cause massive repelling issues.

Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t use fabric softener on your towels, because it will decrease their absorbent properties?

That holds true!

If you must use a fabric softener stick to something plant-based.

Still not convinced that you can get away without fabric softeners?

Think again! Think wool!

Wool Dryer Balls are 100% wool, eco-friendly, decrease dry times, AND reduce static cling keeping your clothes and cloth diapers soft and static-free.

Best Laundry Detergents for Cloth Diapers

#1 Tide Roll Tide Roll!

I’m a walking billboard for Tide and I’m unashamed.

Tide contains water softeners, surfactants, and enzymes in just the right ratio.

Tide works well in all water types and just plain, works!

The gold standard.

The holy grail.

The everything you want in a detergent, detergent.

Dare I say the best laundry detergent for cloth diapers.

Yep! I double-dog dare!

Now I know many of you are side-eyeing me right now.

I know it’s pricey.

I know it’s not “natural”.

That’s okay!

We’re cleaning the dirtiest laundry we will ever wash.

Get the good stuff. It’s better than dealing with ammonia burns down the road.

If your family or child has sensitive skin it’s worth noting that we do also recommend the free and gentle version.

#2 Gain Laundry Detergent

 A close second in the running for the best detergent for cloth diapers.

MMMM Apple Mango Tango.

That stuff smells so good, but it’s also effective!

Gain contains slightly less water softeners than Tide, but even if you do have moderately hard water (as does most of the United States) this detergent should serve you pretty well and at a cheaper price than Tide.

This detergent deserves to be called the second best detergent for cloth diapers!

#3 Foca

A budget-friendly option that cleans effectively.

Foca is good and CHEAP, but keep in mind that this isn’t HE friendly in its powdered form and is suuuuupppeeerrr foamy.

What it does well is clean.

This budget-friendly detergent can even be added to your tide in a pinch when you’re running a bit low and can’t swing your normal big box of cloth diaper detergent.

#4 Arm and Hammer Free and Clear

Great for families with sensitive skin.

This powdered detergent is safe for families with sensitive skin.

It’s free of dyes and perfumes and will keep all of your laundry fresh and clean

#5 Pretty much anything else that’s mainstream

Any mainstream detergent - Most mainstream detergents will do the job, just make sure they contain the necessary enzymes and surfactants, and don't have any additives or fabric softeners.

Most mainstream detergents will get your diapers clean.

Just remember that they follow the aforementioned criteria:

They should contain enzymes and surfactants

They should NOT contain additives or fabric softeners.

Laundry Detergents You Should Avoid For Cloth Diapers

Diapers cleaned with laundry detergent

#1 Homemade Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent

Just don't. It's more harmful than helpful.

Stop right there.

That’s all you need to know. It’s bad. Just say no.

Okay, but you want the facts.

Homemade Laundry Soaps (I’m going to keep calling them soaps because you can’t make detergent at home. You need a lab for that!) are nothing more than some water softeners and a little bit of soap.

Laundry soaps may have worked in the past when washboards were the washing machine, but without all of that intense agitation - it’s just not going to work.

Many recipes for homemade laundry soaps also contain borax.

This laundry additive is extremely abrasive and can ruin your PUL completely.

If this isn’t enough to stop you, these soaps are not designed to rinse out of your clothes or machines.

The soap will build-up on your clothes and machine.

What does that mean?

The soap will be trapped in your clothes- along with dirt and debris.

Your machine?

Say goodbye to your warranty and some possible pricey repairs.

#2 Borax

While this may not be a straight-up detergent, it is something people tend to add to their cloth diaper detergents.

This can cause premature wear on fabrics and is detrimental to PUL.

It doesn’t take long for Borax to do this either.

#3 Tide Simply Clean and Fresh

This is one place where Tide leaves me disappointed.

Don’t be swayed by the lower price point.

This detergent seems pretty watered down if you will and won’t cut it for your diaper laundry.

Maybe your regular laundry, but skip this for your cloth diapers.

A Few More Cloth Diaper Washing Points

Let's address the importance of water temperature when washing cloth diapers. Hot water is often recommended because it can effectively remove bacteria and stains. However, water that's too hot can damage the diaper's material over time. So, we recommend a warm wash cycle, which is efficient for cleaning yet gentle on the diapers. This should ideally be followed by a cold rinse to help prevent stains from setting.

One more thing to remember, the hard or soft nature of your water can also affect how your cloth diaper detergent performs. Hard water, for instance, can lead to mineral build-ups on your diapers, which can cause them to become less absorbent over time. A water softener can be a handy addition to your laundry routine if you have hard water. But remember, always opt for a cloth diaper-safe version!

Conclusion - The Best and Worst Detergents for Cloth Diapers

So what is the best detergent for cloth diapers?

The best detergent is what works for your family and your budget!

Steer-free and clear (bad pun. I know) of homemade and stick to a powered mainstream detergent that fits in your budget.

If you ever have a question about “is this safe” refer back to this blog or reach out to our knowledgeable customer service team!

Now that you know what the best detergent for cloth diapers are *cough cough* Tide *cough cough* it’s time to jump back into the wool dryer ball conversation.

Nicki’s Diapers Wool Dryer Balls are the ultimate sustainable solution to decrease drying times and keep your cloth diapers soft and static-free.

These reusable wool dryer balls reduce static cling, absorb moisture in all of your laundry (not just cloth diapers!) decreasing the time you need to run your dryer, and can be reused and reused- no need to repurchase!

This sustainable solution isn’t as noisy as plastic or rubber counterparts and is virtually indestructible-lasting up to 1,000 loads!

The best part - they come in amazing colors.

Click HERE to bring some wool dryer balls home today!