10 Best Detergents for Cloth Diapers

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best detergents for cloth diapersIf you’re trying to do what’s best for the environment and use cloth diapers, you may find that you face a few challenges. One of these challenges is getting your baby’s diapers as clean as you want them to be. To do that, you’ll need to know about the best laundry detergents for cloth diapers.

While some detergents are marketed especially for baby’s laundry, it isn’t necessary to buy a special detergent. Many moms find that it’s easier to wash all their laundry with a single detergent. Others want the added security of a detergent engineered just for baby. No matter which path you choose, you’ll want to avoid detergents that have ingredients that could irritate baby’s skin.

Baby diapers can be a tough job. They can develop stains or a stinky smell that’s hard to get out. The right detergent can prevent these issues most of the time, although occasionally you’ll need to take extra measures.

No one detergent will be right for every family. In order to choose the best detergent for laundering cloth diapers, you’ll need to consider the type of washing machine you have, whether you are going to line dry or machine dry your diapers, whether you have hard water and whether your baby has sensitive skin. Some mothers will want an environmentally friendly detergent as well. After reading these reviews, you should be able to settle upon a detergent that has the qualities that you require.

Our Top Detergents For Cloth Diapers

*All product links in this article will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com, scroll down for our in-depth reviews below

Laundering the Different Types of Diapers

Your diaper laundering protocol will depend in part upon the type of diaper you choose. Each major style of the diaper has some advantages and some disadvantages.

Exactly what term is applied to the different types of diapers can differ from region to region, and different manufacturers may use different labels for their diapers. But basically, diapers fall into the following large categories.

Flat Diapers. This is the type of diaper that your grandmother used. Flat diapers are the easiest to launder. They don’t have hard-to-clean seams or crevices, and they dry super fast. Also, one size fits all, as you adjust the size of the diaper through the fold. There are multiple ways to fold a flat diaper to fit your baby’s size, gender and needs. Flat diapers are not leakproof, although you can add a waterproof cover.

Prefolds. These are diapers created by stitching several layers of cloth together, with a greater number of layers down the middle of the diaper. Depending on how you are going to use prefolds, they may need to be folded in spite of their name. Prefolds are easiest to launder after flat diapers. They require a leakproof cover.

Fitted Diapers or Contours. These are diapers that require no folding because they are shaped to fit baby’s bottom. Contour diapers may or may not have elastic around the legs. Fitted diapers do. Contour diapers generally don’t have snaps or other closures, while fitted diapers usually do. Laundering is relatively easy, although stains may accumulate around puckers and closures. Again, they require a waterproof cover for leak protection.

Two-Piece Diapers. These diapers consist of two pieces, one an absorbent piece and one an outer waterproof shell. These diapers may be called pocket diapers, sleeve diapers or all-in-twos, depending upon how the two pieces fit together. These are probably the most popular type of diaper today. Some two-piece diapers may require that you wash the shells separately from the absorbent lining. Others can be laundered together. Shells sometimes hold stains around the elastic.

All-in-Ones. These are diapers in which the absorbent component and the waterproof shell are sewn together, for the ultimate in convenience. The first all-in-ones gained the reputation of being hard to launder, as the closed-in layers could hold odor and stains and the thickness of the diapers made them hard to dry. Manufacturers have improved on early designs, however, with better fabrics and innovative designs that allow the diapers to open up in the wash for better cleaning.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

The basic steps for laundering cloth diapers are relatively simple. You will need to consult the laundry directions for your particular diapers.

As soon as you take off a poopy diaper, you’ll need to remove as much solid waste as possible. Both wet and dirty diapers will need to be stored in a diaper pail or wet bag until laundry time.

Traditionally diapers were kept soaking in a pail before laundering, but that practice has been largely discarded. If there are other children in the home, a diaper pail containing liquid is a drowning hazard. Also, some brands of diapers do not recommend lengthy soaking.

You can begin your diaper wash with a soak in the machine, or with a pre-wash. This step should be done with cold water in order to avoid setting stains.

The next wash should be a long wash, usually with hot water. You may need to use the heavy duty setting on your machine. You shouldn’t overfill your washer or the diapers won’t be able to agitate freely. On the other hand, the action of the diapers rubbing against each other provides part of the cleaning, so don’t wash so few diapers that there’s no contact between them.

Extra rinsing will ensure that no detergent is left behind to irritate baby’s tender skin. One extra rinse should do the trick.

Some moms use bleach regularly or occasionally to get out diaper stains and odors, but most laundry experts suggest that you skip the bleach if possible. Again, check the laundry instructions on your particular brand of diaper, and also consider the sensitivity of your baby’s skin, You may want to use bleach if your baby has a yeast infection or other infection.

Some moms have to contend with very hard water when doing laundry. This means that their water contains a high degree of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. If you have hard water, you may want to add a water conditioner.

If your water is moderately hard, you can get comparable results just by adding extra detergent. If, however, your water is very hard, adding extra detergent may not be enough. See more about washing cloth diapers from Baby Center.

How to Dry Cloth Diapers

Line drying diapers is eco-friendly, and the sun will take out any stains that the wash didn’t remove. It does not, however, result in soft diapers unless you have a very windy day. Some moms dry diapers outside and then give them a quick tumble to soften them.

Most modern moms machine dry their diapers. If you use two-piece diapers, the shells and absorbent liners may require different settings. Some moms air dry the waterproof shells, as the dryer can be hard on them.

Fabric softeners are a no-no for cloth diapers, as they reduce absorbency. Some people swear by dryer balls that are supposed to soften the wash, but experts are divided about whether they really work. They can reduce drying time if clothes tend to clump up in your dryer. The rubber balls can be quite noisy in the dryer. The woolen ones are less so.

Also read: 12 Best Diaper Pails.

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

In order to work, laundry detergents need two basic components: surfactants and builders. Surfactants are the workhorses of laundry detergents. They reduce the surface tension of water so that it cleans more efficiently. They also bind with grease and oil so that it is not re-deposited on clothing.  Builders are usually alkaline agents that bind with calcium and magnesium, freeing up the surfactants to work more efficiently.

Some laundry detergents contain enzymes that break down protein, fat and starches, much as enzymes help us digest our food. Experts are divided over whether a laundry detergent for cloth diapers should contain enzymes. Enzymes do help to break down urine and fecal matter. One particular enzyme, cellulase, could conceivably harm certain fibers.

There is no scientific evidence that enzyme residue will attack baby’s skin, but some moms prefer not to take any chances. Learn more about enzymes from Eco Baby Steps.

Other additives that detergent manufacturers brag about are likely to be drawbacks rather than advantages when laundering cloth diapers. You don’t want a fabric softener in your laundry detergent, because of absorbency issues. Laundry detergents that contain brighteners or whiteners, bleach, dye or fragrance may irritate baby’s skin.

Learn more about laundry detergents from How Stuff Works.

Understanding Laundry Product Labels

Some moms look for products that are environmentally conscious or eco-friendly. These terms don’t mean the same thing to everyone. When shopping for laundry detergents, some people look for biodegradable formulas and recyclable containers. Some look at the energy consumed in making the product. Some want plant-based or bio-based products.

Laundry detergents are one of the few products where eco-friendly versions often cost less. That’s because they often rely on simple formulas. They may have from three to six ingredients instead of 20 to 30, and they often skip some of the more high-powered, expensive ingredients.

Plant-based detergents are a relatively new category of detergents. These rely on renewable resources – plants – rather than non-renewable resources, such as petroleum. Many of these have been certified bio-based by the USDA, which means that they contain at least 34% plants or other bio-based ingredients. They may or may not meet other criteria that people consider eco-friendly.

Free and clear is another label that you will find on many detergents. Most often, that means that the product is free from dyes and synthetic fragrances.

If you do not want products with added scents, look for a fragrance-free label. Products that are said to be unscented may actually contain products to mask the smell. Also, some products make a distinction between synthetic scents and those derived from natural products, such as essential oils. Learn more about fragrance in products from the EPA.

More About Cloth Diapers

You’ll need to wash cloth diapers before using, just as you would wash any of baby’s clothes. The absorbent part of the diaper will soak up liquids better if washed three times and won’t reach full absorbency until they are washed a couple more times. Some call this process prepping diapers, and it can be done using the same laundry detergent that you will use on soiled diapers.

You also hear of people stripping diapers after they have been used for a while. This means treating diapers to remove detergent residue and hard water deposits. You’ll know if your diapers need to be stripped if they develop a persistent odor or if they become less absorbent.

Now let’s take a look at the best detergents for cloth diapers. Because of the dangers of detergent pods or packs, we have given preference to detergents in liquid or powder form.

Also read: 15 Best Diaper Caddies here.

10 Best Detergents For Cloth Diapers Reviewed

1. Dreft Pur-Touch Liquid


Dreft Purtouch Baby Liquid Laundry Detergent, Hypoallergenic for Baby, Infant or Newborn, 80 oz (2 Pack, 40 oz Each) (Packaging May Vary)


Dreft is the name most likely to come to mind as a laundry detergent for baby clothes. That’s because they have been making baby-friendly detergent for 75 years. The Dreft label also tells us that it’s the brand most often recommended by pediatricians.

Dreft detergent comes in four formats: Stage 1 Newborn, Stage 2 Active Baby, Powder and Pur-Touch Plant-Based. The link is to the Pur-Touch formula. All formulas have some enzymes, although the exact ones vary. Also, all but the Pur-Touch have brighteners. All formulas have fragrance.

The Pur-Touch formula is said to be 65% plant-based. According to the back label, the surfactants, solvents, cleaning agent and pH adjuster are plant-based. The product also includes three petroleum-based products and four mineral-based products, as well as three bio-based enzymes.

This product is made using renewable wind power at a plant that features zero manufacturing waste to landfill, according to a 2017 press release from the company.

Dreft is a product of Proctor and Gamble. You can find detailed information about ingredients on the Dreft website by clicking the Smart Label link.


  • Choice of Formulas. Dreft is available in three liquid formulas and a powder.
  • Cleans Well. Most users were satisfied with the cleaning provided by this product.
  • Certified Bio-Based. This product is certified bio-based by the USDA.
  • Eco-Friendly Manufacture. This product is manufactured using wind power in an eco-friendly facility.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product is free of optical brighteners, phosphates, dye and chlorine.
  • Hypoallergenic. Proctor and Gamble states that this product is hypoallergenic.
  • For All Machines. Dreft works in HE or regular washing machines.


  • Strong Fragrance.  Some users found the smell overpowering.
  • Some Iffy Ingredients. Dreft Pur-Touch contains fragrance and enzymes, and the other formulas also contain a brightener.
  • Not Great on Stains. Some users said that the detergent did not do a good job on poop stains.
  • Multiple Ingredients. Moms who like to keep things simple may not like that this detergent contains 20+ ingredients.
  • Not Budget Friendly. The price of Dreft falls into the moderate to high category.

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2. Tide Purclean Liquid

Tide Purclean Liquid Laundry Detergent for Regular and HE Washers, Unscented, 75 Ounce (Packaging May Vary)

Tide Purclean has many things in common with Dreft Pur-Touch, which isn’t too surprising since both belong to the Proctor and Gamble family of products. For many consumers, however, the Tide name means superior performance in the laundry room.

Like Dreft Pur-Touch, Tide Purclean is 65% plant-based and is made using electricity generated from renewable wind power. The plant where it is made uses 50% electricity and 50% steam power. The facility also features zero manufacturing waste to landfill.

According to the website, this product uses seven plant-based ingredients, three that are mineral-based, three that are petroleum-based and two bio-based enzymes. You can find out more by using the Smart Label link.

This version is unscented, although the company also makes a Purclean version with a honey and lavender scent. Tide also makes a dye- and perfume-free version of its regular detergent, called Free and Gentle.


  • Choice of Formulas. Tide makes detergents in powder, pod and liquid form, but Purclean is only available as a liquid.
  • Certified Bio-Based. This product is certified bio-based by the USDA.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well and is comparable to regular Tide.
  • Eco-Friendly Manufacture. This product is manufactured using wind power in an eco-friendly facility.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product is free of ethanolamine, optical brighteners, phosphates, dye and chlorine.
  • For All Machines. Tide Purclean works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Recyclable. The product container is 100% recyclable.


  • Some Iffy Ingredients. Tide Purclean contains enzymes, which some moms do not want.
  • Multiple Ingredients. Moms who like to keep things simple may not like that this detergent contains 20+ ingredients.
  • Not Budget Friendly. Tide tends to be more more expensive than other mainstream detergents, and the Purclean version is usually a little higher than standard Tide.

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3. All Free Clear Oxi Liquid

all Liquid Laundry Detergent with OXI Stain Removers and Whiteners, Free Clear, 46.5 Fluid Ounces, 26 Loads

All is another mainstream laundry detergent that has a baby-friendly version. This version contains Oxi, which means oxygen bleach. That’s a whitener that is gentler than chlorine bleach and generally considered to be safe for baby’s clothes. Oxygen bleaches have considerable stain-removing powers, so you may find that you have fewer poop stains with this detergent.

All doesn’t have product ingredients listed right on the website as Proctor and Gamble does. Instead, you have to click on a link and type in the name of the product, and sometimes the product you put in doesn’t come up. As a result, it’s hard to know exactly what is in your product.

If you like everything else about All but don’t want the oxygen bleach, there is also a Free Clear version without Oxi. The All Free Clear without Oxi claims to be the brand most recommended for sensitive skin by dermatologists, pediatricians and allergists.


  • Choice of Formulas. All Free Clear is available with or without oxygen bleach.
  • Choice of Forms. It’s also available as a liquid or in single-use pods, which All calls Mighty Pacs.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product removes stains and cleans well overall.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. All Free products are free of dyes and fragrances.
  • Fewer Ingredients. All Free Clear contains fewer than ten ingredients.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.


  • Some Iffy Ingredients. All Free Clear contains a brightener, but contains no enzymes.
  • Contains Oxygen Bleach. Some moms may want to avoid oxygen bleaches in their baby’s wash.
  • Not Budget Friendly. The price of this formula of All is in the moderate to high range, but other All formulas are more affordable.

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4. Baby Ecos Free and Clear Disney Liquid

Earth Friendly Products Baby Ecos Disney Laundry Detergent, Lavender and Chamomile, 100 Fl Oz, (Pack of 2)

Ecos takes the environment seriously. For over 50 years this family-owned company has been making eco-friendly cleaners. Today its products are made in plants that are carbon-neutral, that follow zero-waste guidelines and that are powered by renewable energy.

Baby Ecos Free and Clear has a simple formula that consists of three plant-based surfactants plus two preservatives. The product description states that it has a built-in fabric softener, referring to the natural qualities of the coconut oil that the surfactants are derived from. Most experts said that this natural fabric softener should not negatively affect cloth diapers.

Ecos makes a full range of cleaning products, including a free and clear laundry product not especially labeled for babies.


  • Fewer Ingredients. Baby Ecos Free and Clear Disney contains only five ingredients.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well overall.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product contains no dyes, fragrance, brighteners or enzymes.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Softens Naturally. Most users said that this product makes their clothing softer with no loss of absorbency.
  • Animal Friendly. Baby Ecos Free is vegan and not tested on animals.


  • No Choice of Formulas. Ecos Baby comes in only one formula and only as a liquid.
  • Not Great on Stains. Some users said that the detergent did not do a good job on tough stains.
  • Not Budget Friendly. This detergent is in the moderate range pricewise.

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5. Molly’s Suds Unscented Laundry Powder

Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent Powder, Bundle of 2, 240 Loads Total, Natural Laundry Soap for Sensitive Skin

Made with only four “earth-derived” ingredients, Molly’s Suds Unscented Laundry Powder is a favorite of natural mothers. With a little sleuthing on Molly’s website, you can learn that these four ingredients are magnesium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate and sea salt.

Molly’s used to make a special laundry detergent for cloth diapers, but that has been discontinued, and the company now recommends their regular laundry products. This unscented version is probably best for most babies. Most users said that the unscented formula cleaned their diapers well, but a few users said that their cloth diapers retained a slight urine odor.

Molly’s Suds had its genesis in tragedy. The founder became interested in chemical toxins after her daughter Molly was stillborn. After learning about the lack of research on many chemicals that we are exposed to every day, she decided to create products that are truly safe for families.


  • Fewer Ingredients. Molly’s Suds Unscented contains only four ingredients.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well overall.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product contains no carcinogens, preservatives, GMO ingredients, fillers, harsh chemicals or toxins.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Animal-Friendly. Leaping Bunny certifies this product to be cruelty-free, and it is also gluten-free and vegan.
  • Budget Friendly. This detergent is quite economical and is cheaper than many mainstream brands.


  • No Choice of Formulas. Molly’s Suds Unscented comes in only one formula and only as a powder, although the company also makes a liquid detergent.
  • Not Great on Stains. Some users said that stains require pre-treatment or they won’t come out.

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6. Seventh Generation 4X for Baby

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear Unscented, 40 oz, 2 Pack (106 Loads)

Lots of natural moms are fans of Seventh Generation, the company founded 39 years ago by a group of Vermont activists-turned-entrepreneurs. The company made a commitment to make environmentally friendly products and market them with transparency.

Today the company aims for a higher goal, to not only cause no harm but to actually improve the world. In 2017 the company was sold to Unilever, but the company remains committed to its goals.

Seventh Generation lives up to its pledge of transparency by posting ingredients right on its product pages, along with information about where the products are manufactured and links to safety information. Most Seventh Generation products are manufactured in the United States from ingredients that are locally and globally sourced.

This particular product is USDA-certified to be bio-based, a certification which requires 34% plant-based and other renewable materials. According to the Seventh Generation website, this product is 95% bio-based.

This product contains almost 30 ingredients, but there is a Free and Clear version for baby that contains many fewer ingredients. Some natural moms may prefer that version.


  • Choice of Formulas. Seventh Generation makes detergents in powder, pack and liquid form, as well as in multiple scents and concentrations.  
  • Certified Bio-Based. This product is certified bio-based by the USDA.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well and gets out most stains.
  • Concentrated. This product is 4X concentrated so you can use less.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product is free of synthetic fragrances, dyes and brighteners.
  • Naturally Fragranced. Scent is derived from essential oils and botanicals.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Recyclable. The product container is 100% recyclable.


  • Some Iffy Ingredients. This product contains four enzymes, which some moms do not want.
  • Multiple Ingredients. Moms who like to keep things simple may not like that this detergent contains almost 30 ingredients.
  • Not Budget Friendly. This detergent is in the moderate range pricewise.

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7. Rockin’ Green Dirty Diaper Platinum Series

Rockin' Green Platinum Series Dirty Diaper Powdered Laundry Detergent, 45 oz. - All Natural, Biodegradable, and Eco-Friendly

This product name doesn’t mince words. It’s intended for use on those dirty, stinky diapers that our little ones produce. The formula includes a broad-spectrum enzyme blend for stain removal, but it does not contain any cellulase, the enzyme that can be hard on cloth.

Rockin’ Green was founded by a mom who was upset by misleading “green” claims made by other products. She founded a company dedicated to bringing you cleaning products that are affordable, environmentally conscious and safe. The company has a rocking website, too, with tons of good info.

The Dirty Diaper formula is naturally scented with tea tree oil and is all-natural and plant-based. Ingredients include sodium sulfate, sodium carbonate, sodium percarbonate, natural chelating agents, biodegradable surfactants and enzymes derived from plants.

Those who don’t want enzymes in their detergents can check out the Classic Rock line and the Hard Rock line, made for those with hard water. Both are also recommended for cloth diapers. There’s also a Funk Rock soak to get out nasty smells. This company not only makes good products but also has a sense of humor!


  • Choice of Scents. Rockin’ Green detergents are in powder form, but they are available in your choice of scents or unscented.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well and gets out most stains.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. Rockin’ Green provides a long list of ingredients it will not use, including dyes, parabens, phosphates and artificial fragrances.
  • Naturally Fragranced. Scents are derived from natural ingredients.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.


  • Some Iffy Ingredients. This product contains three enzymes, which some moms do not want, and tea tree oil, which some users may be sensitive to.
  • Odor Problem. Some users said that this detergent did not remove the ammonia smell from their child’s diapers.
  • Not Budget Friendly. The price of this detergent is in the moderate range.

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8. Gain Liquid Detergent With Original Scent

Gain Liquid Detergent with Original Scent, 32 Loads, 50-Ounce (Packaging May Vary)

If you’re lucky enough to have a baby without sensitive skin, you may be able to use the same detergent for diapers that you do for the rest of your wash. And if you’re a Gainiac, that means you’ll be washing diapers with Gain.

It’s the smell of Gain that makes many users so dedicated to this particular detergent. If you’re handling a lot of stinky diapers, a great-smelling laundry detergent can make wash day more pleasant.

Gain describes the original scent as a combination of green, citrus and amber. Its fans simply say that it smells wonderful. But in case you want to branch out, Gain is available in other scents, such as Thai Dragon Fruit and Apple Mango Tango. The scent really is their thing! In fact, you won’t find unscented laundry detergents with the Gain name.

Gain fans like the economical price of this detergent and its stain-removing chops. If you’re a minimalist mom, you may not like that this detergent contains dozens of ingredients including borax, fragrance, dye and brightener. You might opt for the Botanicals line from Gain, which is USDA certified bio-based and which contains significantly fewer ingredients. Whichever version you choose, be sure to put an extra rinse on your diapers and watch for any reactions on baby’s bottom.

Gain is another Proctor and Gamble product, which means that you can go to the website and use the Smart Label to learn more about ingredients. Hooray for that!


  • Choice of Formulas. Gain makes detergents in powder, pack and liquid forms and has bio-based products, too.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well.
  • Lasting Scent. The gain scent is said to last for up to six weeks.
  • For All Machines. Gain works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Budget Friendly. This detergent is quite economical.


  • Some Iffy Ingredients. This product contains an enzyme, which some moms avoid.
  • Multiple Ingredients. Moms who like to keep things simple may not like that this detergent contains 20+ ingredients.
  • No Unscented Version. If you need an unscented detergent, you are out of luck with Gain.

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9. Nellie’s All-Natural Baby Laundry

Nellie's All Natural Baby Powder Laundry Detergent Tin (80 Loads) Safe For Infants Sensitive Skin, Non-Toxic - 2.2 Pounds

Nellie’s is a company created by a Canadian man and named to honor his mom. According to the company website, the real-life Nellie believed in going green long before it was a thing. Nellie’s products are biodegradable and hypoallergenic.

All of Nellie’s products come in powder form, because the company does not support spending money to ship water. In similar fashion, Nellie’s does not use fillers in its products. As a result, a single tablespoon is enough for a load of laundry.

According to the Nellie’s website, Baby Laundry has only five ingredients, all starting with sodium: sodium carbonate, sodium sulfate, sodium chloride, sodium carbonate peroxide and sodium oleate.  Nellie’s comes in a cute retro tin that you can refill and reuse.


  • Fewer Ingredients. Nellie’s All-Natural Baby Laundry contains only five ingredients.
  • Choice of Formulas. Nellie’s makes a laundry soda that comes in powder or in nugget form.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well overall.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product contains no gluten, phosphates or chlorine.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Animal-Friendly. Leaping Bunny certifies this product to be cruelty-free.


  • Not Great on Odors. Some users said that this product doesn’t work well on odors.
  • Not Budget Friendly. This product is moderately priced, and some users said they needed to use more, which raises the cost of using this detergent.

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10. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder

Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance Free Powdered Laundry Detergent – 100 Loads (2.64 lbs, 1 Pack)

Moms who use cloth diapers are often fans of Charlie’s Soap, too. Since being founded in 1971, the company has developed a loyal following of “green” consumers.

The company’s founder, Charlie Sutherland, Jr., developed a formula to clean the machines in his father’s textile factory. The cleaner had to be acceptable to the local wastewater facility, it had to be safe for workers to use and it had to clean oil from the machinery. The formula he came up with was so popular that the employees were constantly taking it home with them.

Those enamored employees called Sutherland’s formula Charlie’s Soap, and the name stuck. (Technically the product is a detergent rather than a soap.) Eventually, Sutherland and his family created a whole line of cleaners.

To live up to its motto, “Live Green. Deep Clean,” Charlie’s Soap relies on “real science,” according to the company website. Charlie’s products undergo third-party testing for effectiveness and minimal environmental impact.

With its laundry powder, Charlie’s takes minimalism to a new level, with only three ingredients: sodium carbonate, a detergent (C12-15 Pareth-2, from vegetable and mineral sources) and sodium metasilicate, a drying agent. Only one tablespoon per load is required. Charlie’s claims to leave no residue behind and to be capable of removing the residue from your previous detergent.


  • Fewer Ingredients. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder contains only three ingredients.
  • Choice of Forms. Charlie’s makes laundry soap in liquid, powder and packet form.
  • Cleans Well. Most users said that this product cleans well and leaves no residue.
  • Free of Problem Ingredients. This product has no brighteners, perfumes or dyes.
  • For All Machines. This product works in HE or regular washing machines.
  • Environmentally Friendly. Charlie’s Soap products are biodegradable.
  • Animal-Friendly. Charlie’s products are never tested on animals.
  • Great on Odors. Users said that this product removes odors without leaving an artificial scent behind.
  • Budget Friendly. This product is reasonably priced, and most users said they got good results using the recommended one tablespoon per load.


  • Not Especially for Babies. Charlie’s does not make a product especially for cloth diapers or especially for babies.
  • Not for Hard Water. Some users said that this product does not work well in hard water.

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And the Winner Is!

The best laundry detergent for cloth diapers is Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder. Users are effusive about how well it cleans. Moms can get good performance at a low price while doing something good for the environment. Those who are sensitive to smells will love that Charlie’s doesn’t cover up smells with fragrance but removes odors altogether.

Moms will also like that they only need to use one tablespoon of Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder. No more lugging home huge containers of detergent! If you prefer using packets or liquid, you’ll still get great performance with a small amount.

Charlie’s is committed to the science of cleaning and to reducing its environmental impact. Its products are biodegradable, hypoallergenic and never tested on animals. Its products are especially noted for rinsing clean so that diapers don’t accumulate a detergent residue that could affect their absorbency.

Washing diapers can be a dirty job. Charlie’s Soap can make it a little easier and more pleasant.


1 thought on “10 Best Detergents for Cloth Diapers”

  1. What about using ammonia in place of detergent. I have been for two years lemon scented ammonia leaves no scent to my laundry and removed the old soap buildup from my towels. My darks whites and colours all come out clean and fresh.


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