The best detergent for cloth diapers

Choosing the right and best detergent for cloth diapers is actually more important than you think it is. One of the most common mistakes new parents do is using the wrong detergent for their baby’s cloth diapers. Using the wrong detergent will stop you from effective and thorough cleaning, which can result in a disaster. 

There are many different types of detergents available in the market. You might also wonder, what is the difference between regular detergent and cloth diaper detergent. What should you even look for in a good cloth diaper detergent? To make things easier for all the new and confused parents out there, today we will be talking about the top 5 best detergents for cloth diapers. We will also talk about what you should look for in your ideal cloth diaper detergent, and a few tips and tricks too.

Table of Contents

Buying guide

Before you jump off to buy the first detergent you see, you should know what you are getting into. You surely don’t want to hurt your little one by making a mistake here.  Here are some of the key tips that will help you to choose the best cloth diaper detergent for your baby:

Surfactant concentration: 

This is more important than you think it is. There are detergents that will not clean the diaper as well as you may want it to. To solve this problem, always check whether the detergent you are about to buy has a high concentration or not. The greater level of a surfactant allows the diapers to be cleaned thoroughly.


Enzymes are a key ingredient that helps to get rid of poop stains from cloth diapers easily. It works as a cleansing enhancer for your diapers. But be sure to check that what you are getting doesn’t have synthetic enzymes. Babies have very sensitive skin, so the synthetic enzyme can act as an irritant. 


Always avoid detergents that are loaded with fragrance. A lot of moms prefer to have fragrances in their detergents, but babies have very sensitive skin. fragrances can be quite irritant on their skin. It can induce rashes and various other skin problems as well.

Harsh chemical ingredients: 

Detergents filled with synthetic dye can be very harsh for your baby’s skin. It is important that you avoid detergents that are filled with dyes and bleach.

Fabric softening agents: 

Fabric conditioners or softeners are often added in detergents. While this can be good for regular clothes, it is absolutely terrible for cloth diapers. These added fabric softening agents can cause build-up on cloth diapers if used for a long time. This will also degenerate the performance and longevity of cloth diapers over time. 

Water Conditions:

This is something a lot of parents forget about while picking up a cloth diaper detergent. There are a lot of detergents that don’t mix well in hard water, and only works in soft water. Now if you live in the US, chances are your house has hard water. But most people use water softening agents so the detergent can do the cleaning instead of reacting with the minerals in the hard water. Before you buy a detergent, make sure it is compatible with your home’s water conditions.

Top 5 best detergent for cloth diapers: 

These detergents mentioned below have been handpicked for their performance and stain removal powers. We have included both powder detergents and liquid detergents. 

Here are the top 5 best detergents for cloth diapers:

1. Tide Original HE Turbo Powder Laundry Detergent:

Topping our list is a classic, the tide original HE turbo powder laundry detergent. Upon my research, I found out this was the most used detergent for cloth diapers by parents. This shocked me quite a bit. But once you get to know about all this can offer, you will understand why parents like this so much.

This detergent works both in hard water and soft water. It provides 6x cleaning than a regular detergent. This detergent claim to get rid of 7-day old stains, and according to many, it does. Paired with the refreshing smell this gives to your cloth diapers upon cleaning, this is a winner. The best part about this according to many parents, this does not give any sort of build-up in the diapers either.

Compared to one scoop of other brands, one scoop of the tide original turbo powder costs less. Not only is it an amazing cleaner, but this will also help you to save quite a lot of money. 


  • Since it is a laundry detergent, you can use it to clean cloth diapers and regular clothes. 
  • Comparatively cheaper per scoop with effective cleaning 
  • No, build-up issues whatsoever. 
  • Works amazing in both hard water and soft water.


  • It might not dissolve properly in some washers. 

2. Rockin’ Green Platinum Series Dirty Diaper Powdered Laundry Detergent:

One of the many reasons why I like the Rockin’ green platinum series dirty diaper powdered laundry detergent is because it is created by moms. As parents, there are a lot of things you might look for in your perfect detergent, but brands do not cater to those needs always. This is why Rockin’ green is a favorite of mine. 

This detergent is enriched with enzymes which is a key ingredient for cloth diaper detergent. It is vegan, cruelty-free, and does not contain harmful chemicals like parabens, phosphates, and sulfates. The most amazing part about this detergent is that it is a natural detergent that is also good for our climate. 

Since this is made for cloth diapers, it does not have a build-up issue either. It is also infused with tea tree oil which is an antibacterial essential oil. Once washed, the diapers will smell a lot like tea tree oil.


  • Vegan, cruelty-free, natural detergent.
  • Infused with different types of enzymes and proteins to clean up stains faster.
  • Free of chemical ingredients. 
  • No build-up on the diaper at all.
  • Compatible in all sorts of washing machines. 
  • Easy on the climate.


  • The fragrance of tea tree oil is quite strong.

3. Gain Ultra Powder Original Detergent:

If you are aware that the water in your house is soft, then
the Gain Ultra powder original detergent might be a great option for you. The reason I say this is
because, soft water can often cause more lather than usual, which can cause build-up issues in your
baby’s cloth diapers. In order to avoid this, you need to use the right detergent. This is why I will
recommend the Gain Ultra powder original detergent. It produces a very low amount of lather which
prevents build-up while providing great cleaning. 
This detergent is free of sulfates and chemical irritants that might harm your baby’s skin.


 Great for soft water.
 Low lathering formula 
 No build-up issues at all
 Effective cleaning 


 It might be a little harder to use if your washer doesn’t have HE formulation.

4. Allens Naturally Liquid Soap Laundry Detergent:

Powder detergents are great, but if you are not
a fan of them, you can always use liquid laundry detergents. Speaking of liquid laundry detergents,
my first choice is Allens’ Naturally liquid soap laundry detergent. 
If you are not a fan of fragrance in your baby’s cloth diaper detergent, you will love this detergent.
This detergent has no odor or scent at all. This detergent is free of harsh chemical ingredients,
toxins, and irritants that might harm your baby’s skin. It is a natural liquid soap laundry detergent
free of dye, fragrance, bleach, SLS, etc. 

A lot of parents said that without added fragrance, the diapers after washing don’t smell too great. However, since it is a natural detergent, we don’t think of this as a bad side. Added perfumes can
also, be quite irritant on your baby’s skin.
It usually comes in a plastic gallon. Each load of wash costs way less than other brands. The company
also offers a pump along with the bottle. I love the pump because one pump is all it takes for me.
This detergent works great in all types of washers.


 Natural liquid soap detergent
 Free of all sorts of chemicals
 No, build up issue with the diapers
 Doesn’t contain bleach, fragrance, or dye. 
 Each load costs less than 10 cents.
 Works great in all types of washers


 Without the pump, dispensing the product can be quite a hassle.

5. Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent:

If you are looking for a budget-friendly liquid laundry detergent
that is gentle and easy on your baby’s skin while tough on stains and bacteria, then the Purex liquid
laundry detergent is the perfect choice for you. 
This liquid laundry detergent is free of dye, fragrance, bleach, and any sort of harmful chemicals that
might harm your little angel’s skin. It is a dermatologically tested product. It is also hypoallergenic
which means, there is no chance this product will irritate your baby’s skin.


 Dermatologically tested laundry detergent
 Free of dyes, perfumes, and bleach.
 Hypoallergenic Product 
 Amazing cleaning power 
 Budget-friendly


 With hard water, you may need a softening agent whilst using this detergent.

There you have it, our top 5 best detergents for cloth diapers. Choosing the perfect cloth diaper for
your baby is not hard, but it can be a little confusing. By following the buying guide we have
provided you with, and the products mentioned above, hopefully, you will not be confused
Before you commit to one detergent, it is better if you try out different detergents to see the level of
cleaning it can provide you with. Always make sure to read the ingredients list of the detergent to
ensure you are avoiding irritants. After all, we are talking about the health of your little angel here!


Do you need special detergent for cloth diapers?

Ans: No. you do not exactly need special detergent
for cloth diapers. However, regular detergents are always not the best option for cloth diapers. Cloth
diapers need more cleansing than a regular piece of clothing. Some regular detergents also come
with fabric softeners and conditioners, which can cause repelling of the diaper and end up ruining it.
Even if you are buying regular detergent for cloth diaper cleaning, it is recommended you buy one
that’s beneficial for cloth diapers.

Is powder or liquid detergent better for cloth diapers?

Ans: Both powder and liquid detergents are equally suitable for cloth diapers. A lot of parents prefer
powder detergents because these provide better cleaning and are better at stain removal, while
some avoid powder detergents because they have a hard time mixing them in their washer. One of
the reasons parents like to use liquid laundry detergent soap is because of the formulation, the
concentration stays together. This allows the detergent to mix in the washer easily. However, a lot of
liquid detergents have additives that can cause more lathering which results in build-up in cloth
diapers. On the other hand, some powder detergents can be quite irritant for your baby. This is why
the formula doesn’t matter, the ingredients matter. 

 Can you wash cloth diapers with regular detergent?

Ans: Yes, you can wash cloth diapers with regular detergents. But not all of them. There are some
ingredients you must avoid when you are buying detergent for cloth diapers. Any sort of whitening
or brightening agent, bleach, fragrance, dye, synthetic enzyme can be quite irritating on your baby’s
skin. not only that, these can contribute to the build-up of your baby’s diapers. Another issue is,
most regular laundry detergents come infused with fabric conditioners or fabric softeners. These can
cause the diapers to repel over time, which will ruin the absorbency of your cloth diaper. This is why
it is better to know what to avoid before buying a regular detergent for cloth diapers.

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