I have used a number of cloth-safe diaper powders. My favorite was Bio-Kleen. I wasn't able to get it easily anymore though, so I switched to a homemade powder using borax and fels naptha soap. My second child's skin had no problem with this detergent. My third child though, had very sensitive skin, and at around two months, he developed a stubborn rash. I researched online, got two doctors' opinions, stopped using the homemade detergent, stripped the diapers, tried fleece liners (to keep his skin dry), and tried all sorts of cremes, but nothing worked. I switched him to disposable diapers. This is the only thing that cleared up the rash. He stayed in disposable diapers for two months, during which I kept doing research about laundry detergent, cloth diapers, and rashes, because it pains me to throw those disposables diapers (and the $$) into the trash.
I found out that the Fels-Naptha soap in the homemade detergent could be harsh on the skin and that bar soap is not recommended for cloth diapers, because it leads to build-up, repelling instead of absobring moisture, leaving you with a leaky diaper. I also suspected that borax might be too harsh for the skin as well. So, what was I to do without the two main ingredients of my homemade laundry detergent?
After more research, I replaced the borax and the bar soap with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and an oxygen cleaner (sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate) such as Sun Oxygen cleaner. I kept the washing soda (sodium carbonate) because it is very mild and a great way to soften hard water (great for our Texas). So my current cloth diaper recipe is this:
Equal parts of the following 3 ingredients. I find all of them at my local grocery store.
**BIG DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a scientist. As a matter of fact, I strongly dislike chemistry and any other scientific subject and still will never uderstand atoms and things, even though I have taken three chemistry classes in my lifetime (and passed all of them, just for the record). I totally made this recipe up myself after doing online research on laundry and diaper detergents. I have no idea whether the experts would approve. All I know is, it works for my pocket book, and it works very well for my baby's bottom.**
Cloth Diaper Detergent Recipe
Equal parts of:
-baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
-oxygen cleaner* (sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate) *The ingredients of Sun Oxygen Cleaner are: Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Carbonate Peroxide. If you can't find Sun, check the other oxygen cleaners and make sure they have ONLY these two ingredients: Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate and/or Peroxide.
-washing soda (sodium carbonate)
I have a lidded jar that I put 1 cup of each into, shake it up, and then use 1 Tablespoons per cloth diaper (medium) size load. Even if the load is large, I would not use more than 2 TBS. If it's a very small load, use less than 1 TBS.
Updated: YES, you can use this powder on your regular wash.
MORE is less. Do not use more than 2 Tablespoons for an extra-large load of this powder; baking soda is very harsh when you use too much. The only reason it works here, and doesn't ruin your cloth diapers, is because you are using a very small amount.
I've been using this recipe for the past 5 months and it seems to work just fine. The diapers don't smell like some fancy scent, but that is fine with me. They do not smell unclean, and that is what is important. I do want to let you know that cloth diapers may have stains. Just because a cloth diaper has a stain does not mean it's not clean. You have to think of it as a dye. Sometimes certain things in baby's diet may leave a stain (dye) on the cloth diaper or insert. It does not mean they are dirty, but if the stains bother you, hang your diapers out in the sun and they will magically disappear.
I still use my regular powdered laundry detergent for the rest of the laundry in the house.
DO NOT use the BORAX/soap bar powder on your diapers.
Laundry Detergent Recipe (Powder)
DO NOT USE ON CLOTH DIAPERS. I save this one for very heavily soiled items, like kitchen/toilet cleaning rags.
The ingredients are:
-1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (found at your local grocery store)
-1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
-1/2 cup Borax
I cut up the bar into 8-10 pieces and then turn them into a fine powder with the help of one of my all-time favorite kitchen appliances, this food processor (which I paid $119 for, back in the day...no fair; what a sweet deal they have going on these days). I then add 1 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax and process it some more. I use an old ice-cream tub for storage. Not the prettiest container, but very practical, because I make about 5 or 6 batches at a time, which lasts me so long that I can't remember the last time I made laundry detergent.
For light loads, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy loads, use 2 Tablespoons. Gotta love that. The stuff lasts forever. So that's that! Another easy way for us to save money and rid our house of toxins.
If you'd like to join our Cloth Diaper Questions facebook group and discuss cloth diapering with like-minded moms, you can find it here.