6.13.2014

Tide is not {always} the answer!

Tide and cloth diapers
When I first started cloth diapering I wanted a detergent that I could buy locally and didn't need to order online. I did a lot of research and was concerned about protecting my warranty and taking care of my investment. We were using store brand liquid detergent on our clothing and I was concerned about using that on our baby's clothes too. I didn't jump on the Dreft band wagon, but I did want something "free and clear." After reading a lot of information and checking out recommended detergents for cloth diapers, I decided on Planet. Our local grocery store stocked it and I had heard good things.

When my son was born, I separated his laundry from ours. I washed his clothes and his diapers in Planet and continued to wash our clothes in the store brand detergent. Then one day, a few months later I was out shopping for Planet only to find that it had been clearanced for "close-out". My local store stopped stocking Planet. I was so sad and it was back to the drawing board. We were having such success with it. And if you've ever asked for advice about switching detergents in the cloth diaper world, you've heard the saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it!" Unfortunately, I had no choice (except to order online which I didn't want to do).

Around this time, Tide got very popular in the cloth diapering community. I thought, what the heck? Why not? So I took the plunge and switched to Tide for all of our laundry. It worked. No issues. Very little stink. No rashes. I used Tide Original in liquid form. My only complaint was that occasionally our laundry could end up with blue spots from the detergent not rinsing out. That was solved by a second rinse. I stopped worrying about warranties, we were coming up on one year of cloth diapering anyway.

Tide and cloth diapers

I used it right up until the time that we potty trained our son. Then I started hearing about the chemicals. The carcinogens. I didn't use to get caught up in that stuff. Shoot, until I got married I didn't even recycle. I just didn't worry about those things. But a funny thing happens when you start to use cloth diapers. You become more conscious of the things you expose your family and the environment too. At first I brushed it off, but every time the subject came up it began to eat away at me. My son already had eczema. Perhaps I should ditch the Tide. I started reading more and looking at recommendations from the EWG. And just like that I quit buying my beloved Tide.

Did it work? Yes. Were my diapers clean? Yes. Did I ever have issues with barnyard? No. Did I ever have issues with ammonia? YES! But that wasn't related to my detergent use. Read about that here.

The point of my post is not to lecture you about the environmental and health risks in using Tide. Make your own conclusions about that one. My post spurred from the idea that Tide is always the answer. A few months ago Tide and bleach were the answer. This duo was the gospel being spread throughout the community. Have a question about your diapers? The answer was always Tide and bleach. The group spreading that gospel has died down, but the Tide following has not.

Daily I see people asking for help with their diapers. Their diapers stink. They have ammonia. They have barnyard stink. They have leaks. When you have these problems, there is a cause.

Ammonia - Diapers not being rinsed, too much detergent, not enough detergent, and more.
Barnyard - Diapers aren't getting clean enough.
Leaks - Poor fit, not enough absorbency, and occasionally repelling.

Let's dissect the barnyard one. Just because your diapers aren't getting clean enough does not mean you need to switch detergents. Sometimes someone will post about their barnyard problem and the comments will simply be this...Use Tide. No further questions. Just Tide. Sorry, but no. How many diapers are you washing at once? How much water are you using? What detergent and how much are you using? These are all important questions! If you're washing too many diapers they can't get clean. If you're washing too few diapers they don't have enough in the washer to agitate properly. If you're using too much water your diapers can't agitate together. If you're using too little water your diapers can't get clean. If you use too little detergent, your diapers obviously won't get clean and you should up the amount you use. If we didn't change any of those variables and you just switched your detergent, you will probably end up back at square one in very little time.

Tide and cloth diapers

My point is this. Does Tide work? Yes! Does it get diapers clean? Yes! But is that the only solution? Absolutely not! Can you fix your problems without switching to Tide? Most of the time! If we're going to suggest Tide as the savior of all cloth diaper problems, why not just recommend disposables? "Help! My diapers are leaking!" Answer: Buy disposables.

Now I hear you...Some of you switched to Tide and it solved all of your problems! That's awesome! I'm so glad that something is working for you and that your diapers are clean. After all, I want all parents to be successful on their cloth diapering journey, but it isn't the answer all the time and it definitely isn't the only answer.

Planet got my diapers just as clean as Tide and didn't contain the nasty ingredients. If you're in the market for a cloth diaper detergent, there are many great options. If you are concerned about protecting the warranty on your diapers and the investment you've made, check with the manufacturer of your diapers for a suggested list. If you are are concerned about the health and environmental impact that your detergent may have, check with the EWG. Knowing your water type can really make a difference in your success. Get a water test strip and wash your diapers accordingly. If you are having problems with your diapers, please talk with someone that will help you troubleshoot! Don't just accept Tide (or whatever else the next fad is) as the answer. Be sure you've explored all your options.

***Update*** 
This post isn't about Tide. Okay, it's a little about Tide, but Tide isn't the point. This post could have easily been titled "Stripping is not {always} the answer!" Basically, there are a host of words I could have put in place of Tide. Many readers got caught up on the Tide issue and missed the whole point.

The point is this...without all of the proper information, we shouldn't be offering quick solutions to fixing diaper problems. We need a lot of information to diagnose the problem. Please read this post carefully. Switching detergents and stripping diapers are sometimes the solution, but not always.

Oh, and regarding the part about suggesting disposable diapers, of course I was stretching things and exaggerating. Yes, it was a leap, but it's a true point. If we can't offer correct and helpful solutions to cloth diapering issues, we can't help our fellow moms (and dads) be successful on their cloth diaper journey. The wrong solution over and over again or quick fixes that put you back at square one are just frustrating and discouraging. 
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