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.

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. 


  1. I tried Tide for a couple of days. YUCK! I had to rinse three to four times to get all the detergent out. Never again!

  2. This is why I always tell people that they need to get the full picture before recommending Tide or bleach or RLR or just saying strip the diapers... Unless you know ALL the factors, you cant fix the problem.

  3. I worked so hard to find something more eco-friendly to wash with, and Tide gave us a rash. I use Kirkland Free & Gentle from Costco, totally not eco-friendly, but it came down to either having do excessive wash cycles and strip often, or wash only my diaps in Kirkland. It was a huge existential dilemma, quite seriously!!

  4. do u have to wash out your washer after the diapers so u dont have probs with the rest of your clothes????? i mean you are washing bacteria laden items & then use the same washer for your other things that touch your skin & those microbes may be hiding in your washer. back in the day they never used the washer for the diapers they were done by hand or so my mother told me just for that reason. i used disposables because it was better for a super wetter & all i would have done all day was diapers & unless u made your own they had horrible cloth ones

    1. The bacteria gets washed away... like out with the water. Thats why its important to use a good detergent to ensure that all the bacteria and waste are sufficiently washed out and rinsed down the drain.

    2. No you don't have to wash out your washing machine after washing your diapers. Soap and water goes down the drain and the washer is clean. Hot water also helps kill anything in the diapers. Solids are remove before washing, you don't through the diaper and whole poop in. As well, everyone should clean out there washing machine every so often, esp if you have a front loader as the seals can trap debris. I know that my mom washed them in the washer when I was in cloth. To put in a comparison, you wash your hands in the kitchen sink after handling chicken. After supper you wash your dishes in that same sink. Do you worry about salmonella? Or, do you wash your underwear in the washing machine? There was a study a while back (sorry I don't have a reference) that said most peoples underwear had fecal matter on it as often they were being washed in cold or warm water which didn't allow them to be properly cleaned. So... I hope that helped ease your mind :)

  5. Oh, goodness, yes. This. I loathe Tide. It stinks. The smell makes me ill and aggravates my asthma. I won't have it in my house. That's not even touching the environmental and potential health impact. It irritates me to no end when Tide is suggested like it's the great savior. Almost as irritating as hearing "cloth diaper friendly" detergents referred to as "unicorn poop."

  6. We use only homemade laundry detergent for cloth diapers. My neighbor makes it and sells it. So far its the only detergent that doesn't really leave build up and my son's diapers don't reek of amonia the moment they get wet. Also I don't have to use nearly as much to get them clean.

  7. I have to say that when I saw the title of the post I thought it was going to be an aggressive anti-Tide rant, so thank you for proving me wrong :) I'm one of those people who uses mainstream detergents on my diapers and won't hesitate to share what has worked for me with others who ask. But with that said, if someone asks for laundry troubleshooting help, my first priority is to talk about their current routine and see if it's possible to get better results with what they already have. If nothing else works or they just WANT to change detergents (or need to, as you did when Planet stopped being available) then my first question is whether or not they are comfortable using mainstream detergents. Yes, Tide worked great for me and solved all my issues, but I respect the fact that lots of people can't or don't want to use it for a variety or reasons. I think it should still be provided to people as an option (and that there shouldn't be any shame or stigma involved in using it) but there's never a single laundry routine that works well for everyone, so telling everyone to use Tide without learning more about their problems or options is ridiculous. Nicely written!

  8. "If we're going to suggest Tide as the savior of all cloth diaper problems, why not recommend disposables?"

    Uh... because it's totally not the same thing? Because some moms NEED a quick fix and don't have time to spend listening to 500 different opinions on the Internet, but *still* want to cloth diaper? This question makes no sense whatsoever. (And fyi, Tide has been reformulated since its "carcinogen scare.")

  9. Thank you for this post. We currently use commercial detergents for all our laundry (tide for diapers) and I keep asking for natural laundry solutions for when we're out. 99% of the answers I get are along the lines of don't switch, use this other chemical filled mainstream detergent, or that doesn't exist forget about natural detergents. I'm just going to have to experiment on my own I guess!

  10. I'm at least partially with Rohanite here. There's a big difference between using tide (particularly a free and clear without about 3/4 of the 'stuff' added in) and using disposables. For one thing, not everyone uses the same detergent on their diapers AND their clothes ( we don't). Then there's putting all the disposables in the landfill. There's also the expense. It's not ALL about the detergent. There's a lot of factors involved that have nothing to do with what you wash the diapers in! Comparing tide to disposables is way off base in my opinion. The only time I'd ever saying anything based as 'do this only' was bleach and that was the crazies from the CDC. The only people I see recommending Tide do so after trying to fix every single issue and coming up with roadblocks.

  11. I wish there didn't have to be so much detergent drama, and I'm not sure why people use words like loathe and hate when it comes to Tide - or even other brands. If it doesn't work for you, or you have certain reasons for not using it, then just leave it at that. Tide works great for our family, but that doesn't mean I "hate" other brands!

  12. The detergent drama just gets to me. This recent thread on BabyCenter's Cloth Diaper board just made me so sad:


    I wish the OP would read your post, but that's probably asking for trouble, lol.


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