Monday, June 14, 2010

Detergent Throwdown follow-up


I've been Cloth Diapering for just under two years.  I used to have two in fluff but now it's just my boy, age one as of yesterday.  I have a top loader, normal (not hard or soft) water, and a mix of pockets, fitteds and covers, AIOs and AI2s.  PUL, microfiber, hemp, bamboo, and cotton all have a place in my stash.  I have previously used Tide, All FC military, and Dawn.  Then I tried Rocking Green after hearing all the raves and my quest for a cheap, convenient, and effective CD detergent began.  I love RG but mail order is not convenient.  This test was to help me determine if it is the cheapest detergent that does all that it does. 

What's special about cloth diaper laundry:

Most big brand detergents do not rinse out fully.  That "fresh laundry smell" is actually leftover chemicals in your laundry.  Over time that can build up and make your diapers leak.

Additionally, CDs need to be cleaned more thoroughly than, for example, a shirt.  Biological waste can make you sick.  It needs to be fully removed from anything pressed against your baby 24 hours a day.   A half a dose of detergent in a load of laundry typically does effectively remove or kill bacteria from diapers. How to tell?  Leave your wet diapers in the washer for 48 hours.  The smell you get when you open the washer is bacteria by-product.  They were still living in your diapers.  Some count on the heat of the dryer to finish the sanitizing.  I'd rather just have them good and dead.  (BTW, that scent left in your laundry by most big label detergents is designed to mask any bacteria smells.) 

And so began my test. 

Crunchy Clean: Didn't.  Using the amount recommended gave me an outhouse scented house as soon as the diapers warmed up in the dryer.  Gag, hork, spew.  That let me know there was still human waste residue in my diapers.  An ineffective wash.  I tried using more per load as recommended by others on the cloth diaper board and wound up with a lot of residue in my diapers.  I didn't stick with it long enough to have to deal with build up leaks and I was lucky not to face rashes but there was a lot of it in the diapers.  It worked better than nothing on the rest of the laundry (towels, jeans, etc.) by doubling the amount but I won't buy any more.

Sudzy Baby:  I started cussing as soon as I opened it.  You can see the shaved bar soap in it.  This did not bode well for clean rinsing.  I also knew I wouldn't be buying any more.  If it worked it would show me that I could make my own detergent.  It worked for regular clothes.  For diapers it was a mess.  I didn't feel like it was clean rinsing but they smelled clean enough coming out of the wash.  Not "I want to take a big wiff of the freshness clean" but unsoiled.  Then came the day I changed Bubba's diaper and was hit in the face with a burst of lavender.  The only lavender in the house was in the Sudzy Baby.  Clearly it was NOT rinsing out.  He's also had a few rashes with it.  Had I kept using it on the diapers I feel confident my satisfaction would have continued to decline.  Instead I stripped and moved on to the next thing for the diapers.  I do look forward to making my own detergent for the rest of our clothes though. 

Rocking Green:  It rinses clean.  No build up, no smell, just nice soft fabric.  Easily my favorite detergent for diapers.  It also makes my husband's uniforms smell clean.  They hold the funk in a way that Tide and All have never been able to cut even with Oxyclean or color safe bleach.  Rocking Green also does a good enough job killing bacteria that if I forget a load in the wash for a day or even two it still smells OK when I get back to it. 
I HATE that it requires monogamy.  Rocking Green does not play well with other detergents.  If you switch to something else then when you switch back to Rocking Green you are supposed to "Rock the Soak", soak your laundry in Rocking Green and hot water for an hour.  This process allows Rocking Green to bond to the residue in your clothes and then rinse it out.  If you don't Rock the Soak well then buyer beware.  If it was a clean rinsing detergent you'll be fine.  If not then you may be rocking the funk.

Hard Rock:  I don't get it.  It's supposed to be a souped up version of Rocking Green but I guess I don't have whatever the problem is that it solves.  I told the maker of RG that I had regular water but she said I should try Hard Rock anyway.  I tried. It didn't seem to make any difference.  Since I don't have any complaints about RG I guess I wouldn't know what to look for in an improved version.

Tiny Bubbles:  What a crock.  4 Tablespoons for a top loader?!?  That's twice as much as recommended by any of the other CD detergents I tested.  It better be cheap.  Yeah, it's not.  It's not particularly clean rinsing or super active either.  It didn't even get all the washable fingerpaint out of a painting smock.

That's it for now.  I have a few more things in the basement to test but I like to give it several tries on the CDs (I wash every two or three days) and a few loads of regular laundry before I post about it.  To do that to a few detergents takes a month or more.  More reviews once I have more data. :)


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