Tide Original Powder is probably one of the most often recommended detergents for cloth diapers, and for good reason!
Point blank, Tide is effective. It’s ideal for hard water (which 85% of the US has), it’s powerful, and it has a great reputation.
However, many people don’t like using Tide or other non-plant based detergents. They worry about the chemicals in the detergents and how they might affect their family’s health or the environment.
Most of the time, plant-based detergents are too weak to clean human waste effectively. However, there are some commonly recommended eco-friendly detergents that seem to get the job done. Biokleen is one of those!
Why Did I Switch to Biokleen?
In an effort to try to make my wash routine as eco-friendly as possible (while still being effective), I decided to try out Biokleen Laundry Liquid. I decided to use Biokleen over other recommended plant-based detergents for the following reasons:
- Good EWG rating (I don’t think the EWG is the end-all-be-all-but I often use their info as a starting point)
- Note: I’ve only ever used the EWG website, not the “Think Dirty” app. I’ve been made aware that their rating scales are different on the website and app. I am using the info I gathered from the website, where it receives an A rating. It scored differently in the app.
- More economical than other plant-based detergents
- I loved that it only used essential oils for fragrances (see here the issues with artificial fragrances)
- Lots of reported success for use on cloth diapers
- I wanted to broaden my experiences with plant-based detergents to be able to make personal recommendations (I have also used the Kirkland Environmentally Responsible detergent with success, but did not continue with it because I could not stand the smell).
My Before & After Wash Routine
My wash routine remained the same with both Tide and Biokleen, but the amounts varied. I chose the amount for Biokleen based upon recommendations I found for cloth diapers online, and then I tweaked it a couple weeks after starting it.
With Tide Original Powder, I would do a pre-wash (light wash) with line 1 of the detergent, then the main wash (regular or heavy option depending on how big it was and how long it has been since I last did diaper laundry) with somewhere between lines 2 & 3 of detergent. This was always effective for me.
For regular laundry, Tide says using up to line 1 of their detergent is fine for a normal size load. So for diapers, I would need to use 3-4x the recommended amount of detergent to get them clean. I keep track of this simply to track the economical part of this equation.
With Biokleen, I started with 1 capful in pre-wash, and then did 2 capfuls in the main wash. This seemed to work at first, but after a couple of weeks, they didn’t smell as fresh after drying. I increased the detergent amount to 2 caps in prewash and 2 in the main wash. This has been working. This is a total of 4x the amount of recommended detergent.
How Did It Work?
After the tweak I made increasing the detergent amount, I have had no issues! I bury my face in my diapers as soon as they’re dry to check how clean they smell, and they have smelled very clean.
One thing that will be important to consider if you are switching from Tide (or similar) to a plant-based detergent is to prepare to deal with more staining. With Tide, I almost never had lasting stains. I definitely have more staining with Biokleen.
Personally, I’m not too concerned about staining. I’m only concerned about cleanliness. So if they’re clean but have a little stain, I’m okay with that.
Another item to consider is that plant-based detergents definitely need to be used with hot water (at least for diapers–you could probably use Biokleen and cold water on less-soiled laundry), whereas with Tide you could probably get away with washing on cold for diapers.
Finally, many people recommend adding a water softener like Calgon to your load if you use a plant-based detergent. These detergents do not work as well in hard water. I will be honest here… I have hard water and do not add Calgon or other softeners. I have not ever had an issue with it. It does mean I might have had to use more detergent than others (hard water can keep the detergent from activating as thoroughly, so sometimes you need more).
Maybe I’m asking for trouble not using one…but being five years into diaper washing, I feel pretty confident about being able to detect if my diapers are going to have an issue in the wash.
Despite all of this, do as I say, not as I do. 😉 I recommend using a powder softener, like Calgon, if you have hard water and want to use a plant-based detergent. This is the “official” advice in the cloth diaper world. I’m just sharing my own experience that the world has not ended because I chose not to use one. See here for more information on washing in hard water.
Pros and Cons for Biokleen
- A healthier detergent choice that significantly reduces problematic chemicals used on your laundry
- A better environmental choice than Tide
- It does work for cloth diapers!
- Great scent–very light citrus scent out of the washer, but it fades very quickly after drying since these aren’t artificial fragrances.
- An economical choice as far as plant-based detergents go (averages to $0.18/capful based on the price I bought it at)
- Note about price per load: Don’t take the price per load given to you in the product details at face value. The price per load at the price I bought Biokleen at said $0.09 in the details, but that was for half a cap that they said was suitable for HE machines. Since I am using four full capfuls per load, that means my detergent cost $0.72/load of diapers and $0.18/load of regular laundry.
- A little more expensive than Tide
- I can only find it online (no local stores carry it in stock around here)
- Staining is more of an issue
- May require a water softening agent if used with hard water
- Is not recommended for cloth diapers if you have an HE machine–while it is an HE friendly detergent, the amount you will likely need to really get your diapers clean is more than you are supposed to use in an HE machine.
- Without question, Tide works!
- Great for hard water
- Reduced staining
- Can often find sales or coupons to reduce the price
- Decent price per load (I buy it at Costco where it’s price averages $0.15/line 1 load, anywhere from $0.45-$0.60 per diaper load)
- Great for HE or regular machines
- I’ve used it with success washing on both cold and hot for diapers.
- Many people have concerns about the chemicals used in Tide for a lot of reasons pertaining to both health and the environment.
- Many people hate the scent of Tide.
Which Will I Continue to Use?
I would happily use either detergent. Considering I would like to reduce water pollutants, I will probably continue with Biokleen. However, if at any point in time my diapers started to suffer, I would move back to Tide Original Powder in a heartbeat. Sometimes we need to pick our battles and we can’t be perfect.
I also prefer powders to liquids, so next time I think I will try the Biokleen laundry powder.
Do you use Biokleen? Have you tried it on diapers? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!