Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Dangers of Fabric Softeners and Cloth Diapers: One Reader's Story

There are a lot of things that you must avoid when using cloth diapers, and fabric softeners are on of them. Fabric softeners are a no-no when using cloth diapers. Let me explain...

Fabric softeners do as their title states, they soften and decrease the static in clothing or fabrics. But how exactly do the softeners do this? Basically, the softeners coat the clothing with oils and other enzymes making them soft. This coating will also cause diapers to repel fluids and not absorb. This will lead to lots of leaky diapers and wet babies!

Not only this, but if you use fabric softeners in your washer/dryer, some of the oils  can bind to your washer/dryer so that when your cloth diapers go in, they may pick up some of the "left overs." This can lead to a very bad case of softener build-up in your diapers. 

One reader had just this problem. She bought 17 Applecheeks Diapers used from a woman who had mentioned that the diapers "smelled like" and were "stored" near fabric softener. The diapers were also "greasy." This reader knew she would have a challenge on her hands, but was willing to go the extra mile to strip those diapers.

Here are the things she tried:
1) Stripping with Dawn
2) RLR Treatment
3) Overnight Soak with Rockin' Green
4) Overnight Soak with Dawn & Washing Soda
5) Scrubbing Dawn into the diapers and letting soak overnight

and nothing worked, then finally...

She tried 4 tablespoons of Rocking Green Soap that soaked the diapers from 6pm to 8am. This was followed by 2 hot washes and 5-6 rinses, and it worked!! Yeah! Success. It is hard to pinpoint what actually helped the most because the previous 5 treatments all probably helped to get the diapers clean. This mama was very happy that she was able to get her diapers cleaned!

It can be very frustrating when you run into problems or obstacles with your diapers, but that is why we are here! To support one another and give each other advice. We are all learning, all of the time!

So if you can't use fabric softeners on Cloth Diapers, what can you do to ensure your fluff is nice and fluffy?

Wool Dryer Balls provide an all natural fabric softener by using the bouncing motion of the balls to gently fluff the laundry allowing an increased air flow and thus decreased dryer time. Just throw the recommended amount into the dryer with your clothes or diapers and they will be naturally fluffed. Check out the Buddha Bunz dryer balls which are currently on clearance at 20% off from Kissed by the Moon

Vinegar acts as an all natural fabric softener. Use no more than 1/4 cup during the first rinse cycle of your Hot Wash to help get the left over soap or detergent out of the diapers. You may find that you need more depending on your particular situation. Do what works best for you. But please be aware that if you have hard water, vinegar may not be such a good idea.

Did you ever have to deal with fabric softener diaper issues?

Do you use any alternative fabric softeners for your precious dipes?


  1. Don't use vinegar on your stash unless you're sure it won't void the manufacturer's warranty! Dryer balls are super easy to diy, though:

    1. Great point! Always check the manufacturer warranty! Thanks for the link to the post:-)

  2. The very FIRST time that I asked my 11 year old son to put the cloth diapers into the dryer, he asked me if he should put the fabric softener in. My desperate scream of NO was almost enough to shatter glass, and woke up both our toddler and our infant. I almost had a heart attack. I have since eliminated fabric softener from our home. We use wool dryer balls on everything that gets dried.

  3. I'm very meticulous about my wash routine. The only "softener" I do is throw in some wool balls to beat them in the dry cycle. I need to get more, though.

  4. I am just starting with cloth diapers so, thank you for this. It was very informative. I can't wait to really get started cding and I am loving learning as much as I can!

    1. Great to hear! Be sure to ask lots of questions, I am here to help:-)

  5. I am just starting cloth diapering and came across this. I am glad I did too. :) I did not know about the wool balls, I will have to try that. Thank you

  6. My mum once put fabric softener in my cloth diaper wash. I was freaking out, and immediately stripped those diapers. Thankfully, nothing happened.

  7. Wow I never realized how damaging fabric softner could be. We have never used it but great thing to point out to anyone washing my diapers. I would probably cry lol

  8. I'm a firm believer in RnG. It's the most crucial part of my laundry routine.

  9. I use Ecover fabric softener with our bamboo fitteds and cotton prefolds.

  10. I haven't used fabric softener since I found out all the nasty stuff in it. Yuck! No need to put that on baby's sensitive skin! I do need to invest in some wool dryer balls though. I have plastic ones, but I still end up with crunchy laundry every now and then.