Plant Based and Free & Clear

Home >> How to Wash Cloth Diapers >> Washing Your Diapers In Plant-based or Free and Clear Detergents

by Holly Rhodes

Here at Fluff Love & CD Science, we are not Tide-only Mamas! We LOVE the natural methods, but we only LOVE the ones that work! In fact, while Tide is very effective, most of our admins do just great while favoring other detergent choices. There are many effective “alternative” choices.

Plant Based & Natural Detergents

How will I know if my detergent is plant based?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Look for phrases such as: “natural”, “gentle on the earth”, “earth friendly”, “eco-friendly”, etc. If you are unsure, feel free to ask!

Not all plant based detergents are created equal. For many, simply increasing usage amount can compensate for a weak formula but for some, they just aren’t strong enough to tackle the job of cleaning human waste. The key is to know how to use it and how much to use.

The standard rules:

– Main wash on Hot (Pre-wash temp is personal preference)

– Use 1x the recommended amount in your pre-rinse/pre-wash

– Use 1.5-2x the recommended amount in the main wash

– Use a water softener if you have hard water at all.

Some of the best plant based/natural tried and true detergents are:

  • Biokleen *Not HE safe
  • Method *HE safe
  • Ology
  • Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible *HE Safe
  • Seventh Generation *HE Safe
  • Planet
  • Sun *HE safe (please note, their scented detergents do use synthetic fragrances so, if that is something you would like to avoid, opt for their Free & Clear version)
  • Purex Naturals *HE SAFE (please note, it is scented.)

*Please Note: There ARE other plant based detergent that CAN work. These are simply our go-to suggestions as they have very high success rates. If you have a specific question about a detergent, please feel free to ask

Plant Based/Natural Detergents that are not *generally* effective:

  • Molly’s Suds
  • Ecos
  • Nellie’s
  • Crunchy Clean
  • Honest Co
  • Tiny Bubbles (this is not actually plant based, but it is often categorized with these detergents so we included it here.)
  • BumGenius
  • Rock n Green
  • Soap Nuts
  • Eco Nuts
  • Soap Berries
  • Charlie’s Soap
  • Country Save (this one is borderline – many people have success with it in the right conditions.)
  • Ecosprout

Free & Clear Detergents

While these detergents may still include synthetic ingredients, they are free of dyes and fragrances for those with sensitive skin. For this reason, they are formulated using entirely different ingredients to be 100% dye and fragrance free. They are not simply the same formula sans optical brighteners, dyes and fragrances, as some of the fundamental ingredients of standard detergents contain these things. Because of this, they are also generally weaker than their “full strength counterparts.”

The standard rules:

– Use 1/2x the recommended amount in your pre-rinse/pre-wash

– Use 1.5x the recommended amount in your main wash

– Use a water softener if you have hard water at all.

Some of the best Free & Clear Detergents:

  • Tide Free & Gentle LIQUID *HE safe
  • Tide Free & Gentle POWDER *Not HE safe
  • Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin *HE safe
  • Purex Free & Clear Liquid *HE Safe
  • Cheer Free & Gentle Liquid *Not HE safe
  • Biokleen Free & Clear * Not HE safe  (Please note that this is also a plant based detergent and the plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)
  • Method Free & Clear *HE safe (Please note that this is also a plant based detergent and the plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)
  • Seventh Generation 4X Concentrated Free & Clear *HE safe (Please note that this is also a plant based detergent and the plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)

*Please Note: There ARE other Free & Clear detergents that CAN work. These are simply our go-to suggestions as they have very high success rates. If you have a specific question about a detergent, please feel free to ask.

Free & Clear Detergents that are not *generally* effective:

  • Ecos
  • All Free & Clear
  • Kirkland Signature Free & Clear
  • Allen’s Naturally (despite its name, it is not a plant based detergent)

*Please Note: Some of these CAN work for some people but depend on many factors such as: water conditions, usage amounts, type of diapers, etc.

HE Safe/Non-HE safe explanation: Look for the HE logo on the *front* of the container. A truly HE safe detergent will recommend the same amount to be used for both non-HE machines and HE machines. This means that they have changed the formula to be low-sudsing. If a detergent claims to be safe, “for all machines”, but tell you to use less in an HE machine then it is not truly HE safe. They are simply asking you to use less as to not over suds your machine. When it comes to cleaning poop and pee out of your diapers you simply cannot skimp on detergent.