So what is this term- detergent residue? Detergent residue is a film left behind from certain detergents and additives. You cannot see this residue and you won't notice anything until you start having problems with leaks.
The major cause of detergent residue is the use of free and clear detergents. Free and clear detergents are the WORST detergents to use on cloth diapers. What? Are you serious, you ask! Over time (usually a few weeks) using a free and clear detergent on cloth diapers will leave a waxy coating on the diapers. Pocket diapers are especially vulnerable to this as the residue actually "clogs" the pores of the fleece or suede cloth (the part the wicks moisture away) and make the diapers leak. Customers have emailed me in a panic thinking it is a defect in the diapers when actually it is a detergent problem.
Now if you have used a free and clear detergent, don't panic. First of all discontinue using it. This includes discontinue using it for your clothing AND cloth diapers. We HIGHLY recommend using one type of detergent for your regular laundry and cloth diaper laundry. If you switch back and forth you are literally creating a "scientific experiment" in your washing machine. Residues from the previous detergent will react with the next detergent and then deposit on your diapers.
Next, you need to "strip" your diapers. I know this sounds harsh but it is really quite simple. Wash your diapers in hot water with no detergent and add Oxiclean Versatile Powder (the regular version). You may need to do this routine 2-3 times, drying in between cycles.
Finally, choose a detergent that is suitable for cloth diaper laundry AND clothing laundry. We highly recommend Charlie's Soap, Allen's Naturally, or Fuzzi Bunz Detergent by Vaska.
Now my husband was a big Tide with bleach user. When I wanted to try out Charlie's Soap he said to me , "There is no way that natural stuff is going to clean like Tide." I asked him that we should try it for a week. We have never turned back. The Charlie's Soap gets all our clothes clean (and better than Tide) and we have never once had any problems with my son's cloth diapers!
Don't use vinegars, essential oils, sodas, or laundry boosters in your wash load. We believe and know that using less is so much better. Occasionally you can use regular bleach on inserts (not on pocket diapers, covers, or similiar product).
Stay tuned as next week we will fill you in on the #2 reason why cloth diapers will leak.
-Picture courtesy of Diaper Jungle . A complete resource of cloth diapering fun!