Save Yourself the Stress: Washing Cloth Diapers With Tide

Because I have the Detergent Database, Stink Issues Chart, Stripping Diapers Tutorial, and the thousands of responses to the Washing Diapers Survey, I tend to get a lot of questions about cloth diaper stink issues and I LOVE answering them.

But I figured I could take a minute to write a post and talk about what I generally recommend to people. Whenever someone has a stink issue, I generally send them over to this chart before I give any advice, because water type, amount of detergent, and several other factors contribute to how good or bad your diapers smell. And so far, I am yet to have someone report that it didn’t work.

But even with that in mind, I keep finding myself saying the same thing: USE TIDE!

Cloth Diapering Shouldn't Be Stressful. Got Stinky Diapers? Try Tide.

I know, it’s taboo in this fluffy world. We worry about diaper damage…but in my opinion, the extra hot washes and stripping that many are doing to help fight a stink issue is causing more damage than just using Tide. Plus survey responses showed that using Tide made absolutely NO difference in the presence of diaper damage when compared with other detergents. Don’t believe me? Read here.

Now this may void a diaper’s warranty, so check on that. But I just think we are making cloth diapering 100 times more difficult troubleshooting a bunch of stink issues when Tide, for the most part, solves issues. The detergent has extra water softener, which is why it works for hard water users as well. In my water, I often need a little more of a boost than that, so I occasionally add 1 tablespoon of washing soda (available in the laundry detergent aisle of your grocery store).

Here is my Tide recommendation: TIDE Original (it may say “Ultra” on the box, that’s OK), the Powdered form, filled to the ‘1’ line

Some of you CAN’T use Tide because your baby has a sensitivity to the detergent. If that’s the case, the second best alternative that I personally have found is to use the recommended amount of Country Save plus one tablespoon of washing soda. You can also hop on over to the Detergents Database and see what survey respondents recommended.

If Tide or the Stink Issues Chart don’t work, please do not hesitate to contact me and I’d be happy to help you troubleshoot: [email protected]

Please do not hold me liable for any diaper damage or health issues that you may encounter as a result of trying Tide or any other detergent. There is a recent study that shows small traces of dioxane in Tide (but still less than that mandated by the EPA), so use with caution.


  1. Joy Ried says

    Right now I am using the Tide Ultra powder on a top loader. I’m planing on moving to a place where there will be a front loader. Is it better to switch to the liquid? Or will the powder work fine in the front loader? If so, is it a good idea to dissolve in hot water before putting it in the washer? Or just put the powder in?

  2. Caetiri says

    So… I use prefolds, and I find sometimes that until they are entirely dry I can get a little stink, but once entirely dry I have none, so I haven’t worried about it (been using Seventh Generation, switching to Tide now). Yeah, I have some staining, but i don’t really need my prefolds to be pristine. I just need them to work.

    Which is all great… until my 6 month old got a yeast-y diaper rash that would not quit.

    I’ve done so many different things to try to deal with the rash, and i think we’re getting somewhere – but not in cloth diapers. When we switch back to the prefolds, it comes back. And yes, that’s after doing a strip. Onto strip #2 tonight (boiling, and biokleen natural bleach).

    Any recommendations? Anything I should do now vs. do on a regular basis?

    • says

      Hmm, yeast can be difficult to get rid of : You might want to see if your doctor will culture the rash to figure out if it IS yeast or if it’s possibly bacteria. Are you still having the issue? (Sorry it took me so long to respond!) :(

  3. Sara says

    So glad others use Tide, too and that it’s okay for my diapers! A few questions though: I saw one commenter mentioned free and gentle – I use the powdered form of this. My prefolds come out smelling fine, but sometimes I think the covers have a faint pee smell (my husband thinks I’m imagining this). Do you recommend Tide original powder over the f&g powder? Also you say you use washing soda as a booster. I’ve been using baking soda… should I be using washing soda instead, and why? Also I add vinegar to my rinse (I have an HE front loader, and hard water in our area, in case that makes a difference)

    • says

      You can see from our detergent statistics that people do tend to prefer Tide Ultra to Tide Free ( but you might just need to try each and see which works best for you. Washing soda is used for softening water – baking soda isn’t as strong so while lots of people use it, it won’t actually help soften the water (which is what you need to help your detergent be more effective in hard water conditions).

      • says

        I’ve heard that before, too, but I have super hard water and have used vinegar without any issues. I believe it has to do with the specific mineral content of your water, and in ours it hasn’t been a problem :)

  4. Liz W says

    I’m going to CD as soon as my LO arrives in a few weeks, and after months of research the washing has been one of the most confusing things. Thanks for this post- I’m going to try this first, since I already use Tide for my other laundry.

    • says

      There are plenty of people who never have any troubles washing their diapers, but for those that do, it can definitely be the most frustrating part :( Feel free to let us know if you have any questions down the line, otherwise, good luck with your impending baby! :)

  5. Amber Rivera says

    I have just now switched to tide professional because the tide ultra still gave me stinks. And I also use a half a cup of borax because I have extreme hard water

  6. piacere68 says

    I bought a small box of Tide Ultra to try because I am tired of my hard water giving me ammonia and barnyard stink in my crappy old toploader. It didn’t come with a scoop! How much is the 2 line in tablespoons?

    • says

      Hahaha, oh man, that is awful but hilarious at the same time! I would think the lines for different brands of powdered detergent would all be the same, but I have absolutely no idea! I’ll ask on our Facebook wall for you :)

      • piacere68 says

        Great! Thank you so much! I tried 3 tablespoons and a tablespoon of Calgon tonight, so we’ll see how that goes.

  7. Heidi says

    Tide Original Powder is different than Tide Ultra. They have stopped making Original, which worked much better. After using Ultra for a while my ammonia problems are back!

      • Melissa schossow says





        • says

          It never seems to have worked as well as it did before, but the problems have been more about lingering barnyard stink (and not an issue with build-up or leakage. Most people who don’t like the Acti-lift version report similar stink issues, but not much else). After reading an article from All About Cloth DIapers, though, I started adding some oxygen bleach to each load and that has helped immensely! (I think a lot of Tide users now use that combo). So if you’re using it right now and everything is clean and your baby is doing well, I’d just stick with that! If you end up with problems down the line then you can troubleshoot them then, but you might be one of the people that never has any troubles with this formula :)

  8. Catherine says

    So what is the washing routine with Tide? Right now I do a cold water wash and then a hot water wash with the extra rinse cycle selected. Do I keep doing that with Tide?

    • says

      The most common wash routine to start with is a pre-rinse (some people do cold because they worry about setting in stains, but warm or hot water will do a better job at rinsing away bodily fluids), a long hot water wash (whatever your most heavy duty option is, with the exception of a “sanitize” cycle, which will be too hot and potentially damage your diapers), and then an extra rinse (hot or warm if possible, though with a lot of newer machines the only option is cold). Then you can tweak as necessary :)

  9. savannah says

    I tried tide original liquid on my clothes to see how i liked it. My pregnant nose CANNOT stand the over powering scent! its awful! we put the sheets back on our bed late at night and it was so strong i couldnt stand to be in our room much less asleep on the bed. i seriously slept on the couch and then immediately the next morning ran them through a hot wash with no deter then gave the rest of the bottle to my dad. with how strong it smelled i cant believe it works for diapers.

    • says

      Just like any other scented product, once you’ve used it for awhile your nose gets accustomed to it and you just stop noticing it! (Though pregnant noses might not ever get used to it! Pregnancy hormones mess with EVERYTHING!) ūüėČ But if you wanted to try again in the future you might have an easier time with it after a while.

  10. Tracie D says

    I’ve been using tide for 9 months with great results. I have never had to strip, even with my hard water, my diapers are stain free and never stink! I use 2 good sized tablespoons per load, which is a little less than the 1 line.

  11. Kellie Oke says

    Im going to switch to tide very soon. I have only been cd for almost 2 months and have already had to strip multiple times to switch detergents that we just couldnt get the stink to go away with. I already feel like I am taking the life out of my diapers. One more strip and then we will switch to tide and hopefully all issues will be solved.

  12. Crystal says

    Do you find that Tide works better than Rockin’ Green? I just bought a bag of it but as soon as it runs out I think I will use Tide (that’s what we use on the rest of our clothes anyway–much easier to just have one detergent.)

    • says

      That question is hard to answer for two reasons. 1 – I don’t count how many diapers are in the pail, I just wash them when it gets full! And 2 – the number will be affected by what kinds of diapers you use (you can fit more Softbums inserts in a single wash than you can large flats or prefolds). Most people wash every 2-3 days, so the number of diapers you would accumulate in that time is probably a good guess. But mostly using till line 1 is a good place to start, and you can adjust from there as needed. I use more than that without issue, and I’ve heard of some people using less, but it’s something to try! :)

  13. Stone says

    Sounds well in good but everyone in my family is allergic to tide so it’s a no go for me. Any other recommendations hopefully something more natural?

  14. says

    I just got Tide free and gentle liquid. I have had a horrible time with stink and leaks. I have all different kinds of pockets, natural cotton and bamboo but mostly MF. I just washed them in the new Tide, and I have some Washing soda to use if it isn’t better at all. I am at my parents frequently (as now) and they have a front loader, I have a top at home. So I need to get original tide or is this ok?

    • says

      Liquid Tide and Free and Gentle Tide both don’t rate nearly as well as the powdered Ultra do. I’d definitely try that if I were you. What kind of stink issues are you having?

  15. linn says

    how many diapers do you put in one load? i’m having stink issues since baby started solids. so, until i figure this out, i’ve been putting him in disposables when i *think* he’s gonna go #2.

    i did wash a load of about 13 diapers and i put tide ultra to 1/2 line. there were TONS of suds so i had to rinse 3 times. i’m not really into using that much water! anyway, i did notice an improvement on the smell, but the pocket covers (bumgenius) still smell pretty bad. how many diapers are you washing in a full load when you use tide to line 1?

    i live in seattle i believe our water is on the softer side.

    • says

      Hmm, softer water is completely out of my range of expertise (I’m more familiar with super hard water!) I tend to do however many diapers fit in our diaper pail (it’s a standard kitchen trashcan, whatever size that is!) bumGenius recommends using bleach on occasion, so you could try a little of that and it wouldn’t void their warranty (I THINK anyhow! Check before you do anything if you’re concerned about warranties!) I, personally, don’t see much reason to be concerned with suds – if there’s still a lot built up on the door of my front loader, then I might do an extra rinse. Otherwise I don’t pay any attention to suds. But again, I don’t have soft water, so I’m really not concerned about the detergent being washed out! You might want to post this question in the forums and hopefully some fellow soft water people will be better able to help you out! (

    • Bryanna says

      I use to the 1 line for a “normal” load of about 15-20 diapers. The 2 line for a larger load. And even believe it or not all the way up to the 3 line when Ive been REALLY lazy and not washed for a few days and have an extra large load or an extra poopy load.

  16. Abby says

    I just started using Tide ultra powder (filled to the 1 line) with hard water (although we do have a water softener) and a front loading HE washer. I have seen a lot of improvement in the smell of the diapers so I would like to stick with it. However, when I rinse I see TONS of suds! It seems like there is still a lot of detergent because I have to rinse so many times. Is this common with Tide?

    • Yardley says

      I use tide and love it for 7 months now. No more stink or rashes. But lots of bubbles. I do an entire light wash and rinse with no soap on cold. After my actual hot water wash. This solved my issues

    • Melissa says

      Abby, we have soft water and an HE machine and only do 2 Tablespoons of Tide, which is about 1/2 way to the 1 line. That seems to be just the right amount for the diapers to get clean but not need tons and tons of rinses.

  17. Rosa says

    I just want to say thanks for all of your reviews and research. We’ve been cloth diapering for 3 months and haven’t ran into much trouble, but I like to read your site to educate myself, and I have actually been able to help others with their issues from things I’ve learned from you. I also think it’s very sweet that you are more than willing to have us contact you for any troubleshooting if need be. Also I’m always trying to find articles of yours and am glad you have a pin it button because I would have never thought of that lol.

  18. Brittany says

    Love this! I never really thought about all the extra the diapers go through when I could do that simple solution and use Tide. I use it for clothes anyway, so it’d be one less thing to have to buy. Thanks!

  19. says

    I was having stink issues and I hemmed and hawed about using Tide. I wanted to use something more “natural”. I was doing all sorts of research, mostly by using your website (thanks!!) and finally, I ran out of Charlie’s Soap (which I hated but finished b/c I’m cheap) and had to get something right away so I bought some Tide. I am so glad I did. It solved all my problems. No more stink, no more rashes. No more stripping and extra rinsing. I’m loving the Tide.


  1. […] Padded Tush Stats (love them!) tells us to save ourselves the stress and just use Tide. This guest post at My Cloth Diaper Stash (also love!) is decidedly less in favour of Tide. Bummis¬†is¬†down with Tide Free & Gentle, but not the regular powder. Tide Free & Gentle is also recommended by AppleCheeks.¬†Rumparooz has Tide Ultra Powder as its number one choice (followed by Gain!) and AMP lists Tide (and Gain and Sunlight!) as great choices. […]

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