There is heated debate in the cloth diapering community about weather or not it is ok to use commercial detergents instead of “cloth diaper safe” detergents. It is recommended to use “cloth diaper safe” detergents because commercial detergents are said to leave residues causing detergent buildup and eventually may cause your diapers to repel liquid. It has also been said that many of these commercial detergents are said to contain chemicals that can be an irritant to your baby’s skin. We also know that many commercial detergents are not great for the environment because they contain ingredients that are not biodegradable or are toxic.
The environmental factor is honestly why I have chosen to stick with “cloth diaper safe” detergents. I don’t want you to think that I’m completely unbiassed on the subject. I favor Charlie’s Soap used with Charlie’s Laundry Booster (due to my hard water). That being said, this is as subjective a post as it gets with the information below. The following list is from a PDF on http://www.pgproductsafety.com/ The underlined portion in quotes below is from Proctor & Gamble’s site. The definitions (not underlined) are from wikipedia and other sites linked directly to their sources.
“Ultra Tide Free Powdered Detergent
Ingredient Name / Function
Sodium Carbonate / removes water hardness (also known as washing soda or soda ash), Na2CO3 is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It most commonly occurs as a crystalline heptahydrate, which readily effloresces to form a white powder, the monohydrate. Sodium carbonate is domestically well known for its everyday use as a water softener. It can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is synthetically produced in large quantities from salt (sodium chloride) and limestone in a process known as the Solvay process.
Sodium Aluminosilicate / removes water hardness Sodium aluminosilicate is an acid salt comprising sodium, aluminium, silicon and oxygen. These include synthetic amorphous sodium aluminosilicate, a few naturally occurring minerals and synthetic zeolites. Synthetic amorphous sodium aluminosilicate is widely used as a food additive.
Alkyl Sulfate / surfactant (Redirected from Alkyl sulfate) Organosulfates are a class of organic compounds sharing a common functional group commonly with the structure R-O-SO3-. The SO4core is a sulfate group and the R group is any organic residue. All organosulfates are formally esters derived from alcohols and sulfuric acid, although many are not prepared in this way. Many sulfate esters are used in detergents, and some are useful reagents. Alkyl sulfates consist of a hydrophobic hydrocarbon chain, a polar sulfate or sulfonate group (containing an anion) and either a cation or amineto neutralize the sulfate group. Examples include: sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as sulfuric acid mono dodecyl ester sodium salt) and related potassium and ammonium salts.
Sodium Sulfate / processing aid Sodium sulfate is the sodium salt of sulfuric acid. When anhydrous, it is a white crystalline solid of formula Na2SO4 known as the mineral thenardite; the decahydrate Na2SO4·10H2O has been known as Glauber’s salt or, historically, sal mirabilis since the 17th century. Another solid is the heptahydrate, which transforms to mirabilite when cooled. With an annual production of 6 milliontonnes, it is a major commodity chemical product.
Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate / surfactant Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate is a series of organic compounds with the formula C12H25C6H4SO3Na. It is a colourless salt with useful properties as a surfactant. It is usually produced as a mixture of related sulfonates. It is a major component of laundry detergent. [Environment: The chemicals in the LAS category possess properties indicating a hazard for the environment (fish, invertebrates and algae). However, they are of low priority for further work due to ready and/or rapid biodegradation and limited potential for bioaccumulation.]
Water / processing aid (We know what water is)
*Sodium polyacrylate / dispersant Sodium polyacrylate, also known as waterlock, is a polymer with the chemical formula [-CH2-CH(COONa)-]n widely used in consumer products. It has the ability to absorb as much as 200 to 300 times its mass in water. Acrylate polymers generally are considered to possess an anionic charge. While sodium neutralized polyacrylates are the most common form used in industry, there are also other salts available including potassium, lithium and ammonium.
Acrylates and acrylic chemistry have a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses that include:
Silicate / processing aid A silicate (SiO44-) is a compound containing a silicon bearing anion. The great majority of silicates are oxides, but hexafluorosilicate ([SiF6]2?) and other anions are also included. This article focuses mainly on the Si-O anions. Silicates comprise the majority of the earth’s crust, as well as the other terrestrial planets, rocky moons, andasteroids. Sand, Portland cement, and thousands of minerals are examples of silicates.
Silicate compounds, including the minerals, consist of silicate anions whose charge is balanced by various cations. Myriad silicate anions can exist, and each can form compounds with many different cations. Hence this class of compounds is very large. Both minerals and synthetic materials fit in this class.
Ethoxylate / surfactant (Redirected from Ethoxylate) Ethoxylation is an industrial process in which ethylene oxide is added to alcohols and phenols to give surfactants. The invention of the process is attributed to Schöller and Wittwer at I.G. Farben industries. Common surfactants produced by ethoxylation include alcohol ethoxylates and alcohol ethoxysulfates.
Sodium percarbonate / oxygen bleach Sodium percarbonate is a chemical, an adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide (a perhydrate), with formula 2Na2CO3 · 3H2O2. It is a colorless, crystalline, hygroscopic and water-soluble solid. It is used in some eco-friendlycleaning products and as a laboratory source of anhydrous hydrogen peroxide.
Polyethylene Glycol 4000 / stabilizer Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a polyether compound with many applications from industrial manufacturing to medicine. The structure of PEG is (note the repeated element in parentheses). PEG is also a food additive used as an anti-foaming agent.
Protease enzyme / (stain remover) A protease (also termed peptidase or proteinase) is any enzyme that conducts proteolysis, that is, begins protein catabolism by hydrolysis of the peptide bonds that linkamino acids together in the polypeptide chain forming the protein.
Proteases occur naturally in all organisms. These enzymes are involved in a multitude of physiological reactions from simple digestion of food proteins to highly regulated cascades (e.g., the blood-clotting cascade, the complement system, apoptosis pathways, and the invertebrate prophenoloxidase-activating cascade). Proteases can either break specific peptide bonds (limited proteolysis), depending on the amino acid sequence of a protein, or break down a complete peptide to amino acids (unlimited proteolysis). The activity can be a destructive change, abolishing a protein’s function or digesting it to its principal components; it can be an activation of a function, or it can be a signal in a signaling pathway.
Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate / whitening agent Optical brighteners, optical brightening agents (OBAs), fluorescent brightening agents (FBAs) or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) are dyes that absorb light in theultraviolet and violet region (usually 340-370 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum, and re-emit light in the blue region (typically 420-470 nm). Fluorescent activity is a short term or rapid emission response, unlike phosphorescence, which is a delayed emission. These additives are often used to enhance the appearance of color of fabric and paper, causing a “whitening” effect, making materials look less yellow by increasing the overall amount of blue light reflected. Brighteners are commonly added to laundry detergents to replace whitening agents removed during washing and to make the clothes appear cleaner. Optical brighteners have replaced bluing which was formerly used to produce the same effect. Some brighteners can cause allergic reactions when in contact with skin, depending on the individual.
Silicone / suds suppressor Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used insealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications (e.g., breast implants), cookware, and insulation.
Silicones are polymers that include silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sometimes other chemical elements. Some common forms include silicone oil, silicone grease, silicone rubber, and silicone resin.
Silicones are used as active compound in defoamers due to their low water solubility and good spreading properties.
Cellulase enzyme / (stain remover) Cellulase refers to a suite of enzymes produced chiefly by fungi, bacteria, and protozoans that catalyze cellulolysis (i.e. thehydrolysis of cellulose). However, there are also cellulases produced by a few other types of organisms, such as some termitesand the microbial intestinal symbionts of other termites. Several different kinds of cellulases are known, which differ structurally and mechanistically.
Cellulase is used for commercial food processing in coffee. It performs hydrolysis of cellulose during drying of beans. Furthermore, cellulases are widely used in textile industry and in laundry detergents. They have also been used in the pulp and paper industry for various purposes, and they are even used for pharmaceutical applications. Cellulase is used in the fermentation of biomass into biofuels, although this process is relatively experimental at present. Cellulase is used as a treatment for phytobezoars, a form of cellulose bezoar found in the human stomach.”
These are the ingredients that Tide lists as being contained in it’s product. What else is in there? Check out this Huffington Post article to learn more about the carcinogen 4-Dioxane that was found in Tide Free and Clear. HERE.
So, what did I learn from this research? Sodium polyacrylate is something that I was trying to avoid exposing my kiddos to in disposable diapers. And, optical brighteners don’t have much information on them. Hmmmm, a product added to coat the items in the wash to make them “appear” whiter. I’m not sure we know enough about these products to be using them daily (or close to daily) and then dumping them into our water sources (in my humble opinion). I’m guessing that optical brighteners have a lot to do with the repelling that happens to many cloth diapers since they are made to stay on fabrics (similar to the concerns with using fabric softeners). Then there’s the concern about ingredients that aren’t listed and the fact that one of them is a know cancer causing agent.
So, now you know what is in Tide and you can decide for yourself! I completely understand that many cloth diaper using mommas swear by Tide and have had problems with many recommended cloth diaper detergents. Know that there are MANY reasons for a detergent “not to work” for you. I’m working on a trouble shooting post – stay tuned! It’s a big project so please be patient!