DIY Baby: How to Make Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent and Diaper Pail Deodorizers

DIY Baby: How to Make Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent and Diaper Pail Deodorizers

It’s been a long time since I had to deal with diapers, so Lesslie of The Busy B Homemaker is back today to show you two baby care products you can stop buying and start making at home. Thanks, Lesslie!

DIY Cloth Diaper Detergent

Cloth diaper detergent is super simple to make and will save you plenty of money!

When I first started cloth diapering, I used Rockin’ Green detergent, but at $16 a bag, it did NOT fit in my budget so I started making my own using a formula by The Eco-Friendly Family, and it has worked out great!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 5-gallon bucket, or other large, sealable container
  • (3) Boxes Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz each)
  • (2) Boxes 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz each)
  • (1) Large tub OxiClean Free OR OxiClean Baby (96 oz) (“Free” and “Baby” are the same thing plus I opted for the store brand and haven’t been disappointed.)
  • (1) Large bag of epsom salts (Optional. Use epsom salts if you have hard water, like I do. The harder your water is, the more salts you’ll need to add. Just try a few wash cycles and see how it works for you.)

Here’s how you make it:

Throw all of the ingredients into your 5-gallon bucket, and give a good stir. It’s kind of hard to know if it’s mixed well because the ingredients all look the same :), but mix for 3 minutes or so with a long wooden spoon then put the lid on and roll it around a bit for good measure. Done! See, it’s that easy!

Making a large batch like this is great because you won’t have any leftover borax or OxiClean and you’ve made enough detergent for a LONG time. My son is a year old now, I started using this detergent when he was about 3 months old, and I’ve made exactly ONE large batch. I still have at least 1/3 of my original batch left, too. I imagine it will last me a year or more and I wash a load of diapers every other day!

While it costs a bit more up front (about $30), it will last you MONTHS longer than any other detergent you could buy! I say that’s a pretty good deal!

How To Wash Your Diapers

So now you’ve got your awesome detergent….how do you use it? It took me quite a while to get this down.

Here are my best 3 tips:

1. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse! Any irritation that your little one may feel and any build up of detergent on your diapers that may occur is usually caused by not rinsing well enough. I have a front loading washer, which in hindsight, is not the best choice for cloth diaper washing, but I love my washing machine so I had to make it work!

My typical wash routine looks like this:

  • Cold/Cold heavy duty wash with extra rinse and no spin, NO detergent. This gives the diapers a great pre-rinse.
  • Hot/Cold heavy duty wash with extra rinse and no spin, 1 Tbsp detergent. This is your main wash cycle. You can also add a little bit of bleach every month or so (per cloth diaper manufacturer’s instructions) for disinfecting.
  • Cold rinse with extra rinse and no spin.
  • Last cold rinse with extra rinse, high spin.
  • Hang dry pockets (the actual diaper part) and tumble dry inserts on low.

Basically, the extra rinses and no spinning trick the washer into thinking the load is heavier and therefore will need more water to rinse them with. So much for saving water with that front-loader, right? 🙂

I know this looks like a lot, but really it’s just making sure you’re not forgetting about them and pressing a bunch of buttons.

2. Use LESS detergent. Notice how I said only one tablespoon of detergent? That wasn’t a mistake. Unlike store-bought clothing detergents, your homemade cloth diaper detergent doesn’t have any fillers. Only the basic necessities for getting those diapers squeaky clean. So you only need 1 Tbsp per washing. I promise. Any more than that and you’ll just need to rinse even more to make sure it all gets rinsed well.

3. Is it Working? The best way to know if your detergent is working is to smell your diapers when they come out of the washer. If they smell like….nothing, it’s working. They won’t smell like “Clean Rain” or “Subtle Lavender” or even “Cotton Laundry” because your detergent doesn’t have a fragrance. Obviously if they still smell like pee and poo something went amiss!

DIY Diaper Pail Deodorizers

Even though, I wash diapers every other day, I still sometimes cringe at the smell when I open the door to Little Man’s room. Ick! Luckily, diaper pail deodorizers are simple to make and cloth-diaper approved!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • water
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • essential oils of your choice (I prefer lemon, sweet orange, or peppermint)
  • silicone mold (or a muffin tin and paper liners if you don’t have a silicone mold)
  • airtight container for storage

Here’s what you do:

Boil your water—I start with about 4 Cups. You probably won’t need that much, but it’s better to have too much than too little!

Put your baking soda in a mixing bowl and slowly stir in your water to form a paste. It needs to be really thick, like toothpaste.

After your paste is the right consistency, add 15-20 drops of your essential oil and mix well.

Press your paste mixture into your silicone mold. Make sure there aren’t any air bubbles or they will crumble when dried. My mold has little ½” dinosaurs 🙂

Put your mold/muffin tin in cool, dry place and let dry for 24-48 hours.

When fully dry, take each disk (or dinosaur) out of it’s mold and place in an air tight container for storage. You can also place them in a ziplock bag and freeze until you’re ready to use them.

When you’re ready to use them, place a disk/dinosaur in your diaper pail so it soaks up all of those nasty smells.

The larger, muffin tin sized disks can be used for up to a month before they start to lose their effectiveness. When it’s all used up just throw it in the wash with your diapers! The essential oils help freshen and disinfect the diapers while the baking soda deodorizes and softens!

Because I wash diapers every other day, I love my little dinosaurs because I can use one dinosaur per load. I don’t have to keep track of how long the deodorizer has been in the pail… (I’m terrible about remembering to change/replace things long term.) Also, I don’t have a disk holder on my diaper pail like some brands have; therefore, I just throw the dinosaur in the bottom of my pail and change it out every time I wash diapers. It works great for me!

Try these two cloth diaper friendly “recipes” out and let me know what you think!


Lesslie writes over at She’s the wife of a wonderful, handsome man, a stay-at-home Mom to the most perfect 1 year old boy in the world, a (former) nurse, a cook, a baker, a DIYer, a clean freak with OCD tendencies, a born and raised Texas girl, a secret-but-not-so-secret prepper, and most-importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. Life can get pretty hectic at her house: busy busy busy all of the time, but she tries to slow down, smell the wildflowers, and enjoy life as much as possible!


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