Why you should be using a “clean-rinsing” laundry detergent

Why you should be using a “clean-rinsing” laundry detergent

There are so many things to consider when choosing a laundry detergent; fragrance-free or scented, liquid or powder, synthetic or biodegradable … 🤔

"Clean-Rinsing" isn't something most people know to look for, but they should! (especially if you’re cloth diapering).

When we were formulating our  Washing Powder, ensuring that it was 100% clean-rinsing was one one of our top priorities.

In this blog post we’ll explain what a clean-rinsing detergent is, why it’s important, and what clean-rinsing formulas do for your laundry. 

Let’s dive in!

What makes a detergent “Clean-Rinsing”?

Simply put: a clean-rinsing detergent is specially designed to wash out completely, meaning none of the ingredients in the detergent remain on your laundry after the final rinse. (This benefits all laundry, but is critical when washing cloth diapers. We’ll share more on this below!) A “clean rinsing” or “free rinsing” detergent will tackle the soil in your laundry, remove said soil from the fabric, and flush everything away, including all the ingredients in the formula. This leaves you with clean, residue-free fabric.

Are All Detergents Clean-Rinsing? 

Nope. In fact, most detergents you find on store shelves are loaded with ingredients whose very purpose is to remain on the fabric after the last rinse. These lingering molecules embed themselves in your fabric fibers to perform specific functions. For example:

  • Fragrance: Sweet smelling molecules that hang out on your fabric making it smell like fresh rain or lavender
  • Fabric Softeners: Molecules that give your clothing a greasy slick that mimics the feeling of softness
  • Optical Brighteners: Multi-faceted molecules that reflect light making your fabric appear brighter.

The 3 main problems with these lingering molecules are:

  1. They build up and their weight eventually weakens the fabric fibers causing breakage and holes.
  2. Over time the build up leaves your clothes looking dingy, dull and heavy.
  3. The molecules left behind by non- clean rinsing detergents give the soil in your dirty laundry something to bind to making it harder to wash away.

Why is a Clean-Rinsing formula the best detergent for washing cloth diapers?

One of the best things you can do for your cloth diapers is to wash them in a clean-rinsing detergent. Why? Because when the ingredients we mentioned above linger on your diapers it gives the ammonia and bacteria (from the pee and poo) something to latch on to, making it harder and harder to wash out in future washes. So you might not realize it's an issue at first, but after a few weeks you will find your diapers appear dingy, have a pungent barnyard* smell, and may even cause diaper rash.

*If you’re dealing with a barnyard smell in your cloth diapers (aka ammonia build up), be sure to check out this post: Banishing the Barnyard Smell: How to Tackle Ammonia Build-Up in Cloth Diapers

When you use a clean-rinsing detergent to wash your cloth diapers, there is nothing for the ammonia and bacteria to hang onto making it much easier to wash away.

How do Clean-Rinsing detergents benefit the rest of your household laundry?

While the effects might not be as obvious with your regular laundry as they are with cloth diapers, the issue is still brewing. Have you ever found that your bathroom towels smell fresh coming out of the dryer but then as soon as you use them they have a dank musty smell almost immediately? Or your gym clothes seem clean but then after a short wear the sweat smell is noxious? You can thank non-clean-rinsing detergents and their lingering molecules for that!

Those ingredients that are designed to stay behind on the fabric are giving the sweat and stink something to bind to which, just like with cloth diapers, makes it harder and harder to wash away eventually leading to buildup and laundry that is not getting fully clean. Switching to a clean-rinsing detergent like our Washing Powder ensures that after the final rinse cycle, nothing remains on your fabric to cause trouble! Giving you fresher, cleaner laundry with every wash.

More Benefits of Clean-Rinsing Detergents

  1. Safer for Sensitive Skin: Clean-rinsing detergents don’t leave anything behind on your fabrics after the final rinse making them the best detergent for cloth diapers, newborn babies, individuals with allergies, and anyone with skin sensitivities.
  2. Prolongs Fabric Life: By not causing buildup, clean-rinsing detergents help maintain the integrity of your fabrics. When fabric fibers (especially natural fabrics like cotton) get weighed down with those lingering fragrance, softener and optical brightener molecules from non clean-rinsing detergent formulas, it weakens them, oftentimes causing them to break and tear prematurely.
  3. Reduces Odors: Clean rinsing formulas don’t leave behind molecules for the stink on your dirty laundry to bind to which means the wash cycle is more effective at getting your laundry clean resulting in fresher smelling laundry. Clean-rinsing detergents are the best for your dirtiest, stinkiest laundry (like gym clothes, towels, bedding, and, of course, cloth diapers).

Our Favorite Clean Rinsing Detergent

Have you guessed it? Our Washing Powder of course! If you’ve been thinking about switching to an eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, clean-rinsing detergent – look no further. Our patented* formula is mineral-based and free of SLS, SLES, LAS, phthalates, phosphates, fragrance, dye, and fabric softeners. In other words, we steer clear of all the synthetic toxic junk that we know you want to avoid for the sake of your skin and our planet.

*Bonus: it’s also the only detergent that is patented to specifically tackle the complex soil in dirty diapers (some of the dirtiest laundry you’ll likely ever wash!). Our clean-rinsing formula is a unique blend of ionic and anionic surfactants, anti-redeposition agents, chelating agents (aka water softeners), and alkalis to power clean diapers without causing harm to the environment or being too harsh for delicate baby skin. (and if it can do all that for the poopy diapers, just think of what it can do for the rest of your household laundry!) 

You can read more about the science behind our formula here on our blog: What Kind of Detergent Do You Need to Wash Cloth Diapers

Key Takeaway

Elevating your laundry routine can be as simple as choosing a clean-rinsing detergent. By eliminating residue buildup, free-rinsing detergents help maintain the integrity of your fabrics, keep odors at bay, and are gentler on sensitive skin. Whether you're washing cloth diapers or your favorite yoga pants, making the switch to a clean-rinsing detergent is a game-changer. And for best results, give our Washing Powder a whirl and experience the magic of truly clean laundry. Your clothes, your skin, and even the planet will thank you!




Our co-founders host a free, virtual, Cloth Diapering 101 class every month to help cloth-curious parents get all the tools and information they need! You’ll learn:

  • How to use the Esembly diapers and accessories 
  • How to easily and effectively launder your Esembly diapers
  • The impact that your choice has on the planet, your wallet, and your day-to-day. 

You'll leave with the confidence to Live Less Disposably and a 20% discount code to use on your first order. 🥳 We hope to see you there!

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