I am finally posting my review of my favorite detergent in my Detergent Wars mini series!
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Biokleen products. Like many cloth diapering parents, I use their Bac-Out spray often for its magical enzymes. I also love the Biokleen liquid dish soap and use it as bubble bath and shampoo. I spent 10 months using and loving the Biokleen powdered laundry detergent (all temperature with light citrus scent) and after experimenting with other detergents, I am back to Biokleen.
A 10 pound box yields 100 loads according to the instructions, but I get closer to 120 loads. My old washer was smaller, so it was likely closer to 150 loads per box. Either way, I know I can get all 100 loads from it even with my huge Kenmore. With each 10 pound box running at $19.95 a box, it is a pretty good deal.
Biokleen powder detergent contains no phosphate, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum solvents, alcohol, butyl, glycol ether, metasilicate, brighteners, SLS, SLES, EDTA, or DEA.
Ingredients: Soda Ash, zeolites, sodium citrate, vegetable fiber chelators, sodium percarbonate, grapefruit seed and pulp extracts, orange peel extracts, natural corrosion inhibitors, surfactants from coconut and/or corn, low PH silicates, and sodium sulfate.
People can criticize the ingredients and cleaning power of any detergent. My criteria for a good detergent are that it be as natural as possible, while still working well and not breaking the bank. Biokleen fits the bill. With no SLS, heavy perfumes, dyes, or brighteners, Biokleen is as natural as I can find for only about $0.08 per load. Plus, it never aggravates the eczema in our family.
First off, I find the scoop that comes with the box to be too much detergent, so I use a smaller scoop for my own precise measuring. Overall, I use about 3-4 tablespoons of powder per diaper load in a super-capacity Kenmore top loader.
I have regular water, not very hard or soft and this remains adequate. I do not have personal experience with very hard water or an HE front loader, but I have heard this detergent works fine with both. In the case of very hard water, I might do the pre-rinse with a sprinkle of washing soda first. The grapefruit and orange peel extracts give the powder a light scent reminiscent of Smarties candies. The scent never lingers after rinsing. This detergent has been listed as questionable on some cloth diapering websites simply because some people have had issues with repelling. However, I believe those issues occurred with the liquid version, which is common with liquid detergents. Also, repelling is more common with very hard water, since a larger amount of detergent is needed and is therefore more difficult to rinse. I have never encountered repelling or build-up of any kind using the powder.
I add the detergent to the diapers while the drum is filling. (After a pre-rinse.) Biokleen powder dissolves quickly and is low sudsing.
I let it agitate for a couple minutes before stopping the machine for a soak. Even after agitating, there are still only a few suds.
The pre-rinse is a recent addition to my washing routine. Since I rinse each insert in the sink by hand before placing them in the wet bag, I was skipping a pre-rinse in the machine, but have decided to add it in the past few weeks to see if my inserts come out fresher.
After a soak of indeterminate length since it can be 30 minutes or over an hour if I forget, I restart the machine and let it run with one extra rinse at the end. I personally always do a soak at the beginning of my washing cycle. I find it gets the diapers cleaner and eliminates the need for extra cycles. Since Biokleen creates very few suds, it rinses fairly easily. The slight citrus scent is always gone and I never see any signs of detergent residue. It is one of the few detergents that always passes my insert sniff test both out of the washer and the dryer. You can buy the scent free version, which contains the same extracts, but in smaller amounts. I prefer the larger amounts of extract personally, especially since they always rinse clean anyway.
I generally prefer powder detergents since they rinse out more easily. This version of Biokleen also has chlorine free bleach powder already in the detergent. I know oxygen bleach powders can be controversial in the cloth diapering world, depending on the brand, but the Biokleen brand of oxi bleach powder lists its ingredients unlike many brands, so at least I can make that judgement call with more information.
Overall, this is my favorite detergent for all of our laundry. It works great at cleaning my cloth diapers and towels, but is cheap enough per load to use on all of our laundry. It is available at Amazon, the Biokleen Home site, and various retailers. My local co-op down the street started recently carrying the free and clear version for an OK price, so I am looking forward to purchasing it locally.
**I purchased this item myself and was not prompted or compensated by the product company in any way.