There is a lot of accumulated knowledge out in the online cloth diapering community regarding. One of the questions we get often is whether or not you should use Baking Soda to wash your cloth diapers.
Although it is important to always refer to the WAHM that sells or sews the diapers you purchase, you can rest in the fact that baking soda is neither caustic (like washing soda) or harmful for clothing or cloth diapers in general.
Why use baking soda in a cloth diaper wash?
Baking Soda, unlike washing soda, is only slightly alkaline with a pH around 8.1 (a pH of 7 being neutral). It will lift urine and poop off cloth diapers effectively and then, because it is so very water soluble, it will dissolve away in the wash water. For those concerned that baking soda will build up on your baby's cloth diapers, or possibly eat away at the diapers' fibers; this is not the case. Baking Soda will dissolve before the soft crystalline molecules can stratch or damage the surface of your diapers.
Baking Soda does not just cover up odors in cloth diapers, but it has the power to neutralize odors. Unpleasant odors come from either strong acids (like your baby's urine) or strong bases (for instance, fish oils found in many mainstream diaper rash ointments). Urine is highly acidic so it can remove wastes from the body. So basically, the Baking Soda serves to bring the acidic levels naturally present in our baby's urine into a neutral state. It does the same with basic odor molecules - neutralizing them within the cloth diaper fabric as well. This is why it is a choice additive to the diaper washing routine, whether you wash at home or you wash your cloth diapers in a laundry mat.
Please Note: Baking soda is an "additive" - baking soda does NOT serve as a detergent, but rather, a sort of booster.
What is pH?
pH is a measure of whether a particular substance is alkaline or acidic based. If a substance falls below 7.0 it is considered to be acidic. If a substance rises above 7.0, it is considered to be alkaline. Two examples are blood and urine. Blood is slighly alkaline (between 7.35 and 7.45) while urine is slightly acidic (with a pH of about 6.4). Water is neutral, with a pH of 7.0.