I found my ‘unicorn’ wash routine… with Unicorn Clean
By Karen Burkey, Contributor to the Cloth Diaper Podcast
**I received a gratuity of a free product as a thank you for featuring Unicorn Clean in this article.**
They say folks will search far and wide for the ‘unicorn’ solution to their problems; the one that seems too good to be true and almost impossible. With my cloth diaper journey, I did find that unicorn–in the form of Unicorn Clean products. It saved my cloth diapers and prevented me from completely giving up just 6 months in. It’s cheesy as all heck, but it’s true.
I started using cloth diapers with my firstborn after months of research during pregnancy. Like all parents starting this journey, I didn’t have much of a clue of what to do about how to wash them. What cycle settings? How much detergent? What temperature?
Seeking answers, Google led me where it leads many parents: straight to websites promising results by following their ‘approved’ wash routines and specific detergent amounts. I remember looking at a chart, seeing the detergent I wanted to use and thinking: ‘Wow, 2-2.5 capfuls per cycle seems like a LOT. But I guess they know better than I do…’
Fast forward to six months later. My son’s diapers reek to high heaven of ammonia AND also have a ‘barnyard’ poop smell coming out of the dryer. They are obviously not getting clean and I am devastated. My son is also getting awful red rashes almost every time he wears the diapers. I plead for advice in some of the cloth diaper Facebook groups I’m in and enough moms steer me in the direction of just washing them all in hot water with no detergent until the smell is gone.
After about EIGHT of those cycles, a Mighty Bubbles laundry treatment and a short bleach soak, I feel like maybe I took care of the smell. But I never wanted to go back to that other detergent and method, as it clearly didn’t work for my routine.
I find out two things. One: my city’s water is treated with softeners so the water ‘hardness’ is basically 0 ppm. The ‘recommended’ 2.5 capfuls of detergent were never going to wash out; it was astronomically too much detergent! Two: I learned from the All About Cloth Diapers Facebook group about a laundry detergent called Unicorn. I saw multiple comment threads talking about how good it was. Longing for something natural and effective, I take the plunge and buy a starter set. With a bit of trial and error, I find the lowest amount of detergent I can get away with for the diapers to get clean.
Fast forward two years later, I’ve never had to question the cleanliness of my diapers ever again. I’m blown away by how powerful yet gentle Unicorn Clean detergents are. The company originally started when a family running an alpaca farm wanted to find a better way to wash and ‘scour’ all the wool sheared from the animals. Melanie and her family joined together and created Unicorn Clean.
My three favorites I use to this day are: Beyond Clean (unscented, fragrance free), Power Scour (original ‘Classic’ formula, with a hint of lavender) and Beyond Soft (a natural fabric softener safe for use on cloth diapers). My favorite part about these is there are NO bleach additives, phosphates, enzymes, brighteners, petroleum, stripping agents or dyes. It’s a special blend of anionic and non-ionic surfactants, which Unicorn says help break down soils more effectively. It is low-sudsing and formulated to work in hard or soft water.
I also love that they are highly-concentrated formulas, which last me a LONG time. While they have a higher price range than most conventional detergents, these USA-made laundry detergents in the 1 gallon jugs can last me almost a whole YEAR of cloth diaper washing; about 2-3 times a week, for either 1 or 2 babies. It’s safe and effective on your other laundry too. I also use it for messy mealtime wash cloths, towels, bedding, swimsuits and cleaning rags.
While I have found great success with this brand, it all depends on your washing machine, water hardness and other factors. Do not be afraid to try out different things and stick with what works for you! I found out after a year or so that I could even get away with a shorter warm cycle than my machine’s ‘heavy duty’ one and just a warm or cold temperature on the second cycle. This mattered a lot to me in terms of saving energy and time.
This is my ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ wash routine featuring Unicorn on our home’s very basic HE top loader:
- Prewash: ‘Casual’ cycle, warm temperature, high rinse. One-half ounce of Unicorn Power Scour (roughly 1 tbsp or 1 pump from their gallon jugs) and a scoop of Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus. Add 1 ounce of Unicorn Beyond Soft fabric softener every few weeks or so to make everything buttery soft.
**If you want a fully fragrance free experience, stick with Beyond Clean the whole way.
- Main Wash: Add in baby/toddler clothes, burp cloths, receiving blankets, etc. “Casual” cycle, warm or cold, high rinse. One ounce of Unicorn Beyond Clean (roughly 2 tbsp or 2 pumps from their gallon jugs) with another Biokleen scoop.
- Rinse: Short rinse and spin cycle, warm or cold. (I found I did need this due to our city’s treated soft water. This is optional and often not necessary).
Melanie of Unicorn Clean has also teamed up with myself and Bailey of the Cloth Diaper Podcast to offer you an amazing giveaway! You have the chance to win a personalized trial pack of my three favorite products! Details on how to enter will be on the Cloth Diaper Podcast Instagram account. You could win this trial pack worth about ~$50 USD!
- Unicorn Power Scour, 16oz
- Unicorn Beyond Clean, 16oz
- Unicorn Beyond Soft, 16oz
I sincerely want you to know you can do whatever works for you! As long as you get clean diapers and a happy baby bum out of it, it shouldn’t matter how you do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. -Karen
Cloth Diaper Podcast is located in Northern BC, Canada on the traditional territories of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nations.
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About the Cloth Diaper Podcast
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a somewhat regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world.
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is not affiliated with any school of thought of diaper laundry but instead focus on the power of peer-to-peer story telling to empower you to make your own cloth diaper journey.
Cloth Diapering is not this or that, but rather many different experiences.