Washing soda, chemically speaking, is Na2CO3: sodium carbonate. It’s a relative of baking soda: sodium bicarbonate, but you don’t want to confuse the two as they are not at all interchangeable!
Sodium carbonate, due to it’s high alkalinity, is grand at removing stains and has the excellent effect of softening hard water (something those of us living in the back country with our own delicious wells appreciate).
Borax is a naturally occurring compound originally discovered in the deserts of Tibet then later in the United States. Nearly all of the borax/borates on the planet are mined in the US.
Borax, like washing soda, also has a water softening effect. It cleans and whitens by the conversion of water molecules into hydrogen peroxide. The hotter the water temperature, the more water molecules convert increasing its effectiveness.
Additionally, borax is a great deodorizer – a necessary aspect in the cleaning of diapers!
A tablespoon of each in a small – medium load of cloth diapers is all that’s required!
If at any time irritation occurs, evaluate the rinse portion of the laundry cycle. All washing machines vary greatly in their cycle characteristics. Rinsing is especially important when washing diapers as traces of additives or detergent can cause irritations and build up. If necessary, switch the machine to a larger load during the rinse portion to ensure diapers are thoroughly rinsed out.
Together, washing soda and borax perform amazingly at cleaning cloth diapers. It’s a simple, cheap and effective alternative to detergent, one that will never require you to strip a diaper. And that’s a pretty attractive set of reasons.