What is Tide Actilift, and Will it Damage My Cloth Diapers?

Tide Actilift and washing #clothdiapers - via @chgdiapers

Many families use Tide on their cloth diapers, and any time the formula is changed, they worry. All Tide has been “ultra” for the past few years, and it is simply a more concentrated formula. Then Actilift crystals appeared, and users started to wonder what they were, and whether they’d damage their diapers. I realize that cloth diaper detergent is a hot button issue, and some people feel strongly that you should never use mainstream detergents. This post is not for those people. If you do use Tide, this post is for you!

Tide with Actilift Crystals and #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers Tide with Actilift and #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

This information is straight from the horse’s mouth (P&G.) Tide “Acti-Lift™ Crystals” are blue speckles that are now in all powder detergents, except for Tide Free & Gentle. These speckles are made up of cleaning enzymes (to deep clean), a cleaning polymer (to break up and lift dry stains) and a whiteness booster (to brighten fabrics – this is not a bleach.) Actilift has always been in the liquid formula. Tide has verified that this is a new addition to the powder.

Tide Actilift and #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

So, will it damage your diapers? The power of suggestion is strong. Simply asking if you’ve noticed damage since Actilift was added may cause you to blame the detergent for things you may not have otherwise attributed to the detergent. For example, a couple of my 2 1/2 year old prefolds that have been washed every other day & used at night time, have a few small holes. I believe this is due to their age & use, but since I’ve been using Tide with Actilift, I could blame those holes on the new formulation.

Have you used Tide liquid successfully? Then you shouldn’t have issues with the new powder formulation. (The powder has additional softeners so it is a better choice than the liquid for hard water. It can also rinse out more easily since there are no gelling agents added to the powder.) If you’re already using Tide, I can assume that you don’t believe that enzymes or brighteners damage diapers.

If you are really worried about Actilift but don’t want to give up your Tide, consider trying the Free & gentle formulation.

Have you experienced issues with Tide’s Actilift crystals?

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Lynda Taylor
    January 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    I have allergies to many chemicals but have always been able to use Powder Tide original. I have had problems since actilift . Is there anyone out there with me.

  • Lynda Taylor
    January 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I am allergic to many chemicals but I have always been able to use powdered Tide original. I have been experiencing allergic reactions since the actilift has been used. I wonder if anyone else has this problem

  • April 10, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    […] user for 5 of my 5 1/2 years of cloth diapering and weathered the change to the Ultra formula and Tide with Actilift. So what made me break up with Tide? The recent scent change, which they denied to me but confirmed […]

  • Emily
    January 5, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I know this is an old conversation but I wanted to jump in! I moved this past summer from hard city water to softened well water. After month’s of trial and error and reading we figured out powdered works best in soft water and liquid in hard water. We tired tide original (no acti crystals) and haven’t had a single issue since. Until I opened a New box not realizing the change and we’ve been have stink problems. And now my microfiber and fleece pockets/inserts are slimy! 🙁

    No damage but def not useful for getting nice clean diapers anymore. Thanks a lot tide!

  • Jenny
    April 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    My son gets a bad rash from the new Tide formula, and now I”m having a hard time finding a new detergent that works as well as Tide did. Do other moms who are having this same problem, what detergent did you start using?

    • April 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

      I haven’t had any trouble with it, but check out this resource: http://detergent.realdiaperindustry.org/ You can search for detergents that contain just the ingredients you want, or exclude those which contain ingredients you don’t want. You might consider trying the Tide Free & Gentle formula.

  • January 15, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I hadn’t used Tide in a long time until mid-December when i had my mom pick up a amall box. I didn’t realize that the formula had changed at that time. Fast forward about 2 weeks and it hit me that the redness and light rash Finley had developed was from the Tide. The diapers also smelled bad when he peed. I moved onto Ecos and things are going well so far.

    • January 15, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      That stinks. I wonder if the Actilift works well in some water types and not others. I’d love to find out what people had in common if it didn’t work for them.

  • January 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve been using this tide formula for a few months without a problem.

    • Kelly S
      January 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Me too. Though I never used Tide without the actilift, so I’ve got no basis for comparison.

  • January 15, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I’ve heard that those who used Tide Original started having stink and other issues after Tide added ActiLift to their powder. Anecdotal, of course, but most of these moms didn’t realize this at first and only discovered the formula change after the problems started and they did some sleuthing. This seems to indicate that the ActiLift crystals really might not be cloth friendly.

    However, I’ve always used LIQUID Tide (2 years now) and never had any problems. Yet you just clued me in today that the ActiLift ingredient has always been in there. So what’s up with that?

    I guess I’m even more confused now! Why did adding ActiLift to the powdered formula start causing problems for many moms??

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Who knows! I couldn’t even venture to guess without knowing all the details about wash routine etc. 🙂 I’ve upped the amount I’m using a bit, but since my water tends to change a little bit depending on the season and our softener salt level, I didn’t think much of it. I wonder if the addition of the actilift crystals has weakened the formula a bit & now more is required? I’ve been using it since before the packaging was labeled Actilift but the crystals were added and have had no problems.

      • January 15, 2014 at 12:14 pm

        That could very well be what makes the difference. My water is average so maybe that’s why I never experienced any issues with the liquid formula, whereas homes with hard water might have done fine with the original powder, but not the ActiLift.

    • January 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      Hahaha, I think that might be me and Tara you are referring to! We both started having stink issues (and I got some damage in brand new flats that seemed unusually extreme) and it wasn’t until we compared notes that we realized it started happening with our recent boxes of detergent (which had the blue flakes but didn’t say anything on the label about Acti-lift, which was one of the reasons neither of us suspected the detergent as the culprit for a long time!) We put out a bunch of surveys and it seems like some people did start having issues with it, but not universally, so there’s probably a number of factors involved 😉 The Acti-lift ingredients SOUND like they should have made things better, but who knows! I’m glad you posted this though, because someone asked yesterday if Acti-lift was in the liquid formula or not, and I didn’t know. I’m glad I was able to refer her to your post for the answer! 🙂

      • January 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        OK you’re the first person who has actually had issues then that I personally know of. I kept hearing people talk about it & worrying about it, but none of them had ever said they experienced stink/damage, or personally knew someone who did. It was just one of those “heard it through the grapevine” type things. What brand/material was the flat?

        • January 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

          They were unbleached GMD cotton flats, and they were less than 6 months old so the company replaced them but saw the pictures and said, “Good heavens, we’ve never seen anything like that!” (Random holes in the fabric, seams ripping off and fraying, etc.) I’d been seeing wear in my prefolds and hemp inserts, and some stretched out elastics in my covers, but since those were all old I figured they’d just run their course (but the brand new flats shouldn’t have been having issues!) It still could have TOTALLY been coincidental, since there are always so many variables with wash routines, but we really didn’t know about the formula change until after all that happened. (I started complaining about the diaper damage, Tara started complaining about stink, we both started discussing our wash routines, and then one of us finally mentioned, “Does your Tide have blue flecks in it? I don’t remember it having that in the past!” A while later a reader said there’d been a formulation change and we did some research, otherwise we both probably would have thought, “Huh, I must not pay much attention to my detergent! I guess it’s always been blue!) 🙂 There are definitely other people I’ve talked to who’ve been looking for a new detergent because of issues after the formula change, and All About Cloth Diapers said they had issues with it but there are so many people that didn’t notice a change that it just seems prudent to not worry about it unless you see specific issues crop up 🙂

        • January 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

          Actually, I’ve seen a number of posts on the ActiLift issue since summer of 2013 all over the web (Baby Center and other diapering forums I’m a member of), although your particular post was very helpful, Tara and Carolyn!

          • January 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

            Gotcha, I don’t have time to be active in cloth diaper groups outside of Facebook anymore so I haven’t seen those.

  • emily r
    January 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

    So the formula has changed now? Ugh… I hope it doesn’t do damage. I have been looking in every store I go in to find Original Tide. Now I know why I’m having no luck!!

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