January 17, 2007

Method Or Madness?

method_baby_detergent.jpgNow that I think about it, right before the kid was born, someone mentioned the name--Dreft--of the only laundry detergent for newborns in the world. Naturally, we rushed to buy it/some. It was fine, I guess; the kid wasn't one to have very sensitive skin, so whether it did an incredible job or not, we never knew.

I just saw that Method makes baby-friendly detergent, too. Method is one of those paradigm-shifting companies who doesn't sell soap; they sell a wholesome clean lifestyle solution. Or something. My first encounter with Method was buying hand soap for cold season; their pump bottles looked promising, but without any brochure or Brand Experience on the drugstore shelf, they just looked over-designed. [The packaging is by Karim Rashid; guess I called that one.]

Anyway, has anyone tried it? Oddly enough, their tagline, "Tough on stains. Gentle on baby." is the same as Seventh Generation's baby detergent. If it matters, both are cheaper than Dreft on a per-load basis, too. At least if you buy laundry soap on the Internet.

Method Triple Concentrated Detergent - Baby, $11.29 drugstore.com via theapt.com]
Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, Baby $8.39 [drugstore.com]

02/07 update: Amazon is offering $10 instant rebate on a $49 order of Method Products through 2/28. See the details and products here.


We use it, and it works better, in our experience, than 7G, Ecover, and Tide. I also like their handsoap. It doesn't dry out my hands and it doesn't smell too strong. Plus it doesn't have cartoon pandas, tropical fish, or flowers on the label.

We went with perfume- and dye-free detergent from Sears (the store, not the Dr.), and we've had no problems. Of course, your mileage may vary. Big advantages are the cost and that it comes in bulk. As Baby Bargains points out, Dreft is still detergent, which is what's most likely to cause a reaction. It's just a well branded and marketed detergent, which is what Method 3X concentrate appears to be. (A concise explanation of the difference between soap and detergent: http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/home/118).

They finally launched in Canada in a big way (I'd actually been considering doing a run to Target in Bellingham back when I first read about their cool upside down dish soap bottle...) and I've tried their handsoap. For a company that's supposed to be some kind of revolution in the soap field, that stuff smells exactly like every other high-concept perfume-y handsoap out there. Green tea and aloe? Smells like Palmolive to me...

(Best soap ever is the stuff we get at the Japanese 100yen, er, $2CAD store here -- mildly acidic with almost no scent whatsoever... Daiso rocks!)

Still, their baby laundry detergent would be worth a look, as long as it doesn't smell stronger than 7th Generation...

We've been a big fan of the Trader Joe's Bio cleaner. We mix that with Oxyclean for a nice washing machine cocktail. Both are quite cheap too.

Actually, the Oxyclean was NECESSARY to kill off all the bacteria caused by tiny baby spitup, and we just never got out of the habit.

Disclaimer: My wife works for Method.

That said, I think their products are great. They work hard to make cleaning products that are easy on your skin and easy on the environment. They're also nice to look at.

Hint: If you sign up on their site to be an advocate, they might send you some free product to try out.

They also have a blog.

They're a small company (~50 people). If you have feedback, tell them! They really listen. I've seen lots of letters from customers on the wall of their office.

If it were up to me, we would be using the standard Tide with our baby's stuff, but my wife is insisting on the baby-specific stuff. At least I have talked her into using the Target-brand Dreft knockoff, which saves about $3.00 a bottle.

We've been using the Method perfume/scent-free detergent since our daughter was born 9 mths ago and it has never irritated her skin. I can only imagine the baby-friendly stuff would work as well if not better on kids with more sensitive skin (for what it's worth, our daughter's skin doesn't seem too sensitive).

Another big Method plus is that their quick wipes for cleaning up in the kitchen, bath etc are one of the only wipes on the market that are biodegradable. There was an article awhile back about the enormous volumes of landfill space given over to disposable wipes that are made of various non-biodegradable blends so that's why we originally switched to Method.

Dreft and all the baby-specific detergents are just ripoffs. They are dye-free and fragrance-free. But so is the stuff we use, Purex Free & Clear. We get it at Target, it's $2.99 for a giant bottle. There's nothing offensive about it and it gets everything perfectly clean.

We do, however, use the Dreft stain spray (or regular Shout) for the nasty stuff that's been sitting in the diaper bag or under the front seat for a week or two. I don't know if it really helps, but it makes me feel better.

I like the method dish soaps, but there are still too many chemicals for me to use some of their other stuff. I prefer 7th Gen, personally.

hi there.

we welcomes little matilda lior to the world two weeks ago and have been using dreft on her clothes in a separate wash load at the landromat.

yes, we're new parents so from what i hear by the second or third you're washing their clothes in with your gym clothes.

anyway, we found the big 300oz sized dreft at target for $19.99.

thought i may pass that on.


You buy soap over the internet?

[exactly. reminds me of a good Salon.com story (relax, it was from 2000) about sardonic domain names popping up in San Francisco graffiti. Things like ButIDon'tNeedMyToothpasteDelivered.com. -ed.]

We don't use baby specific detergent. Everything in our house is washed in Charlie's, which is great for poop, puke, and other unpleasantries. Plus, one tiny bag does 80 loads, so I don't have to haul around, or find space for, a huge bottle.

We have twin girls due any day now.... I've tested out a ton of this stuff over the past few months. I am a Method fan, just because of the clean look of their packaging. But I am not a fan of the baby detergent. I can't stand fragrances, and the Method "for baby" is NOT FRAGRANCE FREE!

I've used Method for a long time. I love the pink grapefruit multi surface spray. I liked the detergent, but it was too messy. I emailed Method and told them the issues I had with it (and the fab softener) and they wrote a great reply back AND sent me coupons. Great customer service. I keep meaning to go and buy their new fab softener sheets which you add their softener to, rather than being gummy like the bounce ones...

I think there's Method Non-Scented and Method Baby. Different products. We used Non-Scented. I like the results.

We use All Free&Clear, which was recommended at the Boot Camp for New Dads class I went to. Way cheaper than Dreft, which my mom reflexively bought gallons and gallons of. We are washing everybody's clothes with it and are having no problems. Depending on the cost though, I'd be willing to experiment.

The Method leather wipes are also great for keeping barf, food, and dirt in the backseat of the car under control.


I used to make laundry detergent for a large consumer products company. Basically, you get what you pay for. The more you pay for a detergent, the higher concentration of cleaning agents (surfactants are the main cleaner) are in that detergent. Some detergents have enzymes which work better with certain stains. Tide is expensive because it works. If you get a lot of stains on your clothing, pay more. If you are just doing worn clothes, buy a mid-tier detergent. Or, save the heavy duty stuff for the heavy duty stained clothes. Don't be confused by baby detergents being fragrance and color free. Many are dyed and fragranced. Detergents that are usually called free and clear have neither. They may have a slight odor, but it is usually just the surfactants smell which typically gets hidden by added fragrance. Don't sweat your detergent pick too much!

I received Method Baby as a gift, and at first was put off by the smell. I have severe ashtma and allergies, so I was very skeptical of how it smelled in the bottle. But before our little guy was born a year ago, I washed one load of stuff in it, and I've been hooked ever since! Remember that concentrated detergent will have a concentrated scent in the bottle. :) In the past year, washing his stuff only in Method baby, we've gone through just over three bottles (including extra for stain removal -- works well on breastfed baby diaper leaks!).

You can get a bottle at Target for 7.99, so it is not too expensive. I know that washing his stuff with ours is fine now, and I know that the Method unscented, or All free & Clear would be better if he had REALLY sensitive skin -- but I'm all about those stain-fighting enzymes, and I'm addicted to the smell!

Love the stuff!

OMG please don't harsh on Method hand soap! That is the one product in my house that actually makes me happy to use. I'm talking the FOAMY stuff though. It rocks. Eucalyptus scented. They have it at Fresh Direct. The kid loves it and it washes off easily. Dish soap is also great--grapefruit or cucumber smells nice, not icky.

[I'm just saying, there was no context at CVS, and to look at it on the shelf, the company could've just as easily been all style, no substance. -ed.]

I love the Method line, even their plug-in air fresheners are nice. (A must for a potty-training toddler/10 cat household!) My only complaint is the coloring in the hand soaps, I just don't see why they're necessary and the pomegranate, in particular, leaves weird red marks in the sink if it doesn't get rinsed out properly.

Isn't Dreft scented? I thought it had a sickly baby powder smell to it.

Free and Clear is MUCH cheaper from Costco. 11 bucks and a whole lotta more loads.

That mop on the Method home page looks sweet! I know what I'll be buying this Feb.

When we were expecting our first we did the whole "what is best for baby and where do we get it?" routine and laundry detergent became a real stumper. We assumed that Dreft was the proper choice but having an HE washer we needed to get our hands on Dreft HE which proved to be impossible. We called Proctor and Gamble to see if there was an alternative and were told by their customer service rep to just use Tide HE. But wouldn't that defeat the purpose of using a gentle detergent for the baby's clothes. "No," replied the P&G rep, "Dreft and Tide are the same formulation, just different boxes." We were astonished. In the end we opted for Allen's Natural Detergent and have never looked back. It cleans the worst stains (and we use cloth diapers), is incredibly thrifty and we get the good karma of using a genuinely natural and non-polluting product. I'm not shilling here, just sharing.

I have to second the trader joes rec--it is great and very cheap!

We've been using "Method for Baby" with our 7-week-old, and so far, no leprosy or anything. He has developed some baby acne but I doubt if it's related to the detergent...

I recently bought an all natural detergent that is about as natural as you can get-no packaging, no processing! The product in question is a bag of brown shells called Indian Soap Nuts. You put 4-5 shells in a cotton drawstring bag and place in the machine. They seem to clean okay, apart from the breastfed baby poo, but then nothing I have bought even touches that anyway! You also don't use softener with them-none.Clothes are clean but unfragranced which some may not like.
Re what Jake said about baby acne-it's really common at that age, don't worry it'll go.
Re the post about plug in air freshener-I'm not sure what your reseach has shown in the USA, nor am I able to pull up the ingredients in Methods air freshener, I just want to ask you all to be careful using things like this, some contain harmful chemicals and I have read research recently suggesting asthma is not only exacerbated by these chemicals, but possibly caused also. It also suggested increased rates of ear infection in kids, and no one needs those broken nights!
This is my first post here but I have been reading for a while-I love it, but I'm a mum not a dad. Dad has no interest in what we put kids in to transport them, other than a safety perspective of course

I am another advocate for Method. We started using their Free and Clear detergent when we were living in the US and having moved to Canada 18 months ago, we actually starting importing it when we flew home from trips back. We like it because it works as well as Tide (or maybe a little better) and it is 3x concentrated, so it uses 1/3 the packaging. It is now available in Canada (at Shoppers' Drug Mart/Pharmaprix) at the usual 20% Canadian markup, but we buy it here now. And we have found many of their other products to be very good. So here's another fan of the company - and our three-month old is surviving the detergent very well so far.

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