bumGenius + LG Front Loading HE Washer = Success
When we decided to move and downsize I wasn’t about to be as drastic as ditching our washer or dryer. In fact, I saw moving as an opportunity to buy new ones! I decided to go from our simple, base model, water guzzling, top-loading washer, to a fancy pair of LG front-loading High Efficiency machines. Everything was great (they even sang a pleasant tune when done instead of that jarring BBUZZZZZZ) until I did my first wash of cloth diapers (all bumGenius). With the old top-loading machine I had an effective routine down: At “super size” water level I did one wash cold with a tbsp homemade detergent, one wash hot with a tbsp same detergent, and occasionally an extra rinse if I thought it needed it. At most this took about an hour. Drying them was obnoxious taking about 2 hours on medium but in the end I had clean scentless diapers!
Fast forward to my new machine which gives you a digital countdown of when the wash will be complete. Cold wash no soap, set to “Heavy soil”, hit start…time to completion:2hr 36min. Wait, what? 5-6 hours to wash one load of diapers!? No thanks. Thus began lots of trials and errors. Extra water, extra rinses, extra cycles, extra towels, extra detergent, less of everything, and on and on. Want to feel like a crappy parent? Give your kid horrendous diaper rash from too much ammonia or detergent buildup by failing to correctly wash their diapers. In my mass of researching a friend showed me FluffLoveUniversity.com and their article specifically about washing in HE machines. Everything they said made sense, they made some good points, and I was thrilled, until I noticed they don’t allow comments on the article. Which means no one was able to pitch in and say if this method actually worked for them or how they tweaked it to fit their needs. Skeptical I tried their routine: Speed wash cycle, then Normal cycle with hot water, detergent, and “heavy soil” setting. The results? Horrible diaper rash once again. Dismayed and ready to rip the machines out and declare cloth diapering and HE’s to be an impossible combo, I prevailed onward and FINALLY found a routine that worked.
Washing bumGenius Cloth Diapers in LG Front-Loading High Efficiency (HE) Machines
The Machines: LG Washer Model #WM3170CW and LG Dryer Model # DLE3170W
The Diapers: BumGenius pocket cloth diaper (click HERE to see my review of them and Grovia)
How Many: About 20-25 shells, with 20-25 thick inserts, 20-25 thin inserts, and 2-3 diaper bags.
Before the Machine
After every diaper change I take the soiled diaper to the bathroom, remove the inserts, and spray the shell and both inserts with a diaper sprayer. I do this regardless of whether there’s poop or pee on the diapers. Since I wash diapers every 3 days, I didn’t like the idea of the ammonia having all that time to soak in good to the fibers. Hosing them off not only removes some of the soil and stink, but also saturates the diapers (internet research will show you that adding water to the wash, or soaking towels is a common practice with HE front-loaders). Once soaked I store the diapers in a trash pail lined with diaper wet bags until wash day. The diaper sprayer I bought was a bidet (same thing, they just charge more if they call it a diaper sprayer), more specifically this one: Brondell PureSpa Bidet Sprayer / Diaper Sprayer Shattaf. Cost $30. Would I recommend it? No, it has this very annoying tendency to drip water even after you turn off the water to it and drain the line. Drives me mad.
Setting= Speed Wash
Detergent=Half TBSP of THIS homemade diaper detergent placed in the detergent drawer.
Water Temperature=Tap Cold
Spin Speed= High*
Add to wash=Two towels**
Total Time=25 minutes
*As FluffLoveUniversity points out, you want a high spin cycle to remove as much soil as possible.
**FluffLoveUniversity also says that HE machines and agitation work best when full. Which makes sense to me, so I add in two dirty bath towels that I needed to wash anyway and this takes my machine from about 1/3-1/2 full to about 3/4 full. I don’t pre-soak the towels or anything special, just throw them in as is!
Detergent=1 TBSP of the same homemade diaper detergent placed in the detergent drawer.
Extra Setting=Water Plus
Keep two towels in wash
Total Time= 2hr 36min
Total Time= 24 minutes
Dry Level=More Dry
Total Time=50 minutes (and that’s truely all it takes! amazing!)
So what do you think? Did this work for you? What did you do differently?
Update March 2018:
With baby #3 I decided to tweak this method starting with soaking the diapers in water and soap prior to wash day. You can read about this method here: “Front Load Washing Machine and Cloth Diapers: Method 2”
We also got rid of our dryer and switched to hang drying inside in the winter, and line drying outside in the summer. You can read more about that here: “Three Major Appliances You Don’t Actually Need”