Front Load Washing Machine and Cloth Diapers: Method 2
Nearly 3 years ago I published the post “bumGenius + LG Front Loading HE Washer = Success” sharing my method for washing cloth diapers in our new front loading washer (after not realizing how good I had it with our old top-loading washer). I used this method with continued success until April of 2017 when I began a slightly different method in hopes of reducing wash time and reduce how often I felt it necessary to do extra long “deep clean” washes.
Before I dive in, I want to share two notes:
- If you currently have a top-loading washer and are considering front-loading, my personal opinion is DON’T DO IT! We made the switch for all the money we’d save by saving water and there’s the added bonus of being able to store things on top of it, which we felt important give our small house. If you’re cloth diapering, you need two things to get them clean, water and agitation. Front loading washers uses the least amount of water possible (determined by clothing weight), and doesn’t have that center agitation column that you see in top-loading washers. Even if you’re not cloth diapering, I’ve been unimpressed with how front-loaders clean clothes (not as well) while also wearing them out faster (high spin perhaps?). That being said, we’re not going to go out and buy another washer at this time, so we’re making it work.
- In early 2017 we said goodbye to our matching LG dryer. It didn’t break, we just realized that like a dishwasher, dryers are a luxury, not a necessity. Sure that fact is often why people buy them but we felt that it was a wasteful and unnecessary luxury. For more on my thoughts on this, check out my post, “Three Major Appliances You Don’t Actually Need” Furthermore I like being able to air-out the diapers when they linedry outside in the warmer months.
Washing Cloth Diapers (bumGenius) in an energy efficient front load washer: Method #2
*I’ve been successfully and happily using this method for 11 months now using only bumGenius diapers.
I use a diaper-sprayer attached to the toilet to remove solids from diapers (think hand-held bidet..I couldn’t find my exact one, but here is an example from Amazon). I then put the diapers in a 5-gallon bucket until wash day. The 5-gallon bucket is half filled with water and 2-3 tablespoons of liquid “Dreft: Stage 2: Active Baby”. Helpful tip: I keep a 3 foot, 1inch PVC pipe as a hands-free way to push the diapers into the water. For my stock of about 20 diapers I use two 5-gallon buckets with lids.
Step 1: Filling the Washer
I wash diapers about every 4 days. On wash day I drain the water from the soaking buckets and then put all the diapers in the washer (throw-away gloves are nice to have here). I keep some crappy towels on the back of the washer and throw 1-2 of those in to add bulk to the washer. *Front-load washers work best when full.* How many you add really depends on how many diapers you are washing. Since the diapers are soaking wet, I don’t feel the need to also water-log the towels. Helpful tip: Drape one of the towels over the washer opening and floor to catch any drips as you transport wet diapers from bucket to washer.
I make my own cloth diaper detergent using this SUPER easy and inexpensive recipe by The Eco-Friendly Family. (Check out my post “Ways We Cut Costs and Save Money”)for more ideas!) You may be tempted, given that they are diapers, to max out the amount of soap you use. Don’t do it!! Too much soap means that the washer will be unable to rinse it all out, which leads to a red-bottomed baby later on. I put only a 1/2 tablespoon in the “Main Wash” compartment and only 1/2 tablespoon in the “Pre Wash” compartment. That’s it! In the past I would also fill the “Softener” basin to the max line (it holds 1/4 cup) with white vinegar and put a splash in the “Pre wash” also. I haven’t seen a noticeable difference with that like I did in the old wash routine, so now I skip it. If you feel like your diapers are extra smelly however, you might try that as a neutralizer.
Step 3: The Wash Settings
Main Dial: Set to “Cotton/Normal”
Wash Temp: “Hot”
Spin Speed: “Extra High”
Soil Level: “Heavy”
Extras: Select “Pre Wash” button and “Water Plus” button
Why these settings? “Hot” temp will not only dissolve the soap, but also help to clean. “Extra high” spin ensures that as much of the soil and dirty water is spun out the diapers as possible. “Heavy” soil level ensures maximum agitation time, which you need as much agitation as possible to “scrub” the soil out of the diapers. “Pre-wash” adds to wash time and gets that extra soap cycle in there. “Water plus” adds more water, which you need as much water as possible to rinse the the soap and soil from the diapers.
**I typically start my diapers just before I got to bed and let them run while we sleep as it takes a couple hours. So I do step 4 when I wake up in the morning.
Step 4: The Final Rinse
To rinse the diapers, I set the main dial to “Speed Wash”. ((My LG washer will not allow the “Water plus” and the “Extra Rinse” options to both be selected. So for the main wash I prioritize the extra water and do this extra rinse as a completely separate cycle.)) When “Speed Wash” is selected, the machine automatically pre-sets the water temp to “Hot” and the spin speed to “Extra High”. I bump the soil level to “Heavy” again. I do not select any extras or add any additional soap. This cycle takes about 26 minutes.
Step 5: Drying
I’ve switched from machine drying to line drying. When I used to machine dry I would remove all the shells (we use pocket diapers) and hang those. I would then set the dryer to “More Dry”. I prefer line drying. In the winter I hang them on a wall-mounted retractable rack (exactly like this one, except mine is probably from an antique shop haha). If I need extra space I’ll hang some above the washer and over the shower curtain rod. In the summer I love, love, love this umbrella clothes line.
Using this method for the past 11 months I haven’t felt the need yet to do a deep clean cycle or stripping. Granted my baby has been mainly breastfed for most of this time, which as I’m sure many of you know, is WAY easier to clean. But even as we’ve begun the beloved stage of messier, smellier poops, I have felt no need to change this method. Since we probably have another 2 years (Ugh!) ahead of us of cloth-diaper washing, I’ll add a follow up here as time goes on!
Did you try this method? Did it work for you? Add your experience and feedback in the comments below!
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.