Washing diapers in a front loader? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 05-13-2014, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We used cloth diapers with our last baby for the first year or so, when DH (who is the SAH caretaker) got kind of burned out on some issues we had with leaking and switched to paper. We're going to try again with this baby, since we have the stuff, but since last baby we've gotten a new washing machine, a front loader. My research seems to indicate that there can be issues getting diapers clean and well-rinsed in a front loader. Has anyone else dealt with this and has been able to make it work?

 

Also, about the leak issue -- We use fuzzi bunz one size diapers (and are pretty unwilling to buy different ones at this point), but found that they leaked less when we used unbleached prefolds stuffed inside instead of the inserts they came with. This worked for quite a while, but when DD got to a certain size (maybe a year or a bit older?) we started having a lot of pee leaks. We used zero residue soap to wash. My only guess is maybe she was getting a bit large for them (chubby, chubby baby), and was squeezing out the liquid? I appreciate any thoughts on this.


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#2 of 21 Old 05-13-2014, 11:56 AM
 
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I used a front loading machine for a brief stint this winter. I thought it worked great! It was a pretty fancy machine, and even had a sanitize cycle option. I think the main issue with front loaders might be that they use less water...maybe you could do a pre-soak and an extra rinse?

As for the leaks...could be what you suggested, or maybe it's that DD is more active? I find certain diapers in my stash don't work as well when DS1 is really on the move. I love wool covers for that!

Hope that helps!
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#3 of 21 Old 05-14-2014, 08:27 AM
 
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Our front loader was the reason I stopped using cloth diapers for several years.  I didn't realize that there was any issue with CDs and front loaders, and I thought the issue was the water (we bought the FL when we moved).  Nothing I added to help with the water helped, so I stopped.  I happened to run across something on needing more water in a front loader, and looked into it; I'm now using CDs almost exclusively (when someone babysits, I use disposables).

 

The problem is how much less water they use.  The machine weighs the load, then adds the water accordingly, but CDs are so absorbent, they just soak up the wash water and there is not enough left to wash the diapers properly.  You could soak your diapers beforehand, or add a bucket of water before you turn on the machine.  I run a cold rinse + spin cycle, but select "no spin" for spin speed.  This leaves the diapers wet and heavy before the machine weighs the load when I start the actual wash.

 

You'll likely need to experiment with different combos of cycles and settings to see what works for you and your machine.  I'm still kind of in that process.  I'm washing my diapers today, and with the initial rinse and running two heavy-duty cycles, it's a total of almost 3 hours of washing (plus the time it takes me to realize one cycle is done and go start the next, lol).  I still sometimes get a barn-y smell in the house when I'm drying the diapers, but that's usually if I've gone three days between washing, instead of two.


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#4 of 21 Old 05-14-2014, 12:41 PM
 
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We do a prewash rinse, then a heavy wash cycle with our soap, then a full cycle without any soap just to get the extra rinsing.  It works *ok*.  With my son we'd get stinky diapers eventually and we'd have to use RLR or just do extra rinses.  Interestingly, I haven't noticed it nearly as much with my daughter - perhaps this time around we're using more natural materials, they seem to stink less.  If we have a larger-than-normal load, we might do an extra rinse on top of that if we have time.  Some people use vinegar, I don't seem to notice a difference between when we use it and when we don't.

 

We use prefolds with our FuzziBunz one size also, haven't run across the leak issue yet.  I do remember with my son though that different diapers would work better at different stages.  


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#5 of 21 Old 05-14-2014, 05:12 PM
 
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I bought a FLer with a "water plus" button for my CDs.  You can also do delicate, which tends to add water.  Or, just do multiple shorter cycles.

 

Diapers leak for a variety of reasons.  Residue on the micro fleece inner of the FuzziBunz is a likely culprit, and can come from other laundry products used on other loads or rash creams.

 

Sometimes older babies pee so quick that it runs out an ill-fitting micro fleece diaper instead of soaking through it.  

 

Finally, FB had a lot of quality control issues for a long time, and even having had 10 years CD experience and owning a CD store and knowing a lot about CDs, mine leaked.  I think for awhile they had a manufacturing process that allowed the PUL coating to redeposit onto the fleece over time.  That's all I could figure out as a reason, though I have no hard proof.  I used them exclusively on #1 and #2, but eventually grew to hate them because of the constant problems I and my customers had.

 

You will rarely have leaks with cotton diapers.  If you don't want to spend any more money, start laying the PFs on top of the fleece and basically just using the FB as covers.


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#6 of 21 Old 05-14-2014, 05:15 PM
 
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I've only ever used a front loader with my prefolds. We do a cold wash, followed by a hot wash (both with soap), followed by an extra rinse cycle. I don't have any problems, but then again, I don't have anything to compare to. Also, to make them not end up stained and gross looking, we have a process that is completely separate from the wash cycles. We use a diaper sprayer to get the poop off (unless the poop is so solid that you can just push it off with some toilet paper, which is nice). During the exclusively breastfed period, we leave them in the sun for like 10 minutes once they've been rinsed. (Seriously, this works like magic.) Unfortunately, it doesn't work as well once solids are introduced. In that case, if necessary, I use a little Oxiclean mixed with water and pour it on stains and let them sit overnight.

 

This works for us, but I should also point out that I've sort of accepted that my diapers are not going to last forever and don't focus anymore on getting them to look pristine.


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#7 of 21 Old 05-14-2014, 06:13 PM
 
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We have an HE front loader and we've never had any problems (I also don't have anything to compare to, but I never noticed any problems). We do a rinse cycle, then a heavy duty wash cycle with an extra rinse at the end. Every now and then I would strip with vinegar, but really only every now and then.
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#8 of 21 Old 05-15-2014, 05:22 PM
 
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Our top loader died this past summer and we decided to get a front loader. It was a rough couple of weeks before I finally figured out how to wash diapers in it. What I found to work best was to separate the inserts and outsides when washing them. I also discovered that, on our washer, the allergen setting used MORE water than the other settings. My routine became this. I would start with a : Rinse, Drain, Spin setting to get the yucks out first. Then the allergen setting with extra rinse and prewash settings selected. Hope this helps. We have a GE frontloader.
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#9 of 21 Old 05-17-2014, 02:42 PM
 
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It depends on the model washer you have. I couldn't get flats clean enough with the brand I used because it was so stingy on the water. It didn't have options for extra rinse or extra water. It did have a sanitize option, but that just super heated the water without rinsing anything out. If I manually added water, a sensor would trip and drain the tub if it felt there was too much water. That particular model wouldn't get my kids' regular clothes clean enough for me so there was no hope for diapers. I gave up on it and switched to disposables.

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#10 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 10:31 AM
 
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I add a wet towel to each diaper load to trick the machine into thinking it's a heavier load. I also called the manufacturer to find out which setting uses the most water. When I do get a case of the stinkies, I run some bleach with them along with some extra rinses. I tried to avoid using bleach for some time, but once I tried it realized just how dirty my diapers really were and it seemed to take care of the problem.

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#11 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 10:33 AM
 
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Also, my inserts/flats made with natural fibers are much less likely to get stinky than my microfibers!

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#12 of 21 Old 05-18-2014, 10:37 AM
 
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Sorry to keep adding to this thread, but I also wanted to mention that I resisted using Tide for a long time, but now it is my go-to diaper detergent. I tried a number of other more natural detergents and none of them got my diapers clean. They would seem clean for a number of washes but then whamo the stinkies and rashes would start! I know others really like some of the natural detergents, but they did not work with my HE machine, even though I REALLY wanted them to!

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#13 of 21 Old 05-19-2014, 12:11 PM
 
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I have my third baby in cloth diapers, but this is the first time we have a front loader, and it's been a pain. I've found rinsing all diapers (pee and poop) before they go into the diaper pail help. I do a wash cycle just with vinegar and then I do a sanitize cycle. I also add a wet towel to trick the machine into thinking I have a heavier load, and I try to was less than 20 diapers at a time. It still doesn't work as well as a top loader. I have started lobbying to reinstall the old top loader just for diapers, but so far I can't convince my husband...


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#14 of 21 Old 05-20-2014, 11:40 AM
 
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I agree that it depends on the model you have. I used a regular top loader for my DD but now have a GE Profile HE Front Loader. While it does clean the diapers, I do typically use a pre-rinse AND an Extra Rinse cycle, which seems wasteful but gets the job done.


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#15 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 01:59 AM
 
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I have only ever used an HE front-loader for clothe diapers, now on our third baby. Fourth machine, though! Ha! (Due to one break down and multiple moves.)

Only one of those machines was the kind that weighed the load (the one we used while living in the US - our washers in the UK and Germany didn't/don't work that way because we have the cheapie versions!). Load-weighing or not, I always ran a prewash before the main wash, so the diapers are good and wet already when the main wash cycle water is added.

Our main problems with diaper washing have always been with hard water, nothing caused by the HE machines.

My best guesses for leaky FB are soap residue on the fleece and not enough stuffers. With our first two, we would have leaks overnight if the FB wasn't stuffed with three layers, and those three layers had to be different materials, so a prefold, a microfiber, and a hemp insert.

Good luck!!!

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#16 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for all the feedback! I think we'll give it a go, since we have a bunch of diapers. I'll strip them all first (in case it's a residue issue), and see what the washer does with them, and then trouble shoot as we can. My washer does not have a manual water level selector that I can see, so we'll see how it goes. We may switch to prefolds and use the one size dipes as covers, or buy larger covers if we end up with another chubby baby like DD. The prefolds did fine when they weren't inside the pocket diapers.

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#17 of 21 Old 05-21-2014, 09:35 PM
 
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Glad I read this, I never realized my washer may be contributing to the stinky after one pee diapers!  I wash cold, heavy cycle, then hot, heavy cycle both with soap, and both extra rinse.  I am going to try some of your suggestions, thanks moms!


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#18 of 21 Old 05-22-2014, 07:10 AM
 
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I found that my diapers (and clothes) were much cleaner in the front loader when I cut back on the amount of detergent.
Withy current washer I use a scant teaspoon. Any more and diapers feel crunchy and smell.
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#19 of 21 Old 05-30-2014, 04:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brisen View Post
I run a cold rinse + spin cycle, but select "no spin" for spin speed.  This leaves the diapers wet and heavy before the machine weighs the load when I start the actual wash.
Great idea! I always do the rinse/spin prior to washing but hadn't thought of using the no spin option. I miss my old top loader for dipes. In fact, we're going to my mom's for the weekend, and I brought all of our extra small diapers with so I can strip them in her 15-year-old top load washer. That thing seriously tosses them around.

For those who use Tide, what kind? Just the regular, original stuff? I think I'm having detergent issues too.
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#20 of 21 Old 06-02-2014, 10:04 AM
 
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I use a front loader. I do I a pre-wash and I do have a setting for more water which I use sometimes. No problems. I use Rockin Green detergent because we have hard water.
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#21 of 21 Old 06-02-2014, 02:37 PM
 
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We didn't have problems with our frontloader (Whirlpool Duet). We used the cheapest cloth prefolds and covers. We washed once then run a second wash with no soap as a second rinse because we had skin-problem prone babies. The idea of throwing a wet towel in to trick the machine is a great one, if you need it. We never did. Wet diapers I guess were heavy enough all by themselves.
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