Saturday, July 18, 2009

Switching from a standard top-loader to a front-loading HE machine -- oy vey!

It's been two weeks, and I have been schooled in the art of washing cloth diapers in a high efficienty (HE) machine. First time I washed a load of diapers in our sparkly new HE machine, I was struck by a few things:
  1. It is totally gross to empty diapers out of a hard pail into a front-loading machine. Totally. Gross. We've used a hard pail around these parts for 8 years now, and although this is our last baby, and she will be out of diapers shortly, I am switching to Mother of Eden's hanging laundry pail. In fact, I think a change from all of our laundry baskets to fabric laundry bags is in order -- as *not* thrilled as I am about getting dirty diapers into the front-loader, I am even *less* thrilled about getting my husband's dirty underwear in there.
  2. The HE machine uses way, way, way, way (to the nth degree, really) less water. We encountered stink issues pretty much immediately. So how can you combat stink? I'm now using the advice I've doled out to HE users for years -- add a sopping wet bath towel to the load to make it heavier so you can trick your washing machine into using more water (this is what it's come to? Me vs. the washing machine? It's like Terminator over here, people!). I'm also doing an extra rise after I wash the diapers. Do I feel bad about using more water? Heck no! We adhere to "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down" in this household, the point being, we cut our water use other ways. I only use run the dishwasher when it's full, I take short showers, I bathe 3 of the 4 kids together, don't judge me!
  3. I really must be vigilant about taking the poop off Grace's diapers. We typically don't have to deal with this issue b/c before the summer, most of her poops went right into the toilet, but it's summer, she's eating more fruit, and her bum has a mind of it's own. Previously, I just took the bulk of the poop out of the diaper, my former machine (bless her heart) managed to get the rest of the poop of the diapers. *sniff* I miss my old washing machine! We had a mini-shower previously, DH took it off b/c he was worried about the kids having a water fight, specifically, the boy, I wouldn't put it past him either. Either DH reinstals the mini-shower, or he takes over poop duty. I strongly suspect he'll go with plan A.

I haven't changed the detergent I use, I'm still using Natureclean, though perhaps I need to actually measure it instead of eyeballing it.

I hope I love my new washing machine soon. I was so excited to get it, and stink issues really are not fun!

Does anyone out there care to share anymore tips? Anyone?


  1. I realized I was using waaaaay too much detergent in our HE with dipes, even though I was actually using less than was recommended! It has made a big difference. I use about 1.5 tbsp of Claudias Choice for a load of about 24 dipes. And add vinegar to the rinse cycle. And do another rinse.

    I also get rid of as much poop as possible. I turn the dipe inside out so the poop is facing out and swish in the toilet. It's gross, but I hold the dipe by the edges and my hands don't get dirty or wet.

    Wet bag to line the pail is an absolute must for transferring the dipes to the machine. I can't even imagine "handling" the dipes to put them in there. Yuck!!

  2. Be careful about putting your wetbag in the dryer. Mine got stuck between the edge of the drum and the dryer housing and actually stopped the drum and caused an error message. Luckily the motor was fine. I hang it to dry now.
    My front loader suffered a catastrophic failure due to the belt coming off during a load of cloth diapers. It resulted in a burnt out motor. Our new washer is being delivered next week. I got another front loader even though it's a lot more work to get my diapers clean. It has a soak cycle which my old one didn't. It also has a sanitize cycle which apparently uses more water and superheats it. I have great hopes.

  3. I love my front loader, I've had it since Violet was 2 months old. The diapers (and our clothes) come out way cleaner. Stains that I had long given up on went away!
    I use CountrySave, about 1-2 Tbs (I eyeball it - about 1/2 of the recommended amount for a small load and I wash about 24 diapers at a time), and run the "whitest whites" setting. I sometimes do a "rinse and spin" first on cold if they're really stinky (oh those soaked nighttime diapers stink!!).
    I've never had to add a towel, but once I forgot to check after the babysitter had her and put a diaper in including poop and had to handpick peas out of my washer for ages - awful!
    The BioSoft liners make a huge difference getting all the poop out, and I wash mine with the diapers. About half make it through the wash without getting into the door seal (I toss those ones - they stink still), and they actually are nicer after the dryer than the originals. I get about 3 uses out of them that way (only pee ones though - we don't save the brown ones!). Figured that out by accident.
    Eventually you'll get used to it, and you're going to love it!

  4. I have a HE front loader, but my fluffy mail hasn't arrived yet. I'm wondering too how much detergent to put in the washer. Thanks for the info!