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Which washer type is best for cloth diapers?

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Initial post: Nov 7, 2009 1:23:11 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 26, 2013 8:50:17 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 7, 2009 2:21:48 PM PST
Danielle V. says:
I like using a top loader for cloth diapers. More water makes cleaner diapers. Many have been successful using both types of washers but the top loaders are easier. You can also use a top loader to soak diapers overnight or whatever and that is not possible with a front loader. There are some nice websites out there that you can check out. diaperswappers dot com is a nice place because they have all types of info about cloth diapers there even if you are not looking to sell or buy diapers.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2009 2:31:26 PM PST
Hi, your concerns are not unfounded. My personal experience was, I too had an old top-load washer which had seen better days. I tried doing cloth diapers and they were not coming clean enough. I gave up until I received a nice Christmas present last year-a front loader and dryer stack combo. So back on the cloth! I found the old washer with the agitator in the middle was pretty hard on the diapers without effectively cleaning them. Now this is one case, and like I said my washer was on its way out. I do like the sanitary setting on the new washer for cleaning the cloth diapers, and since I pre-treat and rinse as needed with the poopy dipes as soon as possible, I find I need little to no detergent with that setting. I have not noticed any excessive wear, actually, they always come out looking just like brand-new!
I use kushies, and bumgenius all-in-ones as well as thirsties pockets, my personal fave.

Congratulations and good luck with whatever path you choose in all of your parenting choices. Do what you feel is best, don't let others discourage you especially when you have a "gut feeling". Mommy intuition is no joke! Have fun!

Posted on Nov 7, 2009 7:44:17 PM PST
We have been washing diapers for four years straight (four kids, including twins), and we started with an old top-load washer and after a year switched to a front-load high efficiency washer. We use all bumGenius 3.0 one-size diapers (, which I highly recommend!). Each type of washer has its advantages, but for us, the front-load has been vastly superior. The main advantage for the top-load was that we could dump the dirty diapers into the washer quickly and without touching them (yuck). With a front load, we have to push them in, because gravity doesn't work in our favor as it did with the top-load. The second advantage of a top-load is the ability to soak diapers, but we have found that the front-load cleans so much better than the top-load that we don't need to soak anything. The front-load cycles are LONG. We do our diapers on the "whitest whites" hot cycle with a second rinse, which is 84 minutes, and it seems to me that the longest cycle on our top-load was only about 25 minutes (I could be mis-remembering--it's been a long time!). Our diapers have lasted through multiple kids, and according to the people at Cotton Babies (the people who make bumGenius), it is not the washing but the drying that ruins diapers. Since the front-load washers spin out so much more water than the top-load can, it takes much less time to dry diapers that have been washed in a front-load than a top-load. Therefore, I would think that a front-load would be much easier on your diapers if you intend to use a dryer as well. One other note--we use disposable liners ( to catch the poop, so we just throw away the liner along with the poop, and if it has just been peed on, we wash and reuse the liner. This makes the yuck factor of cloth diapers much, much less, since we don't do any scraping, rinsing, or soaking of dirty diapers. Just pick up the poopy liner with a plastic bag, throw the dirty diaper in our diaper bin, and dump the whole bin into the wash every couple of days. Easy. Good luck with your baby and with cloth diapering!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2009 11:24:26 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 26, 2013 8:50:32 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 9, 2009 5:18:04 AM PST
If you feel the need to soak, which you really don't need to due to the efficiency of the front-loader, you can pre-soak in your diaper pail. Sterilite makes very nice inexpensive latching buckets that can be found at Wal-mart, Target, etc. There is also a soak cycle which I have used only a couple of times when I left the diapers go for 3 days. I have found I need to use 1/3- 1/4 the amount of detergent than is recommended with every type of load of laundry I do. I recently just tried Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds and am absolutely thrilled with the results.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2009 6:43:08 AM PST
Lani says:
My front load washer has a soak cycle.

Posted on Nov 9, 2009 7:59:42 PM PST
Ugh. I hate my front loader. I wanted it for all the green and great reasons that go with them, but dh and I wish we'd gone front loading. They say nothing gets stuck in the little front gaskets. Have "they" tried washing baby socks... And if you don't get all the poop off the diapers, you have to clean that out of the gasket as well. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's my water. But anytime I travel, my diapers are softer and cleaner than they are at home.
I do love the stain setting on my washer though - no going back to have it wash once more or rinse again.

Posted on Nov 9, 2009 9:02:51 PM PST
We've been cloth diapering for 22 months. 4 months in we got a new washer specifically with cloth diaper washing in mind. We ended up getting a top load high efficiency washer that is agitatorless. We feel like we got the best of both worlds as we can choose the exact washing procedure that is right for the type of laundry. We can soak all the muddy particulate off my husband's soccer clothes, the yuckiest of cloth diapers (never had a smell problem), to a HE gentle no spin cycle of baby clothes. Plus, 12+ acorns and 3 rocks I didn't think to look for in the pockets of my toddler's pants and it didn't miss a beat. Even the non-HE cycles have an automatic water sensor so it wastes a lot less water than a conventional top loader with the same benefits. I never knew I could actually like doing laundry, especially cloth diapers! Good luck!

Posted on Nov 10, 2009 10:33:10 AM PST
I'm writing on my husbands login.

I have been CD my daughter since birth. I'll have you know that the newborn stage is trial by fire....but it gets infinitely easier....or maybe it seems to after the first month. I use an energy efficient top loading washer. I have heard that the HE washers use too little water to wash the diapers effectively. Whichever way you go....Use maybe half the amount of detergent you would normally use in a full load. Cloth diapers tend to retain small amounts of detergent when you wash them. This causes your diapers to smell like amonia when baby pees. I strip my diapers every few weeks when I start smelling anything by running them through several very hot cycles with RLR (you can find that in the grocery store in little pods) added to the initial cycles. Make sure you wash them until you see NO suds forming during the aggitation cycle.

More important than the type of washer is knowing how to properly wash and care for them.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2009 5:23:50 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 26, 2013 8:50:43 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2009 3:48:14 PM PST
Hi, I used a front loader with my cloth nappies, I have always preferred them but I guess that's just personal opinon. I always found top loaders to be a little harsh on clothes and diapers. Front loaders seems to wash the diapers better too and use less water and they are gentler on your clothes. Top Loaders though you can put more clothes in at a time, which is good. If you have a front loader you can put things on top too and use it like a bench-top, a top loader of course you can't though as you open the lid! I used Real Nappies cloth diapers and they dry really quick. Plus you can machine dry them if you want to, I always put a towel in the dryer with my cloth diapers and this made them dry much quicker. Cotton diapers seems to dry the fastest of all of the diapers I have tried. Plus Real Nappies offer this great guarantee that if your diapers wear out before they have got through 2 kids they replace them for you, I haven't directly asked them if this counts for washing harshness but I checked the guarantee and it says they will replace if velcro or stitching fails so guess this must cover if they fail due to your washing machine! Anyway good luck!Real Nappies, Cloth Diapers, Birth To Potty Pack, Newborn to Toddler, for babies 6-40+ lb

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2009 9:10:30 PM PST
My best friend uses Amway SA8 soap and she adores it! She is very into cloth diapering. She has been doing since her son was born and he is 15 months old now. She has an impressive diaper stash of used diapers and diapers that she has made herself, and she uses nothing but the Amway SA8. I use cloth diapers too but I live in Japan and can't get any, but if you are interested in finding out exactly how she launders her diapers, reply to this post and I'll ask her. Otherwise, Happy diapering your little bugaboo!

Posted on Nov 19, 2009 9:09:21 PM PST
Me again,
Hey cloth diapering Moms, do you think it would be helpful to use rice vinegar on cloth diapers the way you would normal vinegar? I have a diaper situation that I think could be remedied by using a little vinegar, but I live in a place where I can only get rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Posted on Dec 6, 2009 10:16:37 AM PST
AGB says:
I own a diaper service so trust me when I say that your machine is much less important than your actual process (as someone stated above). The detergent is super important (absolutely no residue, and no perfumes or dyes) and plenty of rinses at the end. If you use vinegar in the final rinse you MUST use baking soda at the beginning of your cycles to balance out the pH of the diapers. Unbalanced pH can cause diaper rash. When whatever sort of washing machine you can afford or keep your old one. A sanitary cycle is nice, but if you're only washing your family's cloth diapers then fully sanitized diapers are NOT necessary and it only wastes water and electricity. Good luck and welcome to cloth diapering!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 5:34:46 PM PST
E. Lamb says:
Hi, we are looking into options too- old top loader isn't doing the trick for us. We use Bumgenius and liners too. Do you mind sharing which brand and model of front-loader you have? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 5:36:24 PM PST
E. Lamb says:
Do you mind sharing the brand and model you chose? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 5:38:53 PM PST
E. Lamb says:
Hi, we are looking into options too- old top loader isn't doing the trick for us. We use Bumgenius and liners too. Do you mind sharing which brand and model of front-loader you have? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2012 6:12:22 PM PST
Hi! We have the Kenmore HE2Plus ( Generally we have been quite happy with it, BUT we have learned the hard way that the diaper liners (and baby socks or other small items) slip down into the drain pipe when it is spinning out. Thus, we use one lingerie bag for our diaper liners and another for small items. Even still, every few months we get a flashing code on the display on the washer (F-21, I think), and we have to take off the front panel at the bottom, open the drain pipe (we put pans under it to catch the water), and clean out the gunk in the drain pipe filter. Once a sock got stuck way up in a pipe up near the detergent drawer, and we had to call for service. The guy showed me where the sock was, and he pulled it out with a long pliers--so we'll know for next time. We do leave the door ajar because we have heard that they can get musty if the door is closed between washes. Other than these issues, we have been happy with it--and with the dryer of the same series. We are actually not diapering anymore--after 6 1/2 years of continuous cloth diapering between one and three kids, we're finished! What a celebration! Best wishes to you.

Posted on Feb 18, 2012 6:14:35 PM PST
E. Lamb says:
Thank you! That was really helpful! :) I wonder if some kind of mesh netting could be fit over the drain? Great tips to know! Appreciate it!

Posted on Feb 20, 2012 6:15:02 AM PST
PghYinzer says:
We has a top loader when my oldest was a baby and I never had a problem getting my diapers clean no matter what soap I used. Granted I only did prefolds with him which might be less persnickety to wash than pockets, which I do now. We moved, and when my twins were babies I used prefolds and our new front loader did not seem to get them clean. I thought I was imagining it. I stopped CDing them when our drier went goofy (I hate line drying diapers) but got back into it later when I hit a sale on bum genius. And hold cow did those BGs STINK. I then learned there is a lot of people who hate their front loaders for diapers. You have to learn to work with it more so than with a top loader. I learned to do w complete wash cycle first with no soap to really get them rinsed out well (I only did one rinse/spin with a top loader). You can add more water - either toss in water, or add a wet towel to make the washer think it has more in it, OR buy a machine with an "add water" button. I will look for this in our next washer! Having enough water is crucial and this is where the front loaders fall short. I have also begun to use only tide as it seems to get the BGs cleanest and rinse the best. I tried the "earth happy" sorts of soaps reccomended and my dipes STUNK - so I googled my bum genius stink and found lots of moms swear by tide, which I have never bought before since it costs so much - but it worked. Regular scent, HE powder. I tried going back to Purex which is cheap and works for clothes but my dipes would stink when peed on. So. I have learned to co-exist with my front loader. Oh. I will say with a top loader any left over poo sort of disappears, but with a front loader is all sits in the gasket waiting for you to remove it, so it's more important to rinse well... Generally - I think the top loader gets them cleaner, but the front loader can work and I think it's gentler on the diapers so they may last longer, I don't know.

Posted on Feb 20, 2012 11:31:39 AM PST
Look into fisher and Paykel. They make an HE top loader that allows you to choose the water level. It's called the Ecosmart I believe, :) I plan to get one when we move.

Posted on Mar 3, 2012 1:29:19 AM PST
I live in Germany and have a small, ultra-conserving, front loading washing machine. It is slower than molasses. The shortest wash cycle is 41 minutes on a cold water setting. Typically, it takes two to three hours to wash a normal load. The water here is very hard too, so, there's that to contend with. Some of my other CD friends that live here have a top loader, and did not have a lot of success with keeping the stink out of their diapers, and quit CDing. After over a year of doing this, I have found great success in doing a long, hot rinse cycle with baking soda (1.5 hrs with the "rapid" button), followed by a long hot wash cycle with a scoop of CD friendly detergent, and a Downy Ball of vinegar (3+ hours), followed by a short rinse cycle (20 min). Then, I dry the inserts in the dryer and hang the diapers. Everything comes out smelling like nothing, which is good! I start the washing routine after I put the baby to bed at 7pm, and let the long, hot cycle go before I go to bed at 10pm. When I get up, I run the extra rinse cycle, then dry them as above.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 29, 2012 10:44:13 AM PDT
Easy Reader says:
please tell brand and model?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2012 5:31:35 AM PDT
G. Busher says:
Although I am past washing diapers I can speak to your question since I raised three children and only used cloth and also I have used both types of washing machines. I suggest going with the front loader for a few reasons. First, the environmental factor of using less water. Second, because there is no agitator the diapers don't get ruffed up so much and will last longer. As long as you use hot water and good detergent with either washer type, the diapers will come out nice and clean. On another note, if your current washer still works fine and you don't need the money, perhaps there is some less-well-off mother in your community who could really use a washing machine. Just a thought. Best wishes!
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Discussion in:  Baby forum
Participants:  22
Total posts:  30
Initial post:  Nov 7, 2009
Latest post:  Sep 2, 2013

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