Cloth Diapers and the Washing Machine

You’re using cloth diapers or planning on using them and you’re in the market for a new washer. Top loader or front loader, sanitize or steam cycle, the options are unlimited or so it seems.

We recently found ourselves in the market for a new washing machine. We’ve had a front loader for the last five years, but it was starting to have some problems and we decided that it was time to replace it. Since we’ve been cloth diapering for a while now, I had a list of features I wanted in a washer but that also met our budget. I must mention here that in every appliance store we went in to and I relayed to the salesperson what I was looking for, they looked at me like I had two heads. Apparently they don’t get customers very often that know EXACTLY which features they want. For those of you thinking about getting a new washer, I’ve put together a list of some of the features that are helpful to have if you cloth diaper.

  • adjustable water level: You always want to wash your diapers on the maximum water level available. This will help you clean your diapers more thoroughly and efficiently because you don’t have to run extra cycles. Some of the new front loaders do have this option, but this is only available in the Washing cloth diapers in a top loader washing machinehigher end models, which was out of our budget. What you can do is add extra water through the laundry soap dispenser to manually increase the water level.
  • pre-soak: the ability to do a pre-soak is really handy. You can do your own pre-soak if you have the ability to adjust your water level and then pause the washer. But if you can get a washer with a pre-soak cycle, you don’t have to remember to go back and turn the washer back on.
  • hot water: believe or not but some washers don’t have a hot water selection. If you’re washing diapers (or anything that you need hot water for), you will want hot water. I did not see one that had a hot water rinse option, but I’ve heard they are out there.
  • cycle lengths: it’s handy to look at how long the cycle lengths are for what you would use it for. If you’re working full-time and only have a couple hours in the evening, having a wash routine that takes four hours doesn’t work. This where top loaders are handy, much shorter washing time.
  • sanitation/steam cycles: the idea of a sanitation cycle for cloth diapers is great in theory. But keep in mind that these cycles will add excessive wear to your diapers and will break down the PUL and elastics of your diapers. Plus, most manufacturers will not honour your diaper warranty if you have used the sanitation or steam cycle on your washer.
  • noise: I know, an odd one to think about. But depending on where your washer is and it’s proximity to your sleeping little one, you’ll want to think about how noisy it is. If your washer is going to be on the second floor (truss type floor), you’ll want to make sure you pick one that is designed for that. Majority of front loaders are designed for cement floors, so you may have excessive vibration if you have it on your second level. I know this one has nothing to do with cloth diapers, but I thought I would share it as it was something I learned the hard way.

So what did we pick? We went with a top loader. After five years with a front loader, and a year and a half of washing diapers, a top loader met all our needs and our budget. Granted they are not “energy efficient”, but it sure is time efficient for us. Plus no more overnight soaks with Rockin’ Green in the bathtub!

Rockin' Green cloth diaper soak

Supervising the overnight Rockin' Green soak.

We’re working on a cloth diaper washing machine routine list, and we’d love to hear what your routine is! Send it to us via email or by post comment and we will collect it all for everyone to see.

Julie @ Little Monkey Store


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