If you’re a green person like me you probably have, or want, a HE washing machine. Less energy, less water, and less money at bill time are all big perks. So, when the day came that our ancient washer literally went “KA-PUT”, we bought a brand new HE machine. I wanted a front loader, but had to compromise on an HE top loader. A Whirlpool Cabrio to be exact (what happened to women always getting what they want?). It was clean, bright, and super quiet. Nothing like the ancient metal mammoth I was used to.
I washed all the laundry as I normally would, and for the first week - week and a half I was very impressed! Clothes and diapers were all coming out clean and very soft. Then it happened. Yes, IT. The smell of ammonia. The thing is, it didn’t slowly creep into the diapers, it hit like a ton of bricks! It was the kind that burns your nose hair and eyes. It was horrible! Terrified that an ammonia burn could happen I frantically stripped with hot wash after hot wash, and rinsed, rinsed, rinsed. Satisfied that I had sterilized and killed every last bacteria cell that could possibly be lingering in the dipes, we went about bedtime as usual. The next morning IT was still there, and this time my son’s “area” was all red. I hadn’t had issues with diapers in a VERY long time, since I was a beginner, so I was convinced that I needed to change my wash routine because of the new HE washer.
Here is what I’ve discovered since traveling down a very long road of trial and error with our HE top loading washer:
1. HE top loader (HETL) washers ARE NOT THE SAME as front loaders (FL)
2. HETL let you add a lot of water (great, so the diapers can get nice and clean!)
3. Adding too much water in an HETL will make the diapers float (not so great, because the agitator is on the bottom)
4. A happy medium must be found for diapers and washer to get along- before going insane J
With that said, here is the wash routine that works for us. Clean diapers, no more smells, and happy baby:
Cold Rinse/No Spin
Cold Rinse/Medium Spin
Cold Heavy Duty/Medium Spin
(These are initial rinses to get residue off)
Cold Heavy Duty + detergent + ¼ cup baking soda/No Spin
Hot Heavy Duty + detergent + ¼ cup baking soda/STOP after agitating and soak for 1 hour or overnight
(push START to finish previous cycle)/Medium Spin
(These are the wash cycles to get the diapers clean)
Hot Heavy Duty/No Spin
Cold Heavy Duty + Extra Rinse/Medium Spin
(These are final rinses to get all the left over detergent out)
I know, it looks like a lot. But remember, you don’t have to stand in the laundry room and wait for everything to finish. I start when I get home in the evening, let the diapers soak overnight and finish the next day. On weekends, I start in the morning and finish in the evening. This is what I’ve found to work for us over a long period of time (months). It took forever to find a routine that worked and there wasn’t much about HETL online. So, I hope this helps others out there! Have you found a wash routine that works for you and your top loader?
Gina is a green living advocate, and mom of two boys (ages 2 & 3), who has cloth diapered exclusively for 3 years. A self-proclaimed tree hugger, she loves to share the benefits of all things natural and organic.