Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering with a High Efficiency Washer

Laundering cloth diapers is of utmost concern to anyone who has decided to cloth diaper their child.  Besides the common questions about poop (How do I get it off? Will my clothes have poop on it? Etc.) the biggest question is "What does your wash routine look like?".  In my workshops I tell folks that water is the most important part of the wash routine - it needs to be at the right temperature, pH, and quantity.  By quantity I mean there needs to be a lot of it to properly rid the diapers of detergent that can cause build-up which will eventually lead to a cloth diapering mommy's worst nightmare - ammonia build-up and moisture repelling.

The first 2 years of my cloth diapering journey I had a great top loading machine - no HE here.  And it worked great!  So for those of you that have an old school top loader you're generally in the clear.  Recently I moved to a new home and we had to buy a new washing machine.  I was faced with the decision - do I buy a less efficient top loader just for my cloth diapers? Or, do I buy a high efficiency washer/dryer and get with the times already?  We decided to do the latter since we sure hope to have this washer & dryer for a lot longer than I'll be changing diapers.

First of all for those of you who are still rocking your old school washer and have no idea what the differences are here's a quick lesson.  Non-HE top loader machines can potentially fill the drum to the top with water.  Your clothes are completely submerged in the water and the drum agitates to launder your clothes.  With a front-loading HE machine the drum will never fill to the top so you clothes are never completely submerged.  Instead using smart technology it senses the weight of your laundry load, brings in just enough water such that when the drum spins the clothes passes through the water sufficiently.  That is, the water just sits at the bottom of the drum hence uses significantly less water than its counterpart, the old school top loader.  This can pose a problem to a cloth diaper load if the way this machine works isn't totally understood.

With all this in mind I shopped cautiously for a front loader and found an LG washer/dryer combo.  I checked out the features and spoke with a customer service person online and was thrilled at the features.  First of all, the washer has a "sanitary" pre-set that, no joke, in the manual says, "for washing cloth diapers".  I said, "what?!?!".  This setting automatically does an extra hot wash and a cold rinse.  Then I have the option to add the cold pre-wash and an extra rinse.  Yay!  There's even a dispenser for the pre-wash so if I want to put some vinegar in there to help kill some odors then I can without having to come back and put in detergent.  Also the extra hot wash is awesome because the washer has an internal water heater that boosts the water temperature... so I don't have to mess with my water heater, I'll always be getting extremely hot water in my wash.  The cycle does take about 2 hours though so the water savings, I think, may be negated by the energy usage.  However, because the water uses such little water I have to use much less soap, otherwise I'll get build up.  This translates into a savings on detergent - good stuff!

So I took the plunge and bought this washer/dyer.  I've been using this machine now for 3 months and here's my opinion.  I love the pre-set as I think it's great that someone out there is thinking about us.  I'm thinking that I still haven't figured out the optimum quantity of soap so whenever I think I may be having some build up I do a "rinse + spin" cycle with another extra rinse once the wash is done just to be sure.  The quality of the wash is pretty much the same - diapers still look clean, even when I've put in my newborn's breastfed poopy diapers.  I especially love that the front-loader doesn't have that darned agitator in the middle of the drum that shredded a couple of my shirts in my old washer... I'm thinking that should be less stress on my cloth diapers too.

In summary, I wouldn't be afraid of buying a high-efficiency front-loader washer if you're upgrading.  It can work, and will work. And yes, I would totally recommend buying an LG washer for the awesome cycle pre-sets, especially the cool sanitary cycle.  Thanks for thinking of us LG!

1 comment:

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