Team Carlson (that’s my family of four) went on vacation.  We spent five weeks at my in-laws' house (and loved it - I married into an awesome family).

Rockin Green Cloth Diaper Detergent

On perhaps the third day, I did diaper laundry using my usual routine and detergent.  I did a cold rinse, a hot wash with a teaspoon of Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent, a cold rinse, and then another rinse (on hot).

I’m fairly certain it was a combination of the high-efficiency washer and my in-laws’ well water (very hard) that caused the immediate and obvious stink. The ammonia went nuclear.  I mean – WOW.  While there, I was never able to get rid of it entirely, though I spent the last couple of weeks trying vinegar, Borax, and baking soda at various points in the wash routine.  I had some success, but really wanted to try RLR in there...which I couldn't find in any of three grocery stores I checked!  And I couldn't try Calgon either, because it causes my diaperling to break out in a rash.

When I got home, I did a wash with a few squirts of blue Dawn followed by lots of rinsing while I waited for a chance to go pick up some RLR.  Still no dice, just stink.  The RLR eventually did the trick, so I'm wondering if I should plan to bring that with me to my in-laws' when we next visit?  Or if, perhaps, Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer works better in the thick of things with hard water and an HE machine?

I also attempted to do lots of hot rinses in the HE machine, checking for soap bubbles to see if I had detergent build-up (since I hadn't reduced the amount of detergent from what I use at home). But this proved difficult with the HE machine!

In my high-inefficiency washer at home, I simply open the lid, set the washer to fill with a large load’s worth of hot water, and walk away.  When it has stopped filling, I return and close the lid so the washer will agitate for several seconds.  Then I open the lid to check for suds.  If I see soap bubbles (not agitation bubbles, which dissipate quickly when the lid is opened and agitation stops), I close the lid and know I’ll be repeating this process again later.  If there are no soap bubbles, I let the washer finish that cycle and then move the diapers to the dryer.

With my in-laws’ high-efficiency machine, I had to figure out how to 1) get it full of as much water as possible to speed the process along, 2) catch it while agitating since I couldn’t make it pause before agitating and wait for me, 3) see potential bubbles since I couldn’t open the lid.

Here’s how I accomplished each of these (is it sad that this felt like an amazing use of my problem-solving skills?):

1) I added a wet towel, per the suggestion of a friend, to get as much water into the washer as I could.

2) I read a book standing in front of the washer and timed how long it took to fill.  Then I could set a timer and walk away for that amount of time for the (many, many) subsequent rinses.

3) Well, there is a window on the top, which you would think just makes me an idiot – or maybe blind.  But no!  Because I was using hot water, the window got all fogged up!  I have no idea how you would handle this with a front loader, but I finally figured out that this top loader would let me pause it during agitation.  I then got rather agitated waiting for it to unlock the door so I could look for bubbles, but I figured anything I could then see was clearly a soap bubble and not an agitation bubble.

Have any of you readers figured out how to solve these problems in HE washers?  What about front loaders?  What is your general HE and/or hard water wash routine?  What are your favorite detergents and/or laundry aids for this situation?


Brea Carlson is thrilled to be blogging regularly for The Green Nursery as a long-time customer and fan of the shop.  Unless otherwise noted, Brea has purchased all items mentioned in her posts.  Though she is being paid for her time spent writing, her opinions are her own and cannot be bought.  Brea also writes at Contentedly Crunchy and for the BABS Blog.