I just discovered the “soak” feature on my front loader washing machine, and was so excited to see the difference it made in my cloth diaper wash routine! Front loaders are designed to use less water, which is great from an environmental point of view, but not so great for washing cloth diapers. When it comes to diapers, you really want as much water as you can to get them really clean and to rinse the detergent out really well.
My wash routine is generally prewash + hot wash, heavy soil + rinse + extra rinse.
I throw the extra rinse in just for peace of mind; it’s probably not necessary. Anyway, my rule of thumb is that if the diapers don’t smell like clean wet towels when the cycle ends, I wash them again. As my daughter is getting older (2 years and then some) it seems that the diapers get stinkier, and I was having to do this second wash cycle more often than I would have liked.
But yesterday, I saw the “soak” button. “What would happen,” I asked myself, “If I soaked these for 30 minutes before washing them?” What happened is that the soak (with 2-3 tbsp of Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent) was more effective than an additional prewash at loosening grime and getting the diapers clean and sweet-smelling by the end of the wash cycle! I am definitely adding this soak to my wash routine.
If you don’t have a soak feature on your machine, you can get the same effect by letting the washer fill with water and then pausing it for 30 minutes.