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So. Have you ever accidentally washed a diaper in the washing machine? I’m guessing that you have if you’re here, right? Unfortunately, I have some experience in this area, and it’s reason #847 that I’m glad I (usually) use cloth diapers. Sigh.
Some backstory: we were on a road trip to Santa Fe, and, of course, there was a ton of laundry to be done. One of the first things I did when we got settled back home was to throw some laundry in the machine.
I threw our vacation laundry in the machine, which included the pair of pajamas that my son was wearing the night before we left for the weekend.
I get the load going and don’t think anything more of it until the rinse cycle when I went to the laundry room, which happens to be in the bathroom. Since our machine has a glass top, I looked in to see how things were going.
That’s when I saw it. That’s when I saw that I had washed a Pull Up that was never thrown away before my son threw his pajamas in the laundry pile. I love that the little man was helpful with the laundry, but you’ve got to be kidding me!
Related post: How to Identify Different Types of Diaper Rash
The last thing I ever thought I would do is accidentally wash a disposable diaper since I’m usually a cloth diapering mom.
I’ve heard of people who have washed a diaper in the washing machine and always wondered how in the world that could happen. Well, now I know.
This is what it looks like when a diaper explodes in the washer. What a mess!
After my initial panic and a quick check with Professor Google, I cleaned up the mess. Now my mistake can help others clean diaper gel out of the washing machine.
What To Do When You Accidentally Put A Diaper In The Washing Machine
First of all, if you do wash a disposable diaper, don’t panic! It’s easier to clean than it seems like it will be. Trust me.
First, pull the diaper out as soon as you see it, then complete your wash cycle.
Once the Wash Cycle is Finished
- After you removed the diaper and completed your wash cycle, shake every piece of laundry out as well as possible.
- Put all the laundry in the dryer as normal, OR you can rewash everything first.
- Dry your laundry normally. The beads will either disintegrate or end up in your lint trap.
How to Clean the Washing Machine After Accidentally Washing a Diaper
- While your laundry is drying, wipe as much of the diaper gel out of the washing machine as possible with a damp paper towel. Don’t worry about getting everything.
- Add a half cup of laundry detergent and 1/4 cup of salt to the machine.
- Run an empty wash or cleaning cycle using as much water as possible.
That’s it! My machine was clean after this step, but I ran a clean cycle with Affresh washing machine cleaner afterward just to be on the safe side.
How Does Salt Dissolve Diaper Gel Beads?
If you tried adding salt to the mixture, you might have noticed that the texture and volume of the gel mixture changed back to a liquid. This is because salt breaks the attraction between water and polymer chains.
The added salt breaks into negative and positive ions, which are also attracted to the water molecules. Each salt ion attracts several water molecules to it, thereby pulling them away from the polymer.
Eventually enough water is pulled away so that the mixture goes from gel back to liquid.Diapers: What Keeps Babies and Astronauts from Springing a Leak? – Scientific American
With one wash, my laundry and my machine were good as new again. I don’t plan on having this accident again (who does?), but if I ever do, I know not to panic.
While it’s messy and looks like an absolute nightmare to clean, it’s quite easy to clean up after washing a diaper in the washing machine.