Monday, January 20, 2014

Washing Diapers in a Twin Tub Panda Washer

I've seen several inquiries and google searches about washing cloth diapers in a Twin Tub Panda, I'm no expert, but have been doing this for a year, changing routines, adapting to new situations and battling ammonia, so I'll see if I can answer your doubts to the best of my abilities.

Is it possible to wash diapers in a Twin Tub portable washer?
Yes. It takes more time than doing it on a regular and you have to do it more frequently, but it can be done.

How often should diapers be washed?
Depends on the number of diapers being used and the age of the machine. When it was newer, I could wash 10-12 diapers at a time, which allowed me to go for a couple of days without them accumulating if I had only one child in diapers (I had 2 for several months). Since it has been losing power due to barring and over use (and abuse), I do 7-8 diapers now, so I can wash twice every three days.

Should I spin the diapers inbetween rinses?
I do, just like in a regular machine, because it gets rid of more soap and more ammonia, but if you have good results skipping that step, good for you. This machine is extremely flexible, you control the time, the ammount of water and how many times you wash and rinse, there is no automatic cycle you have to adapt to.

Do diapers come dry out of the spinner?
No. But they dry much faster when you hang them than coming out of a regular washer. Polyester fabrics come almost ready, it takes a couple of hours, natural fibers are usually dry overnight, depending on humidity conditions.

Can I use a different detergent for my regular clothes?
Yes, I do that all the time, just give a rinse to the tub before you start filling it up.

Can I drain the water in the bathtub, will it overflow?
Yes, you can. It fills about 1/5 of the bathtub when you drain and it empties out in a couple of minutes. It is much safer than draining in the bathroom sink and pumping water in the drainage.

Do diapers get ammonia when washing them in a small portable setting?
Like any other devise, they might. In order to wash the ammonia buildup away, you need a combo of temperature, detergent and time washing. I use a ton of soap, hot water and 12 minutes in the wash and that keeps it down. I actually have an easier time dealing with ammonia with the Panda than with a regular Maytag.

Will my diapers get stained?
They might, I get less stains than in a regular washer, but if they do, I just hang them by the window and they are good as new after 2 or 3 washes (stains do not affect the diaper's funcionality).

What do I do if the washer starts walking?
Your spin drier is out of balance, open it and reaccomodate the clothes on top, trying to put them evenly and flat.

I like my puffy prefolds, can I get puff in the spin drier?
No, you need an air based drier for that. Time also helps, sometimes prefolds I haven't used in weeks appear fluffy later on.

How long does it take to get the diapers clean?
50 min to an hour according to my routine. About 2/3 of the time, the machine is doing its job by itself, no need to stay and babysit.

Can I leave the tub filling and come back later?
Yes, the machine has a hole on top that keeps the water draining into the inner tub and out, so it won't overflow (you still need to save water).

Can I leave the tub draining and come back later?
Yes, but there is no timer in the draining pump, so I wouldn't recommend leaving it on for  an undetermined period of time.

Can I leave the washer and/or the spinner working and come back later?

Will my diapers get damaged if washed in the Panda?
I've been using diapers for more than a year in a very limited stash. The Fuzibunz look good as new and so do the Tots Bots and the Blueberries. The Grovias do look wasted in the leg elastics, but I bought those used already.

How many times should I wash/rinse in the tub to get them clean?
As many as you seem appropiate. I do 4 (3 min hot rinse - 12 min hot wash - 5 min hot rinse - 3 minute cold rinse) and do not spin between 1 and 2. That's the equivalent to 2 cycles in a regular washing machine but with hotter water.

Can I use Dawn or Oxyclean in the Panda?
I do. Much safer to use Dawn in a Panda than in a regular washer.

Do diapers get moldy if left inside the spinner?
Depends on how long, the only times I have had mold issues the diapers were inside a bag damp for several hours, it was only the Grovias. I would still recommend not leaving them overnight in the spinner (no problem with leaving them soaking in the big tub).

I hope this helps, feel free to ask more.


  1. Thank you for this post. I am a first time mother with a due date in less than 2 weeks. I want to cloth diaper and got a Panda twin tub because we live in an apartment. I am a little unsure and nervous about cloth diapering and using this machine and was very happy to see this information. I would really appreciate if you can write more about your washing routine and detergent used. Once again, thank you.

    1. Hi, Glad to help.
      As for right now, I'm not washing diapers, since Tiny Guy successfully started using the potty a few months back. Baby #3 is due in about 6-7 weeks, so I'll start again. The routine described in this post is the one I did for over a year, but was not the first one. Check out the posts "My Twintub Panda Washing Routine" and "Fears, Rules and Detergents" for more into different detergents and routines. I used nothing for the hot rinse, Zote for the 12 minute hot wash, 2 drops of Dawn for the hot rinse and nothing for the cold rinse. I'd recommend to start easy and get a couple of bags of disposables. Oh, and with poopy diapers from breastfeeding, I'd usually put them first on the washer and do a quickie with cold water and only filling like a fifht of the tub, drain and then add the rest.

  2. I need to know... How much detergent do you actually use per load. I can't get an answer from anyone and I have this machine!