Will a Diaper Ruin a Washing Machine?

It’s easy to accidentally wash all kinds of things that you didn’t intend to put in the washer.

Keys, change, kid’s toys… every now and again you’re just too busy and something surprising makes it in.

So, will a diaper ruin a washing machine?

No, a diaper should not ruin a washing machine, but it will require careful cleanup, time, and a few more cleaning cycles to get back to being sparkly and sanitary. While an exploded diaper certainly looks like the end of your washer, this is definitely not the case!

Today we’re going to tell you more about this subject, so that you’ll know what to do if you accidentally wash a diaper, how you can get out those pesky ‘absorbent crystals’, and even how to set up a cloth diaper washing regimen.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

What to do if you accidentally wash a disposable diaper

First off – don’t worry. Washing machines are tough and this is definitely not the end, but you’re going to need to do a bit of cleaning to get your washer back to its previous, pristine state.

If a disposable diaper accidentally gets into the washer, then it likely ‘exploded’, and here’s how you’ll want to clean it:

  • With rubber gloves, start by removing the diaper and worst bits of the waste to dispose of carefully. Don’t be surprised if there is a ‘goo’ present. This is normal and comes from the absorbent beads inside the diaper. This is going to be a bit messy at first, but you’ll manage it.
  • You’ll need to take the clothes outside and give them a good shake, much as if you were cleaning a small carpet. This MUST be done outside – otherwise you’ll end up with gel on the walls and on the floor and you’re going to have a long, bad day cleaning that up!
  • Wipe down the insides of the washer with some paper towels. If there are beads stuck in the small holes inside the drum wall, then proceed to the next section for cleaning instructions, otherwise just clean it as thoroughly as you can and load the shaken clothing back inside the washer.
  • While Pampers recommends that you just toss those clothes in the dryer and that any remaining beads or gel will end up in the lint trap, the more sanitary option is to simply give your clothing another wash or even two. This will thoroughly clean than and then you can dry as normal – problem solved!

Is there a way to remove the absorbent ‘beads’ from the machine?

If you’re reading this section, then those absorbent beads which make diapers so efficient have become lodged in the washer and you’re probably panicking.

Go ahead and take a deep breath, however, because we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Run an empty wash, selecting the ‘cold’ cycle, and don’t add any detergent. Let this run to completion and then we’re going to run a second wash, using our secret weapon – vinegar.
  • Vinegar is the ‘Achilles heel’ of those absorbent beads, so you’ll want to measure ½ of a cup of white vinegar and add this to a second wash. Use the speed cycle, so it’s nice and vigorous, and this should get most of, if not all of those beads.
  • If the first run missed a few, try cleaning with vinegar and paper towels, and if there are still some that you can’t seem to get, then give it a second go with the vinegar.

You should be able to wash after this, even if there are a few scattered beads still present. The washer will be sanitary by and the beads should not harm it or harm your clothing.

While some may end up in your laundry, the dryer cycle can certainly handle a small amount and send it right to the lint trap.

Is it safe to wash cloth diapers in the washing machine?

Yes! You can certainly wash cloth diapers in your washing machine, but you’re going to need to wash them separately from your other clothing, and you need to give them a thorough pre-wash first outside.

The best strategy is to give them a spray with a diaper sprayer or a simple pressure attachment to a hose outside.

This will keep the worst of it from solidifying and you can place the rinsed diaper in a plastic-lined diaper pail until you’ve got enough cloth diapers ready to wash as a load.

After that, give them a hot wash with some child-friendly, mild detergent and give it an extra rinse cycle for good measure – even with a mild soap, some children may become red or itchy with contact and the extra rinse will help to ensure that you’ve removed as much of that detergent as possible.

Final Words

Accidentally washing a diaper is frightening, but you can fix it up in a pinch.

Get the worst of the diaper and mess out first, shake your clothing thoroughly, and give it a good wash or two and often that’s all you’ll need to do.

If crystals or beads from the diaper are lodged in there, a little vinegar in the wash will quickly even the playing field, though it might take 2 cycles if there are a lot of them.

 Finally, if you want to wash cloth diapers, just be sure to rinse them thoroughly first and store them in a lined diaper pail until you’re ready to wash them together.

Now that you know what to do, you can relax a little. Your washing machine and your laundry are going to be just fine.