Diaper in the Washer: How to Clean Up When You Wash a Disposable Diaper

Minnesota mom blogger

Did you accidentally put a disposable diaper in the washer and let it run for a full cycle? If you did, don’t worry, I’ve done it, too 🙂 We can fix it!

diaper in washer

Read on to see what to do if you washed a diaper in the washing machine, and be sure to pin the above image Pinterest!

Diaper in washer

This is what’s inside a dry diaper. It’s called a super-absorbent polymer and it looks like it could just be swept up if it’s spilled.

diaper in washing machine

Do you know what that is? It’s a picture of what’s inside an unused diaper.

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This is the inside of a diaper after it gets wet (don’t worry, both of these one are wet from water). That super-absorbent polymer turns into a sticky, clumpy gel that clings to almost everything. If you put a disposable diaper in the washer you know how much the gel particles sticks to fabric!

Have you ever washed a disposable diaper in a washing machine? Have you seen the mess that disposable training pants create when accidentally washed with a load of clothes? If you haven’t, trust me, you’re lucky.

A few weeks ago, I bundled up a bunch of Haiden and Piper’s clothes, then put them in my Whirlpool Duet front-loading washing machine. I didn’t realize that a Pull-Up must have been stuck in a pair of pajama pants.

After washing the load in cold water, I opened the door to the washer to transfer them to the dryer. You know how black clothes look when you accidentally wash a load with some Kleenex in a pocket? It looked like that, but 50 times worse:

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While my Whirlpool Duet Premium washing machine has all sorts of cool features to tell me how to treat different type of stains and how to wash different types of fabric, there’s no button on there for getting the inside of a diaper or Pull-Up out of clothes!

To be completely honest, I panicked when I saw that mess in my “clean” clothes! I tried to pick up a few garments, but that small motion made the little gel bits start flying and sticking to my clothes and everything else in the laundry room.

Seriously, if you find that you’ve washed a diaper in your washing machine, do not start shaking the clothes out inside.

I’ve seen a wet-then-dried diaper, and I knew that I shouldn’t put the clothes in the dryer without getting the diaper gel out of them.

Google searches for diaper in the washer and I washed a diaper in the washing machine suggested using salt or vinegar/baking soda solutions in the washing machine, but I was worried that excessive amounts of any of those might cause more trouble for the washer down the road. Thankfully, my first attempt at washing the Pull-Up / inside-of-diaper off the clothes with standard laundry products was successful.

Here’s my recommendation on how to clean the mess when you wash a disposable diaper (or a pair of training pants) in a load of laundry: 

First, gently pick through the clothes and try to find the washed diaper in the washing machine. The diaper might still be holding some of that gel, and you don’t want it to break open even more while you’re trying to clean up.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Bring the entire load of messy wet clothes outside or to a big open space inside your house. Try to avoid carpeted areas. Obviously, this stuff sticks to everything.
  2. Lay down a tarp, pick up each item and shake off as much of the diaper insides as you can. This makes a huge mess, so don’t just do it in front of your washing machine! Dump the tarp into the garbage.
  3. Wipe down the inside of the washing machine with damp microfiber cloths to pick up as many diaper particles as you can. Microfiber is made to pick up tiny particles, so this is your best bet.
  4. Put the clothes back in the washer. Add detergent and a full scoop of OxiClean stain remover powder to the load. Run the clothes through a full cycle with an extra rinse.
  5. My load was clean after the first run through the washing machine, but you might need one more cycle. Be sure to use laundry detergent and Oxiclean if you need to wash it again! I think something in the OxiClean bubbles loosens the particles that are sticking to your clothes.
  6. After one or more cycles, Your clothes should be clean, and they can be dried as usual.

Cleaning the Washing Machine after a Diaper in the Washer

I was super-relieved that the washing machine and OxiClean did the job and cleaned up all those diaper particles from the clothes, but I couldn’t help but worry that those diaper pieces would clog up or cause problems with some part of the washer down the road.

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Luckily, my fabulous Whirlpool Duet Premium washer actually has a Clean Washer cycle to keep the machine running in tip-top condition! I popped an Affresh tablet into the drum of the washer and ran an empty load on hot water. When the cycle was complete, I used an Affresh Grit Grabber pre-moistened cloth to wipe down the entire rubber door seal.

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The Affresh tablet and Grit Grabber work together to dissolve residue and wash it away, leaving the washer clean and smelling fresh.

Under normal circumstances, the Clean Washer cycle should be run once per month to keep the washer in excellent working condition. A diaper in the washer was a special circumstance, so my washer got a bonus cleaning in between regularly scheduled cycles.

While my Whirlpool Duet Premium washer can’t tell me what to do in this particular diaper-burst-open laundry emergency, it does offer up a crazy amount of helpful features to make sure my laundry will get clean! One of the best features of this washing machine is the Stain Assist function:

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The Stain Assist screens allow you to identify common stains from baby poop to cough syrup to glue, and the machine will tell you what to do before, during and after washing the stained garments to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the stain out and keep your clothes as clean as possible! Note: There’s no diaper in the washer option in there!

If you haven’t seen my previous posts about my Whirlpool Duet Washer and Dryer reviews, here are the models I have:

I’ve had my Whirlpool Duet Premium washer and dryer for about three months. Overall, I’ve been supremely happy with both machines. Like, I’d hug and kiss them and whisper “I love you” in their little appliance ears if I thought they’d understand me. I actually caught myself thanking the dryer when it dried a two special blankies in just minutes right before bedtime!

I’m still exploring all the features and benefits both the washer and dryer have to offer, and I find myself being more and more impressed with the pair almost every day!

I wrote this review while participating in a test-drive campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Whirlpool and received a complimentary Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer to facilitate my review. 

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{ 9 Responses }

  1. Viviana Skidmore says:

    Wow! I can’t believe that other people have actually washed diapers too! This just happened to me last week! I did almost everything that you had done except, i unloaded the clothes shook them all out outside. Then I got my vacuum out and sucked out all of the little gel bits with my hose attachment. It cleaned very easily. Then rewashed the load with an extra rinse. Nobody will ever know about my silly mishap now. 😉

  2. Bwah ha ha! I can’t believe I am not the only one that has done that! Of course, I didn’t have your washer, so my mess was a little harder to clean up.

  3. That sounds like something I would have done, but yet, I haven’t! So glad you found a way to clean up the mess!

  4. What a mess! You crack me up! Glad it cleaned up.

  5. I just washed a load of my boys’ clothes with a gel window cling – think this would work too? I can’t “shake off” anything the way you suggested. I’ve ran it through 2-3 cycles and the junk is still on there. Think that OxiClean stain remover would help?

  6. Melissa McCoy says:

    According to one of the big diaper companies (Pampers I think), you can just go ahead and toss everything in the dryer than the gell balls will just get caught in the lint trap or shake off when dry. Then just wipe out washing machine with damp cloth. I am getting ready to try that approach as trying to get it all off while those little gel things are wet seems impossible.

    • Thanks for your comment, Melissa! It’s worth a try, but I might be inclined to only tumble everything dry with no heat, just air. I’d hate to cook those little gel bits onto the clothes 🙂

  7. Just had something similar happen to me. Let me tell you, as an older woman with a weak bladder, thick pads might add extra protection, but they make just as big of a mess as a pull up! Don’t ask me how it got in the wash, but I suspect a certain pup took it out of the trash and hid it in my laundry pile! Soooo…I ran to google after vacuuming out the gel bits and wiping down the washer. It is already on the clean washer cycle, but I wasn’t sure how to get it out of mt clothes…till I found this post! Thank you for saving this ol’ granny! I could Hug YOU for this post!

  8. Uggghhhh! Dumbest mistake EVER! I washed an ADULT diaper…not a small mess I assure you! So glad to find this post! My washer is on the clean cycle as I type.

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