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Thursday, August 1, 2013

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Rub a Dub Dub, Washing Cloth Diapers in the Tub

This summer we had occasion to test out hand washing cloth diapers. We were asked to attend a conference for our church. Day care was provided at no cost to us. No cooking, no cleaning, and my kids in a safe environment with all their needs met for a good cause? Sure!

Oh wait - diapers. Hmm. Yes, I did ponder disposables for about a minute, and then decided that if all else failed, we’d pack up what we had half way through the 4 day event and take it to a Laundromat. As it turns out, we were so tired, that we couldn’t even THINK about finding a Laundromat. By the time we got done the second day, we were completely exhausted and took the kids to the hotel early. We had already purchased some detergent samples to travel with us. I exclusively use flat diapers inside my pocket diapers anyway, for their ease of washing a single layer, and after this adventure, I was VERY glad we did!

Leaving our kids with the care was easy. I said ‘oh by the way we use cloth diapers’ and showed them some bum Genius pockets that closed with hook and loop. Yes, I did this the easiest way I possibly could! Sometimes the diapers were not on tight enough, and my daughter did not get changed often enough to suit me every day. Once they changed her and she wasn’t wet, so she completely flooded the next diaper. We were nearly done for the day, so I just told them to change her and leave her pant-less. Rookie mistakes on their part, but it all worked out fine in the end. I would definitely travel with flat diapers again, and the main reason is for how easy they were to wash in the hotel bathtub!

  1. Add hot water and diapers to the tub and give them a good rinse.
  2. Drain water; add more water and a sample packet of cloth diaper safe laundry detergent.
  3. Agitate and let soak.
  4. Drain, rinse, repeat.
  5. Squeeze out and hang to dry. We used the shower, closet bar, and crib, as well as the AC unit.
Now, my only real issue is that with strictly air conditioning, it took a long time for the pockets to dry. By alternating use of the AC unit, we were able to dry the flats well enough in about 2 days. If we’d had a fan, a dryer, or heat, or could have rotated them more often, it would have taken a lot less time. If someone with more strength in their arms had wrung the flats out, I’m sure they would have dried even faster, but my hubby didn’t volunteer! I’m not sure a thicker insert like microfiber or a prefold would have dried in 2 days. The pockets? They only partially dried. This is why most people use covers when traveling and doing their own baby’s changes! Again, I wanted it to be as easy as possible on the caregivers, so it was a bit harder on me, and that was fine. I ran everything through a quick wash when I got home (as I had diapers left over before leaving and the last 2 days worth anyway), but I don’t think it was necessary. I believe that the hand agitation was enough to get them clean. If you were in a bind and needed a handful of diapers washed each day on vacation, it would be simple enough to do (it took less than half an hour). Having a spot in the sunshine or with moving air would be a huge bonus, and oftentimes that is available (camping, visiting family, etc) but it is definitely doable, even in a hotel tub!

Have you ever traveled with cloth diapers where there was no laundry facility?

Bio: Jill blogs about her growing family and a life 'just this side of crunchy' at

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Parenting Patch said...

I have traveled with cloth. The hotel did not have laundry. I just found a laundry mat a few blocks away.

Anonymous said...

I handwash on a daily basis. I use a combo of prefolds, pockets, flats, and soakers. By far the flats and soakers are the easiest to wash! The prefolds take significantly longer to dry but I use them in my pocket diapers because its easier for my husband or sitter. They are also nice for going out. I have never used cloth diaper detergent though. At first we used a bar of ivory soap but it was leaving things super stiff. Now I use a generic soap free wash and pre-soak in a large bucket with around a teaspoon of oxygen cleaner. I fill the bucket and work the diapers in one by one to ensure I am thorough. Then I rinse well and hang them to dry near a window. Has been working great for months now!