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Real Life Cloth Diapering: Cloth Diapers without a Washing Machine

This post is included in a series of posts about real parents cloth diapering in a variety of life situations. You can read about parents that work full time, cloth diaper without a washing machine, cloth diaper part time and more! Stay tuned for more Real Life Cloth Diapering Stories from parents like you!

I knew I wanted to cloth diaper before my baby was born. My mother had cloth diapered with a diaper service and she encouraged me to do the same. One of my best friends cloth diapers her baby and she was a great resource and encourager for my decision. However, once my daughter was born it was a whirlwind of poop, sleepless nights, and reflux issues and so cloth diapering fell by the wayside.

My husband returned from a deployment when our daughter was about 3 months old and I finally had the extra help I needed to tackle my fear of cloth diapering. Unfortunately, the apartment that I was renting at the time did not allow tenants to have their own washer and dryer. So my options were the laundromat down the block, a shared coin washer in the basement of the building, or my bath tub. One of the reasons my husband and I chose to cloth diaper was to save money and using a laundromat or coin washer would completely defeat that purpose so I chose my bath tub.

I remember the first day I ran out of disposables and felt totally committed to cloth diapering, I was overwhelmed and daunted by the task. By the end of that day I realized my fears were unfounded and cloth diapering was no more difficult than disposables and I didn't have any poosplosions (my term for the poop seepage that covered my daughter's onesies on a regular basis).

I started with gDiapers and used cotton prefolds as inserts because I knew they would be easiest to wash. I reused the cover whenever possible and rinsed the plastic liner before washing it with some detergent I put in a squirt bottle next to my bathroom sink. The prefold went into a small bucket that sat in my bathtub and I sprinkled baking soda in to it to keep it from smelling.

Every other night I would fill the bucket with water and diaper detergent and let them soak for a few hours then I hand washed and rinsed them like any other clothing item. Once a month I put all the prefolds into a coin washer with a little bleach to make sure they were getting thoroughly cleaned. When it was warm and sunny outside I line dried them on my porch and when it was cold I put them on a drying rack near a window.

I eventually added bumGenius, Rumparooz and GroVia diapers to my diaper laundry routine and cloth diapered without a washing machine for about six months before moving to an apartment with a washer/dryer hookup. My daughter rarely got rashes and never again had a poosplosion while wearing a cloth diaper.

Have you cloth diapered without access to a washing machine? What tips do you have?

Indya has a 14 month old daughter that she has been cloth diapering for a year. She is also a Coast Guard wife and writes about her experiences as a mother, military wife, and renter over at

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