What can a family do if they want to use cloth diapers but do not have access to a washing machine? In this article, we discuss washing cloth at the laundromat or in a shared laundry facility and talk about alternative diaper laundry options.
Laundromat Diaper Laundry
For some families, the best option might be using a shared laundry facility or taking their diaper laundry to the laundromat. While lugging your diapers across town isn't ideal it can be done. Many families who wash their diapers in shared machines opt to prewash their diapers by hand at home. This cuts down on the number of laundry cycles you have to pay for. If you rinse and wring out your diapers thoroughly it'll also buy you some more time between wash days.
When washing your cloth diapers at the laundromat you might want to do a load of clothes in the washer before using it for cloth diapers as you do not know what detergent and softeners were previously used in a machine at the laundromat. Be sure to select the longest cycle with the strongest agitation for your hot wash. Do not dry your diapers in a laundromat dryer as hot temperatures can damage the diapers' waterproofing and ruin elastics.
Why Consider Alternatives Over the Laundromat
There are some things to consider before committing in the laundromat life for your cloth diapers. First, doing laundry in a shared facility can get quite expensive. Next, there are many factors that you cannot control in a shared facility, which can be hard on your diapers. For example, you cannot control how HOT the hot cycles are and cloth diapers should not be washed in water hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit because it will compromise the diapers' TPU and ruin elastics. If anyone in your family has allergies washing in a shared facility might not be a good idea because you have no control over what detergents or fabric softeners have been used in the machines. Additionally, residue left in shared washers can cause build up in your cloth. All this to say, if you do not have access to in-unit laundry where you live considering these alternative diaper laundry options is definitely worth it.
What To Do Instead
Remember anyone can cloth diaper anywhere. Families were washing diapers LONG before the invention of the disposable diaper and before the dawn of washing machines for that matter! Educating consumers about all the options can help make cloth diapering accessible to more families so let's start with the least expensive option, handwashing.
Handwashing cloth diapers is not as daunting as you may think. In fact, many families who handwash their diapers actually like it! One way to handwash is to use a bucket or the bathtub as a water basin and a plunger for agitation. Thirsites Groupie @blake_humphrey on Instagram uses a washboard in the kitchen sink. She recommends folks, "make sure the sink is clean, rinse everything, wash on washboard and rinse. It holds a day worths nicely!" To get diapers clean all you need is hot water, detergent, and agitation. While there are different ways to handwash they all use these elements to get diapers clean.
The Wonder Wash
The WonderWash® is a hand-cranked, pressurized portable washing machine. Our social media gal, Laura, used the WonderWash® to clean her cloth diapers while living in an apartment. The WonderWash® is fast and effective and at $60 it is a great option for families who do not have access to an in-unit washing machine. You can watch Laura demonstrate handwashing with a plunger and with the Wonder Wash here.
Another alternative diaper laundry option is an electric portable washer. Several of our Thirsties Groupies love using these for their diaper laundry. Electric portable washers do not take up much space and do not require laundry hookups. Here are two models that our customers have used and recommend: Best Choice Products Portable Compact Twin Tub Laundry Machine & Spin Cycle w/Hose – available on Amazon and Walmart (Price vary depending on capacity size 8lbs $99); Panda 1.54cu.ft Compact Portable Washing Machine – Available at Walmart and on Amazon ($254). As you can see these machines can be expensive but if your family prioritizes space and convenience over cost a portable electric washer can be a great option.
What is a family to do if they want to use cloth but do not have access to a washer at home? Now you know three options that don't entail folks needing to air out their dirty laundry at the laundromat. We hope that this article helps families understand that when it comes to cloth diapering there are so many options and that includes laundry options.
Have you done diaper laundry at the laundromat or used one of these alternative laundry options? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!