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Camping in Cloth Diapers

When it comes to camping, we all have different ideas of what that might mean. My husband gets a little spooked that it means using a tent, hiking miles to get to a secluded spot, and totally roughing it - which it can be, but it’s not the only way. Others love having all the comforts of home, including wi-fi, cable, A/C, and, of course, indoor plumbing, but in a peaceful, natural setting. I fall somewhere in between. I’ve done the tent thing (sans hiking, it was at a heavily wooded campground) and rented several house-like cottages over the years. While I like both, I kind of prefer a small cabin with few rooms, cold running water, a toilet, and a campfire. See? In between. No matter what style of camping you enjoy, you can still cloth diaper while doing so. It may seem like an extra pain in the neck, but it’s actually easier than you think! Here are a handful of tips and reasons cloth diapers are actually perfect for camping to help you get down to the business of enjoying the peace (and s’mores), not worrying about your diapering situation.
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1. Leave No Trace - Cloth diapers are the antithesis of garbage, perfect for the “leave no trace” credo. For a one-night trip, just zip in a wet bag and wash when you get home. For longer, wash and reuse or bury compostable liners. You can’t do that with disposables! 2. Keep It Simple - If you’re going for an extended period of time, it might be easiest to take the flats or prefolds and covers route. It’s simple, fastest to dry, and compact for traveling. Plus, if you don’t already own any, they’re the cheapest method to build quickly (and you only need a couple of days’ worth). Of course, it’s been done with other styles, as well, but your drying times will vary. 3. Plan Ahead for an Easier Time - By finding out what laundry and water accessibility your camp will have in advance, you'll be able to plan out exactly the number of times you'll have to wash diapers and whether you'll need to get creative with your washing. 4. Get in Touch with Nature...Literally - If you’re in a rental cabin that has a washing machine, congratulations! Otherwise, you’ll have to act like great-grandma and try some more creative methods. You may have to try out a camp washer, a Scrubba bag (for frequent campers, it could be a wise investment), or even a washboard or portable washing machine. Also, a clothesline and clothespins hung between branches (or tent poles; improvise!) is the best drying method, when needed.
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5. Consider Your Toxicity - It's not very earth- and animal-friendly to dump black water (thanks to urine and fecal material) near a water source or hiking trail. You could compromise potential drinking water for animals and other hikers, so utilize toilet facilities to dump wash water whenever possible, or at the very least bury it 200+ feet from the nearest water source. Also, choose a biodegradable soap! On the same token, don't forget to purify whatever natural water you use, whether by boiling it or using a purchased water purification system. 6. Don't. Feed. The. Bears. (It's not just for Rabbit.) - When tent camping, don't use open storage for dirty diapers. Rather, zippered hanging wet bags or tightly lidded trash can will keep odors (and suspicious animals) away. 7. Don't Overthink It - Remember you're there to have fun! Don't spend all your time scrubbing diapers and determining water sources. Just make it a point to wash a day’s worth of diapers and get them hung, then enjoy your favorite outdoor activities. By nighttime, they’ll be dry and ready to go. Lather, rinse, repeat the next morning or so!
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So, does your family enjoy camping? What do you consider “camping” - roughing it, getting in touch with nature (but with cable), or somewhere in between? Where’s your favorite spot?

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Megan is a wife, mother to two young children, freelance writer, and educator. She shares her attempts at simplifying, among other things, at her blog, Meg Acts Out. When not busy meeting deadlines and chasing cats and kids, she enjoys acting in community theatre (where she met her husband), watching old movies, and sharpening her history buff skills.

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