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Thread: Ways to wash and dry cloth diapers

  1. #1

    Default Ways to wash and dry cloth diapers

    I bought an all-in-one cloth diaper through ebay. I tried and I think I like it, it's strange but cloth dipers never really felt like diapers to me at least the prefold ones with pins and plastic pants as opposed to disposables. However the one I bought is similar to modern pocket diapers that babies use and it really makes me feel babyish.

    So now I'm determined to use them as well as disposables and I would like some advice how to wash and dry them. I live in T0 apartment, I don't have a washing machine or a dryer and can't buy neither, I do however have an oil heater, which I've used to dry clothes, and a dehumidifer.

    Any advice and/or tips?

  2. #2


    Invest in some good detergent designed for washing diapers, make sure you rinse them out fully in the shower and put them in a bucket with detergent to soak for a little bit. You will need to agitate the diaper to clean it thoroughly and also rinse all the detergent out thoroughly.

    Drying over the heater will work, but I believe it might make the cloth stiff... Do you ever go to a laundromat? Maybe running it through a cool tumble dryer every so oven will help.

    At the end of the day nothing cleans them as thoroughly as a machine, but you may have to just make do.

    Good Luck, and congrats on giving cloth a try. I love cloth personally, and prefer to not be throwing away tonnes of disposables. The only hassle is washing, if you eventually own a few cloth diapers then it's easier to do one load every few days.

  3. #3


    As far as washing goes make sure you use a dye free scent free detergent. A five gallong bucket and lid makes a really good diaper pail. I usually do a dry pail, however if you do a wet pail make sure you change the water every day until wash time. For drying I would suggest by a drying rack ($10 at Walmart) and just letting them air dry. Aio's will probably take all nigh or a bit longer to dry, or a bit longer depending on when you washed them. That's what I've always done and have never had any problems. Plus the pul/ cover part of the diaper is not exposed to any heat and last longer.

    Since you live in an apartment an idea for you to be able to use a machine without people knowing you could wash at non peak washing times, late at night? Early morning? Transfer diapers from the diaper pail to a wet bag and dump into the machine. You could also bring a towel to cover the diapers over your basket when they are clean.

  4. #4


    How do you usually do your laundry? Is there really no washer or dryer in the picture, or are you concerned about using shared laundry machines and being caught with diapers? In any case, machine-drying cloth diapers will not only make things a zillion times faster, the tumbling action will make your diapers thicker and much softer. You've surely experienced the crispiness of bath towels that have been allowed to simply dry on a towel rack, yes? Well, the same thing happens to wet cloth diapers. If you are using shared laundry machines for your clothes, I'd suggest at least using the dryers to dry your hand-washed diapers. That's probably what I would do, just as a courtesy to the other users (even if the laundry facility doesn't expressly forbid washing of diapers).

    And again, there's the matter of time. When you first receive your new diaper, it won't have been "prepped" yet, which means it isn't really ready to wear. New cloth diapers should generally be washed and dried a minimum of three times in order to get the natural, water-repelling oils off the fabric. Prefolds, flats, and other non-AIO cloth diapers will often shrink a lot during the first few washes, so prepping also helps to ensure a proper fit. Prepping cloth diapers without laundry machines is going to be a week-long process, so... yeah. Prefolds are sometimes turbo-prepped by boiling them along with some dish soap or some other harsh, grease-cutting detergent, but you certainly can't do that with anything that's got a plastic cover.

    Laundry machines! Really, I would never recommend cloth to somebody who doesn't have access to laundry machines, or else a large number of cloth diapers to rotate through. Otherwise, the chore of washing means you're just not likely to get all that much use out of your cloth diapers. I suppose if you're mostly wearing and not wetting, but otherwise...

  5. #5


    Thanks everyone for all the advice so far.

    The seller was very kind to send a letter with instructions so some of the things related to the washing is already covered. As for drying I have no way to dry outside.

    I live fairly nearby my family so I go visit them on weekends and that's when I do my laundry and because of that if I were to buy a washing and/or drying machine besides being a investment for an apartment that I'm renting it would also prompt questions from my family that sometimes visit me of why did I needed to buy that.

    What Cottontail said however made search for laundry shops in Lisbon, which is where I live and because it's the capital and biggest city of my country it ought to have some.

    I knew already about laundry shops where you leave your clothes the staff does everything and you comeback later to pick them up.

    What's interesting though is that I found since 2012 the self-service laundry, also called american or american style laundry shops, have been booming with more shops opening and more people using them. I'm tempted to try them tbh, I'm afraid however that I'll have to show what clothes I'm gonna wash and all that but if I was to try it for the first time I wouldn't bring any diapers of course.

    Edit: I forgot to mention that my apartment has a drying rack in the bathroom the problem is that it takes a long time to dry diapers and probably not well dried, it's ok for bath towels and clothes but absorbent cloth diapers I'm not sure but maybe I'm fairly new to cloth diapering so we'll see.
    Last edited by Zendot; 17-Sep-2015 at 12:22.

  6. #6


    Sounds like your in an interesting situation re. parents and washing machines :P

    You shouldnt have to show what your washing at a self service laundromat! The last time I used one (many years ago, when my house didn't have a machine) they had the biggest washers and dryers you have ever seen. Nobody will notice your diapers in there, then again, who is going to care?

    For good measure (as I share our washing machine with others), I throw my towels in with the diapers, if anyone looks in the glass window of the washing machine, im just doing a load of towels!

  7. #7


    I'd suggest a self-service Laundromat since you don't have access to a washer personally. Since you can't air dry, I strongly suggest you put them in the dryer on a low heat and don't overdo it.

  8. #8


    They make portable rv washing machines easy go is one 45.00 us check them out on ebay.
    Mite have to do one at a time but could work for you.

  9. #9


    If you are doing small loads of cloth diapers, I recently saw a show where they took a 5 gallon pail with a lid, poked a hole in the lid the size of a bathroom plunger . The plunger had holes drilled into it for water to come out of the plunger. Put the handle of the plunger through the lid of the pail, fill about 1/2 of the bucket with your soapy water and use the plunger for an agatater. I don't know long you would have to plunge up and down, they didn't give any time frame. I don't know how well it works as I have a washer and dryer.

    Good luck

  10. #10


    So several people mentioned Laundromat, I didn't knew if it was a laundry franchise or something else, I googled it and apparently they exist in my city! What's interesting while I was checking the website of a franchised shop near my apartment is that they have prices differentiated for washing and drying, so I'm thinking I can just go there for drying right? Btw drying is way cheaper and quicker than washing.

    The washing I have it pretty much covered, I can just hand wash it I believe, it's the drying that's more problematic. Last year I bought a cloth prefold diaper from baby-pants that ended being too big but works great as an adult baby blanket, I hand washed it and it took so long to dry that it got moldy and I had to wash it again and dry on top of the oil heater. My problem with the AIO is that it might get damaged if I dry it the same way even if at low heat, besides it being a very inefficient way as well.

    So I might have to try the Laundromat. Thanks to all who replied so far.

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