Free Shipping On Orders Over $10

menu
menu

Shop Our Other Stores:

  • Imagine Baby Products
  • Planet Wise Products
  • Best Bottom Products
  • Oh Lily Products

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers - How to Cloth Without Facilities

hand washing cloth diapers

I’m certain there were many reasons why you chose cloth diapers.

And now, there may be just as many reasons why you are considering hand washing cloth diapers.

Perhaps it’s for the environment.

Or it could be out of pure necessity such as not having any access to laundry facilities.

Whatever the reason, I’m here to provide you with a general hand washing cloth diapers routine as well as give you further ideas, tips, and tricks.

Hopefully, once you’ve read through this post you’ll decide that washing cloth diapers by hand isn’t as bad or as hard as you may be thinking.

You would be joining thousands of cloth diapering parents before you, who not only like washing cloth diapers by hand, but have come to prefer it!

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers - When and Why

hand washing cloth diapers outside

Besides it being a personal preference for many, consider some of the other situations when washing cloth diapers by hand might come in handy.

A Broken Washer or Dryer

For those who prefer using a washer and dryer to clean and dry their cloth diapers, a surprise breakdown of one or both could easily turn into a cloth diaperer’s nightmare!

Cloth diapers are known to pile up quickly if not washed at least daily.

Being familiar with how to hand wash cloth diapers in the case of such an event would not only be very helpful but also very wise.

When Camping

Some campgrounds offer laundry facilities, but many don’t. Consider hand washing cloth diapers as a convenient alternative when camping.

During a Diaper Emergency

Imagine you find yourself in a pinch and you realize you’re about to run out of clean cloth diapers.

Washing cloth diapers by hand could be a better alternative to running a load in the machine. (Especially if there’s no machine to be found).

A Lack of Laundry Facilities

Perhaps you live in an apartment building with no facilities or they’re shared facilities.

Or, you usually bring your clothes to the laundromat, and lugging around a heavy pale of dirty cloth diapers isn’t your idea of a good time.

In both cases, there is a lack of comfort and ease (and an added expense).

Washing cloth diapers by hand in the comfort of your own home is a simple, cheap, and time-saving alternative.

While Vacationing in a Hotel

While vacationing with your family in a hotel, consider using the hotel tub for hand washing cloth diapers instead of any shared and expensive facilities.

It’s a popular alternative for many families.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers - General Routine

There are many ways you could hand wash cloth diapers.

The general routine includes first removing solids, then doing a pre-rinse followed by a hot wash, and then a final rinse.

Your routine will look something like this:

  • Remove solids either by using a diaper sprayer, by shaking off solids into the toilet, by using a flushable liner, or by using the dunk and swish method. Place in a diaper pail until ready to wash.
  • Do a pre-rinse with COLD water, using a small amount of detergent.
  • Do a heavy-duty wash with HOT water, using the recommended amount of detergent.
  • Rinse

Keep in mind that everyone’s routine will vary slightly and it may take some practice to figure out what works for you, but in general, your hand washing cloth diapers routine should be similar and be fairly quick and easy.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers - Choose Your Method

There are three popular methods for washing cloth diapers by hand. I’ll be discussing each in more detail below.

These are:

  • The bathtub method
  • The bucket/plunger method
  • The wash basin/washing board method

What you will need for each method:

  • Cloth/diaper safe detergent
  • Water Softener (optional)
  • Hot/warm/cold water
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

What else you will need depending on your method of choice:

  • Bathtub
  • Plunger
  • Bucket
  • Wash basin
  • Washboard

The Bathtub Hand Washing Method

handwashing cloth diapers in the bathtub

The bathtub method tends to take up the most water and time, but it is convenient because it requires no extra tools - just a bathtub and your hands and feet - although you can use a plunger if preferred.

Directions:

Cold Pre-Rinse

  1. Fill your bathtub halfway up with cold water and toss in your diapers.
  2. Add a small amount of detergent and water softener to the bucket and swish it around a few times to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Soak for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Drain the water from the bathtub.

Hot Wash

  1. Fill the bathtub halfway up with the hottest water possible.
  2. Add the required amount of detergent and water softener to the bucket and swish it around a few times to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Stomp or run in place (or if using plunger - plunge, and swish) for about 5 minutes.
  4. Leave diapers to soak for about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Stomp or run in place (or plunge and swish) for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Drain the tub.

Final Rinse

  1. Rinse diapers under cool water to remove detergent.
  2. Wring out diapers thoroughly.
  3. Hang to dry.

The Bucket/Plunger Hand Washing Method

using a plunger to hand wash cloth diapers

One of the easiest ways to hand wash cloth diapers is with a 5-gallon bucket and a plunger. This method saves on water, but keep in mind that you can only wash a few diapers at a time this way.

Cold Pre-Rinse

  1. Fill up the bucket about halfway with cold water.
  2. Add a small amount of detergent and water softener to the bucket and swish it around a few times with your plunger to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Add in your diapers.
  4. Plunge 50 times and then rest 5 minutes.
  5. Plunge 50 times again.
  6. Dump Water

Hot Wash #1

  1. Fill the bucket about halfway with hot water.
  2. Add the required amount of detergent and water softener to the bucket and swish it around a few times with your plunger to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Add in your diapers.
  4. Plunge 50 times
  5. Rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Plunge 50 times once again.
  7. Dump water.

Hot Wash #2

  1. Repeat steps 1-7 of Hot Wash #1.
  2. Wring out diapers thoroughly.

Final Rinse

  1. Repeat steps 1-6 of Pre-Rinse but do not include the detergent.
  2. Hang to dry.

The Wash Basin/Washing Board Hand Washing Method

hand washing cloth diapers with a wash board

The wash basin with washboard method might initially stir up memories of days gone by, but I assure you that this practice is still being used today by many for hand washing cloth diapers.

Directions:

Cold Pre-Rinse

  1. Fill the wash basin halfway with cold water.
  2. Add a small amount of detergent and water softener to the bucket and swish it around a few times to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Add diapers, agitate for 5-10 minutes, and let sit.
  4. Scrub diapers on washboard.
  5. Wring out diapers and place them in a clean bucket.
  6. Drain water.
  7. Rinse out the washbasin.

Hot Wash

  1. Fill the wash basin with the hottest water possible.
  2. Add the required amount of detergent and water softener (optional) to the basin and swish it around a few times to dissolve the mixture.
  3. Add diapers, and agitate for 5-10 minutes, and let sit.
  4. Place a diaper on the washboard, soap on both sides, and scrub on the washboard, paying particular attention to any stains.
  5. Dunk in water.
  6. Wring out diapers and place them in a clean bucket.
  7. Repeat with each diaper.

Final Rinse

  1. After cleaning the wash basin, fill it with cold water.
  2. Add diapers, agitate for a couple of minutes, and let sit.
  3. Wring out diapers and place them in a clean bucket.

How to Dry Cloth Diapers After Hand Washing

how to dry cloth diapers after hand washing

After you’ve performed your preferred method of washing cloth diapers by hand, it’s now time to dry your cloth diapers.

Since this blog is all about how to hand wash cloth diapers without using any facilities, your options for drying cloth diapers will be either to hang/line dry or lay flat - or maybe a bit of both.

Choose whatever works best for you.

If you can't dry your cloth diapers outside, try using a wooden drying rack inside, or consider hanging clothes out on a porch.

The great news is line/air drying cloth diapers are not only good for the environment but can help extend the life of your cloth diapers - especially the closures and elastics.

If possible, consider sunning your diapers, even in cold weather.

The sun kills bacteria and helps remove stains naturally.

Finally, don't worry if your cloth diapers come off the line stiff as boards, once they warm up they will soften.

Tips and Tricks On Washing Cloth Diapers By Hand

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Tip #1

It’s important to rinse cloth diapers immediately after being soiled and to presoak before washing to prevent stains from setting. (Here’s an extra tip: consider using your child's used bathwater to pre-soak your cloth diapers before washing.)

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Tip #2

Prefolds, flats, and covers are the easiest types of cloth diapers to hand wash and tend to dry quicker than other cloth diapers such as the All in One’s or Pocket diapers.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Tip #3

When it comes to detergent, less is more. So be sure to adjust the amount of detergent you are using for each wash accordingly. Using too much detergent during a wash will make it difficult for you to rinse off.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Tip #4

Looking for whitening power? Adding 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash will help with that.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Tip #5

Washing cloth diapers by hand will be less overwhelming if you set up an everyday or every other day wash routine. Smaller loads are easier to get clean.

In Conclusion

I have now shared with you a few good methods and many great reasons and situations for washing cloth diapers by hand.

If you have any questions or have any further information, tips, and tricks that you’d like to share, be sure to stop over at Nicki’s Diapers Facebook Group.

Convinced that cloth diapers and washing cloth diapers by hand are for you?

Click here to check out the best cloth diapers now!

Search