Cloth Diapering 101: Going Green Without a Washing Machine

As a provider to a young one; you probably are able to understand why cloth diapering is so important. There are the concerns of chemical laden diapers and let’s not mention financial expenses involved in quality disposable brands. These points are at the forefront of consumers minds; but they certainly aren’t the only reasons parents abroad choose cloth diapers instead of disposable. Even the most practical people choose to wrap their babies bum in the finest cloths for good reason. Truth is giving your child the gift of cloth diapers is profound in today’s world. Life is fast paced and convenience makes the biggest difference in a busy parents life!

Let’s get real about  how exactly a parent who has no washer or dryer in their home can still utilize this method of diapering. Regardless if they have the convenience of walking to the washer/dryer and simply getting it all done with the press of a button. While still upholding cleanliness, convenience, and care. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty science of cloth diapering without that prized washing machine.
If you have a bathtub, a tupperware tote, and the right detergents with a place to hang your diaper you are on the right track! It’ll take some elbow grease; but if your a determined mom or pop you can find a system that works well in your household while eliminating any possible stench from the process.

Cloth Diapering

Vital steps to Successfully Cleaning your Diapers

Dirty diapers are, well, just that – dirty! If you have ever used a cloth diaper before, you know that the smell is the biggest battle before washing. This is where a large tupperware tote comes in handy. The best process — takes the diaper straight from the babies bum to the toilet for a rinse and then into the disinfecting ‘soak bucket’.

Fill a large tupperware tote with borax and essential oils if you would like to; if you opt for oils this is mostly to kill any bad smells; yet, there are very important properties within the essential oils that will assist in killing harmful bacteria. Use the borax as directed per the amount of water you use and about 8-10 drops of essential oils.

A few oils with disinfectant properties are: rosemary, lavender, tea tree, lemon, grapefruit, geranium, clove, peppermint, plus an abundance more. You can mix these as a combo to fight the microbes and stench or you can use individually. Utilize this bucket as the prep and pre-wash for the diapers. That said, don’t leave any diapers sitting more than 48 hours in this bucket and be sure to change the water after every load is soaked.

After the Pre-Wash, What's Next?

From your soak bucket you will transfer your cloth diaper to the main wash – this can be one of two places. You can lug them to the on-site laundry center or your bathtub in substitute of a washing machine. Let’s get into both ways;


Laundry Center: To wash in the laundry center you will need your borax and a fragrance free laundry detergent. It’s always best to stick with a fragrance free detergent due to skin sensitivities plus cloth diapers tend to hold onto chemical fragrances in a way that creates far worse smells in the long run (they’ll usually require stripping or sun bleaching to get rid of).


If your taking them to your on-site laundry center, it’s plain and simple, throw them in the wash and dryer accordingly. If your washing them in the bathtub you will get a bit more in depth than this. You can also alternate between bathtub and laundry center washing if needed.


Bathtub: Prepare your bathtub with a ‘rinse water’ fill by adding a bit of baking soda and white vinegar to this soak – it’s also wise to have a stir stick for the tub wash. Your stir stick can be a wooden object that provides nice leverage to stir around the diapers in the tub creating a the rotating motion of a washing machine. Once you have rotated the diapers as needed simply drain the water. As the water is emptied you can now begin to fill the tub with laundry detergent and borax as needed. Once again, use your stir stick to rotate the clothes. Allow this to soak for at least ten minutes after your “wash” at which point you can drain the water. Finally, use cold water to fill the tub for one last rinse.

Rinse the diaper and use your stick to remove any remaining detergent from your diapers. I suggest letting your diapers sit for about ten minutes again without any water in the tub; this allows all the water to drain off naturally though you will need to do one last ring and squeeze of the diapers before you hang them on your drying rack.


Cloth Diapering

Now for The Drying Rack

It’s usually best to have your drying rack nearby and out of reach from any small kids you have around. Use your hands to ring out any remaining water from your diapers and hang them on your chosen drying rack. It works well to keep the air ventilated near the drying rack for optimal drying time. You will also need to allow yourself enough diapers for baby during the drying cycle. If it’s summer or sunny outside allow your diapers to dry in the sun — this provides the added benefits of sun bleaching. If it is winter or rainy weather you can use a space heater and a fan for optimal circulation during the drying phase.


After all is said and done you can fold and store your cloth diapers accordingly; placing the dirty diapers accumulated in your fresh soaking tote to prepare for the next load. This is the easiest method I have found in my cloth diapering experience. Feel free to implement any methods that you feel is suitable for your own family needs.

Cloth Diapering without Machines is Easily Attainable and Sustainable

Many parents feel that cloth diapering is unattainable if there is no access to a washer and dryer in their immediate household. But truthfully the process can be simple and very easy to manage. The one thing you do not want to do is let your dirtied diapers sit for far too long. This will cause a horrid smell that is nearly impossible to rid so be sure to change your soak water as soon as possible. Additionally, cloth diapers are a great way to ensure your kids have the safest possible experience as to what is on their developing bodies. The best part is that you will save a ton of money over the years.



Writing from Denmark, Daniel Chabert is also an entrepreneur and a father of two adorable kids. He spends most of his time writing reviews.

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