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No Washer, No Problem :: Washing Cloth Diapers without Insuite Laundry

For many urbanites, apartment dwelling involves a shared laundry room, coin operated machines, and designated time slots for using the washers and dryers. Can families really still manage cloth diapering in these circumstances? The answer is a resounding “yes, oh YES!”

Dealing with cloth diapers outside of one’s own suite may seem like a nuisance, not to mention expensive when you’re shelling out coins in hand. In reality, it’s quite easy and the cost is usually comparable, if not less, than paying for the extra energy usage on your monthly utility bill.

Here are four tips for using cloth when you don’t have insuite laundry:

Choose cloth diapers that unfold or come apart to wash easily and dry quickly. Pockets, prefolds and flats are great options for this. If you use fitteds or all-in-one’s, choose ones that have multiple, separated layers for ease of washing and drying.

Sign up for time slots or make your schedule to allow you to wash every two or three days. If you can’t get three slots a week, try to sign up for two slots that are 3 ½ days apart, such as a Monday evening and a Friday morning.

Consider line drying. Since most laundry-room machines are coin operated, line drying will certainly save you $$$. If you’ve got the room either in your suite or in your building’s laundry room, give it go. Inexpensive drying racks can be found at Ikea or any hardware store or mass merchandiser.

Do a short cold wash cycle first or choose your own rinse. The fact that many coin-op machines can’t do an isolated rinse cycle adds unwanted cost and time to the washing process. If you prefer to avoid this cost, consider two cheaper and faster ways of rinsing your diapers (and of course, as always, it is preferable that you knocked off all solids into the toilet at the time you changed the diaper!):

In the diaper pail – Place the diaper pail in a large laundry sink or bathtub. Fill with cold water and swish with a stick. Pour out as much water as you can, then dump all the contents into the washer and start your normal hot wash. This method requires a strong back, but try it with the ever popular Planet Wise Pail liners and keep the diaper contained while washing to ensure you never have to touch the dirty diapers!

In a laundry sink – Dump the dirty diapers from your pail into a large laundry sink, fill with cold water, and agitate them with a stick or with your hands. Drain the water from the sink, pressing on the diapers as the water empties. Toss the diapers directly from the sink into the washer and wash on hot with detergent. Presto change-o, you’re done!

With a bit of planning and some considerations about how to save even more money with cloth diapers, laundering in a shared laundry or a coin-op laundry is definitely do-able.

Are you are a “no in-suite cloth diapering family”?  What is your best strategy for making it work for your family?