Cloth diapering in an apartment or high-rise development can seem like a nightmare in the constant fight for space. There are challenges to overcome when using reusable diapers full-time but there are countless families who make it work daily.
This ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know. From routine, to laundry, and drying; we want to help you succeed and enjoy your journey with cloth diapers.
This is the essential first step when considering using reusable diapers with your little one. If you’ve researched cloth diapers, you’re sure to see pages claiming the best wash routines or personalized wash routines for your washing machine, and similar articles. Wash routines should be simple and effective, not complicated. Washing is one of the most important parts of cloth diapering as it maintains the hygienic properties of the diapers. If this ends up feeling like a tedious process, it is likely your baby will be in disposables by the time they celebrate their first birthday as you’ll feel bogged down by it.
Whether you lease or own, please take time to ensure you know what amenities the apartment or development offers and if there is a charge for each use or conditions attached to the use of such a facility. Often, lease policies state portable washer/dryers are not allowed, and many parents consider these the perfect option in a small residence.
You will need to determine which washing and drying system you will use. Common options are an in-unit washer/dryer, a shared communal laundry facility, a local laundry service, a compact and portable washer/dryer, handwashing and line-drying, or a dedicated diaper service that will launder your dirty diapers.
Research Available Amenities
Assuming you are planning a move or have your eye on an apartment, try to acquire one that has in-unit washing machines and dryers. They reduce most of the stress associated with cloth diapering. You won’t have to share the machines with others, wait for a turn to use them, or even be restricted to certain products that you can use in the machines. These units will eliminate the most difficult (though not insurmountable) challenge of full-time cloth diapering in an apartment or high-rise.
If you are considering using a shared laundry facility, make sure the apartment complex has one available and please ensure that there are no exclusions against washing cloth diapers in the agreed lease policy.
Your Options for Apartment Laundering and Drying
The most common and the easiest solution for cloth diapering in an apartment is to rent or purchase a unit that already has the washing machine and/or dryer installed for you. This the ultimate convenience and peace of mind. You are in complete control of when you wash and dry, what products you use to wash the clothes and diapers, and what cycles you can run.
Shared Laundry Facility
It is possible to cloth diaper in an apartment even if your only laundering option is to use a shared laundry facility, usually a basement section that has dedicated washing machine and dryers. We encourage you to consider the cost of using these facilities as they are typically coin-operated. You will know how often you’ll need to wash your diapers (as a guide twice weekly is considered the norm). You’ll need to calculate the monthly expense of laundering your diaper stash and directly compare this cost to that of using disposable diapers.
If you decide to use the shared apartment laundry facilities here are a few tricks to make it easier:
- Consider using Bayrli flats or prefolds because these types of diapers have been designed to wash quickly and dry efficiently. As a rough guide, the more layers within the diaper, the harder it will be to get a deep clean, and as a direct result, the longer it will take to dry.
- When your baby poops in their cloth diaper try to get as much of the solids off and into the toilet as quickly as possible. A cloth diaper or bidet sprayer works great for this, and such a device is becoming more prevalent in apartment settings.
- Using diaper liners can also help if you don’t have a sprayer as they are made to catch most of the solids and you can launder them with your diapers.
Unable to avail of any of the above options or simply detest laundry? One of the best considerations for you is to simply avoid laundering them on your own! A cloth diaper laundry service will do this for you. Unfortunately, these dedicated services are not available in all locations, so you’ll need to research and see if there is a local cloth diaper service near you before you take the plunge.
These services work in one of two ways. Either they collect your stash from you, clean and dry them, and deliver them back to you. Or you sign up and decide which type of cloth diapers you want to use. Your options will vary depending on supply levels and local stock. Some companies offer prefolds and flats only, while others may have many types to choose from, such as all-in-ones and pocket diapers. You will have to research what will be provided in the package you choose and ensure it fits your lifestyle and budget.
Most of these diaper services will deliver clean and sanitized cloth diapers to your front door. They’ll provide enough diapers to get you by without worry until they return to collect the soiled diapers. This is typically once or twice per week.
Prices for such a service will fluctuate dependent on where you live. Expect to pay $15-$25 per week.
Portable Washing Machines & Dryers
This slim and useful innovation makes life so much easier for parents who have limited options but desire the flexibility of laundering on their own schedule. Portable washing machines will usually come with two hoses. One hose is to fill the drum with water and the other hose is for draining the water out of the drum. The hose that fills the washer will attach to a faucet or showerhead with an adapter. The hose that drains the soiled water is placed inside of a bathtub, sink or toilet. It needs to be seen to be believed, but it is an incredible option for many and can work wonders.
Tried and trusted. For most, the thought of hand-washing soiled diapers isn’t an option that would even be entertained. And for some, it is the only option between significant money and eco savings and using disposable diapers.
Here is the easiest way to do it:
Known as the ‘Bucket & Plunger Method’ it is one of the cheapest and most popular ways to hand-wash cloth diapers. Many of our customers insist on this method. You can use almost any tub or container to do this, the larger the better. You can also use a bathtub or a sink.
We strongly advise you purchase a new plunger to use exclusively for agitating the diapers. Handheld is not recommended due to the direct contact with detergents and associated chemicals. Gloves, while optional, are encouraged.
- Put your baby’s soiled diapers into your vessel of choice and fill it up with warm water. Allow this submerged load to soak in warm water for 30 minutes. This pre-soak ensures it is an easier task to get the diapers clean in the next step.
- After the dirty diapers have soaked, dump the dirty water out of the container. Now it’s time to add your detergent of choice. Start with a small amount as it may be all you need. Of course, if you find the diapers are still dirty you can increase the amount of detergent you use. You’ll know how much you need after just a few goes. Fill your container up again with warm water and then begin agitating the load. Agitate the dirty cloth diapers for several minutes.
- Empty the soapy water and then fill the container back up with warm water to begin your rinsing process. Once your vessel is full of clean warm water you can begin to agitate again. You may need to repeat this rinse step several times until there are no suds left in the water.
- After the load has been thoroughly rinsed, empty as much water as you can and then gently wring and squish the water out of each diaper. Try to be gentle on the elastics so that they don’t get stretched out too much.
And that’s it! Now your cloth diapers should be clean.
How Do I Dry Cloth Diapers in an Apartment?
If you have a dryer or use a laundry service, you’re all set. If not, line-drying cloth diapers is easy if you live where you have a clothesline or a small balcony.
Consider purchasing a sturdy folding drying rack. These racks, especially common in Europe, are a superb option for an apartment setting. They fold down and can be stored virtually anywhere. They are also lightweight so you can move them around or easily set them outside on your porch for sunning stains and disinfecting diapers.