Sunday, July 20, 2008

Washing diapers: an apartment dilemma

I am committed to diapering our babies in cloth. It's more economical and environmentally friendly. But my decision (made long before I was even married) poses a particular problem for David and I in our current situation: we don't own a washer and dryer. Our apartment doesn't even have the hookups. We currently cart our laundry down to one of the facilities in our complex every week or two and run several loads at once. It's not ideal, but we make do.

Cloth diapers, however, need to be washed often and in a particular way. I can only imagine it would not be easy to take my baby and my diapers down to the laundry room every three days. And the available washers offer very few settings, which do not include pre-rinses or post-rinses. That will not do for diapers.

David and I will not be moving into a house before the baby comes (unless some amazing opportunity presents itself), and we'd rather not move apartments (to one with washer & dryer) only to move again less than a year later (God-willing). So we're left pondering a few options:

1) Rent a washer and dryer unit with hoses that run to the kitchen sink. These are available for $40 per month. Our electricity and water bills would also increase but we'd have the convenience of doing all our laundry at home.

2) Use a diaper service that rents cloth diapers and picks them up weekly for laundering. This would cost approximately $60 per month. I'd still have to do all my other laundry the old way.

3) Purchase a portable pressure washing machine such as the Wonder Wash ($50-60 one-time cost depending on shipping) and hand-crank the diapers at home (while continuing to do most of the laundry in the laundry facilities).

What do you think? Is the Wonder Wash silly or ingenious? Anyone ever been in a similar situation? Have any other ideas?

Speaking of cloth diapers - check out this fabulous giveaway: Win a Bum Genius 3.0 Starter Kit from Nature's Child - Wholesome Goods for Mothers and Babies. Thanks, Melissa!

Photo credit: Dazed81


Melissa said...

Hmmm, I for one think that Wonder Wash looks amazing! Should I be embarrassed that I had never even heard of such a thing?! I HAVE a washer and dryer, and I'd still be interested in having one of those just for diapers! Seems very economical. I'm interested to hear what others have to say!

P.S. Good luck with the giveaway! :)

Lillian said...

When my dh was in grad school, we lived in student housing for a while with no washer and dryer. I was committed to cloth diapers and had no problem taking them down to the apartment laundry mat. This is what I did:

1) Put baby in sling. Put basket/diaper container on stroller and wheel down to laundry mat.

2) Take out diaper pail and put baby in stroller.

3) Load diapers. Go home. Come back later to toss in dryer. Come back later to take home.

I will say that I liked washing them in industrial washers. I think its much cheaper to just wash them at the laundry mat than to have a diaper service. Also, as baby gets bigger, they enjoy walking with you. Sometimes I would stay and read books (as she got older) or play at the park next door.

Try it first. You can always decide its not working. But I think diaper services are too expensive. Just my $.02.


Oh, almost forgot! You could always wash in the evenings and leave baby with hubby. You would just be running down to load. I'm assuming you live within walking distance of laudry facilities, btw.

Frances said...


Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Your suggestion is definitely worth considering. The laundry room is a mere 100 yards from our apartment door, but there are lots of stairs (we live on the second floor) and a paving stone pathway that would make a stroller impossible. Hmmm. But you used the regular cycle and your diapers cleaned well?

David will definitely be a big help to me with laundry - he actually does the majority of it right now. And his nursing schedule will have him home some days during the week, so he can tackle it then.

It IS worth trying what we've got first - I'd prefer not to spend the extra money.

Thanks again!


WOOD said...

Don't know if this makes the decision easier or harder... but at least for us, we had a lot more laundry in general after baby was born. Due to lots of spit-ups, diaper leaks, what have you, we were washing lots of towels, as well as baby clothes and our clothes! I'm not sure if all new parents have this experience, but we were certainly surprised at how much we were washing!

Crystal said...

HI! Beth mentioned your blog to me and that you had questions on laundering the diapers in your apartment. I would certainly work with what you have first and then if that just doesn't seem to be working as well as you think it should, move onto the next option of renting one for in your apartment.

Personally I wouldn't recommend the Wonder Wash for cloth diapers. You have to make sure all of the soapy residue comes out of the diapers so they don't start to repel the urine. That is not fun and then you have to take an extra amount of time to strip the diapers later. That process can get long sometimes. Just overall not a good way to go, IMHO! :-)

I have never tried a cloth diaper service but have always heard wonderful things about them. I have never heard anybody say that they were horrible and not worth it for the times they needed it.

But definitely go with the washer/dryer that you have available to you. Here is a good site for basic washing:

Good luck with the diapers! They are so much fun!!! :-)