Cloth Diapers On the Road

Question: are you crazy to move into a 22 foot motorhome with cloth diapers for two and no washer/dryer?!

Answer: yes

But here’s the plan: First, I am switching to flat diapers in preparation for our newborn-to-be.

flat diaper vrs fitted diaper
Flat diaper, compared to a fitted diaper that we have been using.

I love flat diapers for several reasons:

  • they are super cheap
  • they take up very little room
  • they are a cinch to wash
  • they dry if you look at them hard
  • they are one-size-fits-all
  • they are old-fashioned

It will be easy to wash wet diapers in the sink or at a campground and hang dry them inside of an hour to use again.  In this way, we will not get too desperate for a laundromat.

Both babies will use the same diapers so there will be no need to store them separately.

Storage space will be much less than with fluffy prefolds, fitteds, pockets, or all-in-one diapers.

Many, many flat diapers will fit into the zippered hanging wetbag that will be our diaper pail.

We use only wool covers, which are re-used again and again without washing due to wool’s amazing properties.  When they do need to be washed, I will hand wash them in the sink/a bucket/the tub.

Concerned that I am using a public laundry facility to wash cloth diapers?  I am too, a little.  Baby bottoms are so pure and sensitive, and it is important to me that only clean cotton be used to cover bottoms and genitals–that’s one reason why we cloth diaper in the first place!

So, while I have no worries about the cleanliness of my diaper washing routine (the diapers come out perfectly sanitary and so do the machines), I am used to having my own washer and not having to worry about the cleanliness of the other users!

I plan to use vinegar in each wash as a disinfectant against what might be lurking in the machine.  I will use baking soda as a deodorant in hopes that it will counteract any residual scented detergent.   And I will take comfort in knowing that flat diapers are so thin that they do not hold onto bacteria or chemicals, but wash out very thoroughly.

I will dry on high heat as an extra precaution, nonetheless.  Flat diapers can take that kind of treatment.

Toddler wearing a flat diaper with snappi.
So cute in cloth!
Rear view of the flat diaper.
Rear view of the flat diaper.

19 Replies to “Cloth Diapers On the Road”

  1. This is a very inspiring post. Every morning when I was my daughters cloth diaper out I think I must be the only crazy one to be doing this.
    The only problem is we have Fuzzy Bunz – which I really like – but they take 2 days to really dry.

  2. Your baby is so precious! I personally think that washing with vinegar and baking soda is the best thing that you can do for your family. I’ve been also washing my hair with baking soda and my hair feels even more clean than before when I was using shampoo.
    I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m the one who’s been commenting on your posts who will be going full time in a few months.
    Well, I ordered the rapid washer DIY hand washing machine. Have you read about it? It’s supposed to arrive today and I’m going to experiment with it. Here’s the link http://www.amazon.com/Rapid-Washer-Manual-Washing-Machine/dp/B002QUAPSO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1298579378&sr=8-4
    I just need to go buy a bucket. I’m planning on getting a large bucket with a lid and making a hole on the lid so the water doesn’t splash when I use the rapid washer thingy.

    1. MB, that does look nifty! I had been looking at one of those hand crank washers but we don’t have room for it. The rapid washer looks more effective and simpler, besides being smaller and cheaper! Problem is, now I’m thinking I need a wringer. Probably not so big a deal for flat diapers, but if I end up doing other laundry…

      1. My rapid washer arrived! I’ll tell you if it works as great as I’ve read. About the wringer. I read about different wringers and I haven’t found one that has excellent reviews and that doesn’t damage the clothes. The best thing that I have found, is a “spinner.” It takes very little space and it’s suppose to get all the water out of the clothes without damaging them. It’s a little pricey, but I figured that with the money I save on the “washer” or the money I spend at a laundry mat, I think that it might be a good decision to get this spinner thingy. Here’s the link to one: http://tinyurl.com/4e5fuhf
        if the link doesn’t work, look in amazon for “Centrifugal Clothes Portable Spin Dryer”

        more soon…

      2. The Rapid Washer is great! The instructions say to do one garment, but I did several in one load. I washed my daughters’ clothes and this thing is great! I used my washer’s spin cycle to remove the excess water. If you are planning on using the rapid washer indoors, it would be a good idea to get a lid because water spashes out a little. I washed the clothes on my deck, so I didn’t use the lid. Washing the clothes with the Rapid Washer takes less time than putting the clothes in the washer and I think it removes the dirt better. I sound like a sales representative for the Rapid Washer! ha! I think that this is a keeper! I’m so happy!

  3. Hey, once again, simplest is best! Those are what my mom used when I was a babe, and probably for similar reasons. They had a sistern (so limited water) and my mom has always avoided dryers like the plague, always uses the clothline.

    And, oh, those chubby legs! 🙂

  4. I always loved the flat diapers for my baby bums. And wool covers as well, I’m a sucker for the wool soaker what can I say. I used the snappie clips to hold them on, thought they were much easier than pins. Your adventure sounds so joyous!

  5. I love flat diapers for their versatility! You can dry the dishes, wipe noses, use them for burp cloths, stuff one in my bra if I start to let-down (I don’t need nursing pads this late in the game), use as a light blanket in a pinch and… oh! You could always use them to diaper a bum. 🙂

    I even tie dyed a couple! 😀

  6. Mamma Jorje: yes! I have a few tie-dyed ones too. Just got organic unbleached ones from greenmountaindiapers so I’ll probably leave them pristine 😉

    MB: My birthday is this month and the Rapid Washer and a spinner are on the list I sent to family–thanks for the heads up on those!

    Kimberly: I really liked our fitted dipes, but the laundry convenience is going to win this one!

    1. About the rapid washer and spinner, that’s great! Ok, can we do some brainstorming here about the drying part of the laundry. I want to put the clothes in the spinner and then just hang the clothes to dry. BUT the parks where we’ll be staying don’t allow to hang clothes outside and hanging the clothes to dry inside the RV will cause too much humidity and possible mildew in the RV. There’s a little dryer that might work. Can you tell that I really don’t want to use the laundry facilities at the parks! ha!
      Would this one take too much space? http://www.amazon.com/Haier-HLP140E-5-Cubic-Foot-Compact-Tumble/dp/B000UWGLGU/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1299110857&sr=8-7

      Haier HLP140E 2-3/5-Cubic-Foot Compact Tumble Vented Dryer

      1. I definitely don’t have the dryer option. Fitting a spinner is going to be a major challenge (I found one smaller than the one you linked to). Same with bread machine and crockpot. We’re planning to boondock a lot, so when we’re at a parking lot we won’t have clotheslines, but hopefully we get good at finding national land to camp out on where we can do whatever we want!

      2. Great! Boondocking is my goal! I’m going to put the dryer on hold. I want to see how dry are the clothes when they come out of the spinner. When is your birthday? Let me know if you get the spinner and how you like it!

  7. love this dialog about washing and drying and cloth diapers on the road! we use fuzzi bunz on the road, just keep a small basket in the closet full of them, and use a pillow case in a stainless flip top trash can to contain the wet ones and odor. my baby girl is older and only wears them at nap and nighttime now, but we have been using this system for awhile now and works great! we have used campground laundry facilities, though. but, have been looking for an alternative.

    when doing laundry at a campground we always just use one washer and first do a load of towels with charlie’s soap – http://www.ecowomb.com/charlies-soap/ – which helps clean out the washer itself. then, the boys muddy clothes :-), whatever other clothes for a family of five, and the last load is always diapers with the hope that the washer is pretty cleaned out by then. has worked pretty well for us since we only have to wash diapers about every two weeks. but, i do hate the smell of fabric softener in those places, and i think i pouted the first time that first load came back smelling anything different then pure and clean and unscented. 🙂 thanks for the new ideas on how to wash without any facilities, will be looking into that for sure!

    1. Angela, I hadn’t thought of running our own laundry through the washer before putting in diapers–what a good thought!

      Maybe someone has a suggestion for me about dirty diapers storage. I have a planetwise hanging wet bag which works fine in our house, but when I put it in our tiny RV, the ammonia smell gets out. I don’t think I have room in our 22ft motorhome for a diaper pail. What do I do?

        1. If someone was in a thieving mood, that would sure teach them–haha! We could do this when parked, but we’ll be driving most days too, so I think I need an indoor solution. One zipped wetbag inside a second zipped wetbag?

  8. hi! new to your blog, but oh so happy to find it! just wanted to make a comment about a wetbag for small spaces… my husband, daughter and i lived in a studio apartment until my little one was almost 2. the weehugger wetbags were wonderful! i seriously had no odor escaping at all. we used a combination of diapers (a few flats, some prefolds, mostly kissaluvs… i sometimes rinsed the thicker ones quickly in the sink before putting them into the wetbag but i dont know if this is an option with your facilities?) though next time around with baby 2, i plan to use flats (want to use wool covers, but i am allergic to wool/dogs/cats/etc. sigh!) on occasion, when it was full and i needed to run out, i would just a random drawstring bag (bummis, i think?) with baking soda sprinkled in and a clean wipe with lavender and peppermint oil on it to sort of “mask” the scent. sorry so longwinded… but i do think the weehuggers bag is wonderful.

    1. Hi–thanks for jumping in! I’ll check out the weehuggers, and I might experiment with baking soda, too. I hadn’t thought to put anything in the bag to help with the odor! I’m sure I’ll let you know via the blog what ends up working!

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