Monday, February 11, 2013

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No Washer, No Dryer, No Problem!

I never set out to hand wash. When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was determined to cloth diaper not only to save money but I knew how horrible disposables were for my child as well as the environment. Shortly after becoming pregnant, I moved into a small apartment with two washers and two dryers located in the building across the parking lot. I was still determined to cloth, but started to doubt my ability to keep up with the laundry, as well as taking into account the cost of the machines. Diaper services seemed like an option but I still felt I was defeating my purpose of saving money. In fact, when I looked up the cost of diapers versus the cost of the diaper service, it was so close that I decided to use disposables.

Fast forward four months and my husband had lost his job, so I decided to take a look at cloth again. People at some point in our history were without disposables and washing machines, so what did they do? I was determined to find a way to switch to cloth! After looking around the web and coming across some information on the 7 Day Hand Washing Challenge, I decided to dive in head first and exclusively hand wash my diapers. I was so gung ho and excited to say I was making it work despite the obstacles in front of me. So here I am, 6 months later and still going strong. It struck me recently about how difficult it was for me to find information and support from other hand washing mamas, so here is my routine.

The Diapers: I initially went into my local fluff store and asked what is cheap and easy? I was directed to Osocozy prefolds and Thristies covers. I later acquired a few EconoBum covers as well. These are the only diapers I have used, so I can only speak on hand washing those, but I am sure any prefold and cover would be just as simple. Side note- Since I had to prep the prefolds with no washer and dryer, I boiled them in a soup pot for 30 to 40 minutes and never had issues with repelling or absorbency. I have 9 covers, and 18 prefolds total.

The Detergent: I have only used Rockin Green, but so far I have had no problems so I say; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I did switch to Hard Rock after realizing we had hard water, but I have yet to see a major difference.

The Equipment: I literally said to my husband, “Go to Home Depot and get me a 5 gallon bucket and a sturdy plunger with a longer handle.” I have seen women who have drilled holes into their plungers to help the water move through, which I think is a great idea. I have not been able to do that and I think it works just fine. I also have enough extra baby hangers to hang everything on to dry.

The Routine: My wash bucket also serves as my diaper pail, so after a change, the diaper gets rinsed off in the sink or toilet depending on the severity and thrown in the pail. I try to wash every day, the smaller the load the better. I dump the bucket, put the detergent in and fill it up with very hot water. I add in the dirty diapers and start to agitate with the plunger. I do it for 5-10 minutes, dump and fill again with hot water and agitate for another 5 minutes. If they are really dirty I will do another hot cycle, otherwise I do luke warm water, agitate 3-5 minutes, dump and repeat 2-4 times, depending on how sudsy the water is. When they seem good and rinsed, I hand rinse and wring out each item separately and hang to dry over the bath tub. Sometimes a fan will speed up the process but I think it makes the prefolds a little stiff.

I think clothing diapering without a washer and dryer is completely do-able. Don’t feel discouraged if your situation is not ideal. I am very happy that I decided to find a way to save money when we really needed it. It takes time and effort, but it can be done!

Bio: Ashley Focht lives outside of Chicago with her wonderful husband, 9 month old son, and two cats. She loves being a stay at home mom and spreading the word about cloth diapering!

12 comments:

mkibrick said...

For hanging diapers to dry, I found I could use the flat (space-saver) hangers with clothes pins on them. I hang flats between 2 hangers and put 4-5 on each set.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your hard work, although I think this would be a little hard to commit to for moms who work outside the home.

Still - good for you!!!!

Blogs From a Single Mom said...

This is so inspirational. It goes to show that anyone can cloth diaper.

Laura Noelle said...

I am so so so happy to see this post! I've been doing a lot of research on cloth diapering and all that I have seen says "no washer, no way". This is the first bit of hope that makes me feel like this is a viable option for me. Thank you so much!

Ashley Focht said...

Yes Laura it is hard but you can do it! I recommend going with natural fibers and prefolds/covers. That is the simplest and easiest to clean! Good Luck!

Ginger Williams said...

how much detergent did you use? washing everyday and making the loads smaller would mean less detergent right?

Ginger Williams said...

how much detergent did you use? smaller loads mean less detergent right? BTW this article took forever to find! thank you for posting it! Apartment dwellers everywhere are forever indebted to you!

Krystal Stettner said...

I'm in Chicago! So great to hear this; you're a life saver!

Krystal Stettner said...

I'm n Chicago! This is great; you're a life saver!

Kimberly said...

Another tip: If you are able to spend a little more money, you can buy a counter-top clothing spinner to wring them out. Then you can hang them any where without worrying about them dripping. I love mine! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see you prepped your diapers by boiling as it's something I've considered. I have a washer but no dryer, and I've heard that while prepping you should always use a dryer to quilt the diapers up. I was thinking about boiling for 10-15 minutes then throwing in the washer for a long hot cycle, hanging to dry, then running what I hope will be my normal wash cycle to complete prepping. I also feel like I won't have to worry about absorbency since a newborn won't pee too much at a time, and by the time their bladder is bigger the diapers will have been washed enough times to be fully absorbent. Thanks for your story!

Amy Rose said...

I'm so happy to have found this post! I have a one month old and we are also without a regular washer/dryer, but did buy a small compact 2-in-1 washer/spin dryer just for diapers. I bought the flip covers and a few econobum prefolds to test out. How do you handle the stiffness of the line dried prefolds? Do you use vinegar or anything else to help soften them? I'm kind of discouraged at how stiff the cotton prefolds dry, but if you are using them on your little one without problems then that gives me hope! : )