Friday, July 6, 2012

Cloth Diapering Away From Home, Without Laundry Facilities

Yes, it’s doable!

Here was our situation: Family trip (as in, us with DH’s parents and sibs). Cruise ship. No laundry facilities. (Obviously I did not choose the ship.) Genna was getting potty trained, but not usually away from home, and with a tendency to wait to tell us she needs to pee when she had approx. 8 seconds to get to the toilet.

We decided to take flat diapers, since they would wash the easiest and dry the fastest,  not to mention that they pack so compactly. I also took several pairs of training pants because those would be easier on the travel days than trying to deal with a diaper and cover in the airplane bathroom. We also decided that we would throw away any poopy diapers, rather than trying to get them clean by hand washing in water of unknown temperature. (I wasn’t sure how hot the water on the boat would get.) I packed enough diapers for two days of full-time diapering, in addition to wipes and a few covers.

I hand-washed wet diapers and training pants in the sink in our bathroom – one at a time – every time we had one in need of washing. I rinsed them out under running cold water, then let them soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes before agitating with my hands for several minutes. I rinsed in hot water, then cold water, until I didn’t see any more bubbles. We hung them to dry using clothes pins and skirt hangers. The bathroom was too humid, so I actually hung them out on our cabin’s deck. Our cabin mates (my MIL, FIL, MIL’s aunt, and MIL’s friend) were not super impressed by this, but *shrug.*

There were a few days when we had oily soot from the ship’s smokestacks covering everything on the deck, and on those days, I hung diapers in the closet or in front of the window from the curtain rod. I brought clothesline, but was reluctant to just string it up somewhere.
Dipes drying on the deck

This system worked well for us. Flats are not hard to wash by hand, they rinse clean fairly easily, and they dry fast. PUL covers are trim and also easy-care.

I used flats that I made from birdseye fabric, and we used some liquid laundry soap that I had sitting around the laundry room from our last trip last summer. It was probably Costco brand.

Yes, we could have just switched to disposables. but I didn’t want to. (And Genna got a horrible rash the one time she wore a disposable.) Had we been using disposables, I would have had to devote a lot more suitcase room to diapers, since I would have needed to pack enough to last the whole 12 days we were gone. And I would have had to worry about running out! And I’m honestly not sure what I would have done with them on the ship. They don’t have plastic liner bags in the garbage cans, and I wouldn’t have wanted to smell dirty disposable diapers all day, either.

As it turns out, using cloth was not a big deal. It didn’t take up much time. It was no more effort than using cloth at home. It was not a big deal.

Written by Sarah Reid, of Wallypop and Boulevard Designs


  1. You can make cloth diapers even greener than they are by using biodegradable, phosphate-free detergents; a cold-water cycle and air drying; and washing the diapers in a full load as to not waste water.


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