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What can a family do if they want to use cloth diapers but do not have access to a washing machine? In this article, we discuss washing cloth at the laundromat or in a shared laundry facility and talk about alternative diaper laundry options.

Laundromat Diaper Laundry

For some families, the best option might be using a shared laundry facility or taking their diaper laundry to the laundromat. While lugging your diapers across town isn’t ideal it can be done. Many families who wash their diapers in shared machines opt to prewash their diapers by hand at home. This cuts down on the number of laundry cycles you have to pay for. If you rinse and wring out your diapers thoroughly it’ll also buy you some more time between wash days.

When washing your cloth diapers at the laundromat you might want to do a load of clothes in the washer before using it for cloth diapers as you do not know what detergent and softeners were previously used in a machine at the laundromat. Be sure to select the longest cycle with the strongest agitation for your hot wash. Do not dry your diapers in a laundromat dryer as hot temperatures can damage the diapers’ waterproofing and ruin elastics.

Why Consider Alternatives Over the Laundromat

There are some things to consider before committing in the laundromat life for your cloth diapers. First, doing laundry in a shared facility can get quite expensive. Next, there are many factors that you cannot control in a shared facility, which can be hard on your diapers. For example, you cannot control how HOT the hot cycles are and cloth diapers should not be washed in water hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit because it will compromise the diapers’ TPU and ruin elastics. If anyone in your family has allergies washing in a shared facility might not be a good idea because you have no control over what detergents or fabric softeners have been used in the machines. Additionally, residue left in shared washers can cause build up in your cloth. All this to say, if you do not have access to in-unit laundry where you live considering these alternative diaper laundry options is definitely worth it.

What To Do Instead

Remember anyone can cloth diaper anywhere. Families were washing diapers LONG before the invention of the disposable diaper and before the dawn of washing machines for that matter! Educating consumers about all the options can help make cloth diapering accessible to more families so let’s start with the least expensive option, handwashing.


Handwashing cloth diapers is not as daunting as you may think. In fact, many families who handwash their diapers actually like it! One way to handwash is to use a bucket or the bathtub as a water basin and a plunger for agitation. Thirsites Groupie @blake_humphrey on Instagram uses a washboard in the kitchen sink. She recommends folks, “make sure the sink is clean, rinse everything, wash on washboard and rinse. It holds a day worths nicely!” To get diapers clean all you need is hot water, detergent, and agitation. While there are different ways to handwash they all use these elements to get diapers clean.

The Wonder Wash

The WonderWash® is a hand-cranked, pressurized portable washing machine. Our social media gal, Laura, used the WonderWash® to clean her cloth diapers while living in an apartment. The WonderWash® is fast and effective and at $60 it is a great option for families who do not have access to an in-unit washing machine. You can watch Laura demonstrate handwashing with a plunger and with the Wonder Wash here.

Another alternative diaper laundry option is an electric portable washer. Several of our Thirsties Groupies love using these for their diaper laundry. Electric portable washers do not take up much space and do not require laundry hookups. Here are two models that our customers have used and recommend: Best Choice Products Portable Compact Twin Tub Laundry Machine & Spin Cycle w/Hose – available on Amazon and Walmart (Price vary depending on capacity size 8lbs $99); Panda 1.54cu.ft Compact Portable Washing Machine – Available at Walmart and on Amazon ($254). As you can see these machines can be expensive but if your family prioritizes space and convenience over cost a portable electric washer can be a great option.

Thirsties Groupie, Stayce, says, “I honestly love portable washers for diaper laundry. I find it cleans way better than regular washers I’ve tried. You can customize the loads better and have smaller loads!”

What is a family to do if they want to use cloth but do not have access to a washer at home? Now you know three options that don’t entail folks needing to air out their dirty laundry at the laundromat. We hope that this article helps families understand that when it comes to cloth diapering there are so many options and that includes laundry options.

Have you done diaper laundry at the laundromat or used one of these alternative laundry options? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

We are feeling quite fishy this season! If you’re looking for something bright and summery to kick-start the season, Fish Tales is for you! Ultra-bright fish that pop right off the black background are paired with a beautiful, deep teal binding. Fish Tales is limited edition print in Duo Wrap (two sizes in hook & loop, three in snap), Natural Newborn All in One, Natural One Size All in One, Newborn All in One, One Size All in One, Natural Pocket Diaper, Pocket Diaper, regular lineup Swim Diaper (three sizes), Clutch Bag, Mini Wet Bag, Wet Dry Bag, and regular lineup Wet Bag.

At Thirsties we always say diaper laundry does not have to be complicated: -Prewash on warm -Wash on hot -Add another rinse. However, during your cloth diapering journey, you may need to tweak things within your wash routine like load size, water level, detergent, amount of detergent etc. Here is a list of signs that indicate you need to tweak your wash routine as well as the possible causes behind them.

signs you need to tweak your diaper wash routine

Sign: Diapers stink after coming out of the dryer.

Potential Causes:

Diapers did not get clean enough.

  • not enough agitation
  • not enough water
  • not enough detergent

You need to clean your washing machine.

Groupies’ Experiences:

“I had to add in a towel to improve agitation. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t coming out super clean, came to the groupies and looked through old posts and found that suggestion – works great!” -Krista C.

“I had to switch to a stronger detergent in our prewash. We never had major issues, but sometimes things didn’t smell 100% fresh. Once I made that change and used a longer main wash cycle, things come out so so clean, and I don’t get a faceful of ammonia smell between the prewash and the main wash.” -Svetlana N.

Sign: Diapers stink when freshly peed in.

Potential Causes:

Ammonia buildup

  • Hard water (180ppm or higher requires softener)
  • Not enough detergent
  • Not enough water
  • Nighttime diapers need rinsing

Too many diapers in wash loads.

Groupies’ Experiences:

“I suspected something was off (They started to have on off smell when the babies would wet their diapers) so I had to interrogate my husband to find out that he had been leaving off the extra rinse! On purpose! Because “it seemed long enough without it.” Trust no man with your wash routine, ladies. 😂” -Kayla R

“Once kiddos became about 9 months I had to begin rinsing night diapers to avoid ammonia build-up. And again when they began to potty train and use less diapers I had to tweak my routine.” -Ashlea F.

“I had to add more detergent to my prewash when my baby became a toddler 😭 I was getting ammonia stink.” -Katie D.

Sign: Fast developing edge wear

Potential Causes:

Too many diapers in a load

Not enough diapers to rotate use between.

Washer’s spin speed is too fast.

Groupies’ Experience:

“I was getting crazy edgewear and realized that I was putting too many diapers in my top-loading washer(old school with an agitator). I could tell it was too many because the pocket inserts wouldn’t agitate out and my prefolds would come out all twisted.” Mackenzie W.

Sign: Change in location, Change in your washing machine

Potential Causes:

Different water hardness / softness

Different water levels

Different agitation mechanism

Groupies’ Experiences:

“I’m in the process of completely changing my wash routine. We just moved from pretty soft water to a place with really hard water. It is crazy what a difference water hardness makes. Still tweaking here and there but I had to change the detergent and the amount I was using, adding water softener, and eliminating the extra rinse at the end that was needed for softer water.”  – Kim G.

“We moved from a house with an HE washer to one with a standard washer. I figured out after a few loads of stinky diapers coming out of the dryer that I need to use more detergent since I didn’t have an HE washer anymore. (I actually like this washer better than the HE now that I figured that out! – Kelli D.

Sign: Rashes, Irritation, Red marks that don’t go away on legs or pressure points where diaper hits

Potential Cause(s): These issues could be a factor if you have ruled out potential fit problems.

Detergent Sensitivity

Ammonia Build Up

Detergent Build-Up (Check if there are a lot of suds in the final rinse cycle)

Groupies’ Experiences:

“My kids have detergent sensitivity. They get red splotchy rashes in their diaper area. We actually had our doctor check it at one point to make sure that was the cause.” -Danielle W.

“After following bad wash routine advice (not Thirsties), too much Tide caused a chemical burn. It looked almost like a sunburn but instead of flaking off the skin peels off and is a big open sore where the diaper touched.” -Cheyenne S.

Remember there is a solution to every bump in the road on your cloth diapering journey. Thank you to all the Thirsties Groupies who shared their cloth diapering experiences with needing to tweak their wash routines. Remember, we are always here to help troubleshoot your wash routine so feel free to contact us at

Happy Women’s Month! Did you know that Thirsties was started by a cloth diapering mom? Stay tuned to hear more about that on Thirsties blog, but first, let us tell you about a giveaway that we’re doing with ezpz, another family-owned company started by another entrepreneurial mom, Lindsey Laurain.

“We (ezpz) create developmentally-focused products that make mealtime less about mess and more about fun. Each product is tailored towards a specific age group and usage occasion, and the mat’s stable base helps baby/toddler to self-feed and meet key developmental milestones. We aspire for family mealtime to be a HAPPY, positive experience where memories are made!”

Lindsey and ezpz’s feeding specialist, Dawn, are passionate about helping little eaters and their families. Eating continuity can be key to fostering positive eating habits for some little eaters. ezpz’s First Food’s Set is perfect for little hands. Pairing these little dishes with Thirsties Simply Sustainable Collection makes bringing your little one’s favorite dishes and favorite snacks on the go!

Click the giveaway below and enter to win this amazing prize pack from ezpz and Thirsties!
– @ezpz First Foods Set in Pewter
– @Thirsties “winner’s choice” wet bag, wet/dry bag, mini, clutch and sandwich bag
– The winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday, 4/30
– Open to US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The #ThirstiesFallFlatLay Challenged encouraged Thirsties customers to get creative composing flat lays, pairing their favorite Thirsties products with items that spoke to them. A flat lay is a picture or video taken from a birds-eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface. Throughout the fall season #ThirstiesGroupies captured and shared images and videos using the hashtag #ThirstiesFallFlatLay and in this article, we are happy to announce the challenge finalists!

Image by @fiddlinbarefoot on Instagram
Click here to watch this video by @minnicoops on Instagram
Image by Normalize Cloth on Facebook
Image by @macknzwood on Instagram
Image by @crazy4cloth on Instagram
Image by @omgitsbecki on Instagram
Image by @leaaharroyo on Instagram
Image by @ashersclothbum on Instagram
Image by @amanda_bacher on Instagram
Image by @laurenewatson on Instagram
Image by @southern_fluff_love on Instagram
Image by A. McClellan on Facebook

We were blown away by everyone’s entries. There were over 400 on Instagram alone! Having a creative outlet helps us find fun in the familiar and we hope that this is what the #ThirstiesFallFlatLay challenge offered our fabulous customers. Thank you, EVERYONE, for filling our social media feed with Thirsties goodness! We will announce the five prize winners on #ThirstiesLive November 21, 2019. See you then!