Cloth Diaper Apartment Washing

The Gemini Mama cloth diaper series

This post is a part of the cloth diaper series that I have created in an effort to generate awareness for cloth diapering today.


For a large group of parents it is hard to say “yes” to cloth because of the necessary laundering. Lot’s of apartments do not have washers and dryers in the unit, which leaves you heading to a laundry mat, or on site facility. All those people telling you to do extra rinse this, and soak that, leave you scratching your head. Your likely thinking that they all own their own home, and don’t go to a laundry facility. You could be right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cloth diaper. It also doesn’t mean you have to turn your bathroom into a washing station either.


A few things that you should know before I get started on easy apartment washing. We chose to use prefolds as our diaper style of choice. They are affordable, and easy to clean. Prefolds also happen to be made from natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and hemp so they tend to not hold onto anything and wash clean. Synthetic fibers like microfiber my not be as easy to clean and it is possible that these washing instructions might need to be modified some to suit your diapers. We did have a few pocket diapers and a few all in ones in our stash, but there were either overnight or on the go diapers, not all day use. I did not have a problem with those diapers coming clean.


How to wash cloth diapers in a laundry mat


Living on the second floor in an apartment complex with a new baby meant that I had to carry her up and down the stairs in addition to everything else to do laundry. We kept our dirty diapers in a wet bag, and never used a wet pail. I am very thankful for this now, because I would never have been able to carry that up and down stairs to do laundry. Just something you might want to consider.


This is very simple you might be surprised. These instructions are for top load washing machines only.


  • Load all dirty diapers into the washer
  • Do one large cold water wash with no detergent
  • After wash is complete do a second wash with hot water and use 1/4 amount of detergent for large load
  • Remove clean diapers from the washer
  • Dry diapers


Seriously that is it. That is all I did for 15 months while living in an apartment where I used a laundry facility. I had to put quarters into a machine and all.


A few notes, if your laundry mat is fancy and you have the option you can choose hot wash/cold rinse for your second wash. My facility did not have that option, so don’t worry.


About drying. Our apartment had a 5’x5′ sunroom where we stuffed everything we weren’t using, from bikes to snorkel equipment. When a diaper looked “stained” after washing I would hang it from something in that room so that it could “sun” which bleaches out the stains. I bought a rack like this Folding Clothes Drying Rack, White after we moved, and I wish I had it sooner. It is compact enough that it would have fit out on our door step, and holds a full load of diapers for one child. I would have saved a lot of dollars spent on dryer diapers if I had this sooner.


You can put prefold diapers into the dryer. Actually sometimes I prefer the way they come out of the diaper because they are softer and fluffier. When you hang them to dry they are a bit crunchier, but this makes them easier to fold. Anyhow, when I used the laundry facility dryer I found that it took about two cycles for the prefold to be fully dry. I always hung up my covers to dry. The PUL of your covers does not want to go into the dryer as often as your prefolds, just an FYI.


Lastly, I am not an expert. This is what I did and what worked for me. You can always check with a Real Diaper Circle near you to see what their recommended washing instructions are. Also water is different from location to location, so what works here might not work there. Keep that in mind as you are reading suggestions from different people around the web.


Do you have experience washing diapers in a laundry mat? Did it work out well for you, or were there challenges? 

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2 Responses to 'Cloth Diaper Apartment Washing'

  1. I chose not to cloth diaper because it always seemed like a hassle. I remembered the old days when you had the stinky diaper pail and used those huge baby pins. (Im not that old but I remember watching my grandmother use this process on a few kids that she baby sit when I was a child).

    • Gwen says:

      Cloth diapering is not for everyone, but I would say that it is certainly much less hassle now than it was in the past. My mother in law can remember her mother boiling her diapers, something I have never done. Also if it was that difficult, it would not have been for me.

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