Apartment Green Living: Hand Washing Cloth Diapers

Washing Cloth Diapers in Apartments

My City View

My Story: I’m an apartment-dwelling city girl with a heart to go green. Actually, city living can be very eco-friendly. We’re a single car family and my husband commutes to work on his bike. We often go days without using the car. Being close to many restaurants, stores, and parks encourages us to think, play, and buy local. Additionally, having a smaller place forces us to be intentional about not accumulating unnecessary stuff. Indeed living in the city can be very green!

Yet apartment living also has its drawbacks, namely, we do not have in-unit laundry. Now this wasn’t an issue when it was just my husband and I, but not having a washer and dryer is a major hindrance to going green with a baby. How could I cloth diaper without a washer and dryer in our apartment? While there are many reasons my husband and I chose to cloth diaper, saving money long term was one of our biggest motivators. The idea of paying over $5 to complete one load of diaper laundry and juggling a baby during multiple trips to the laundry room was not going to work! Plus, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of daily plunging my diapers. So we started looking for washing alternatives.

Hand Washing Cloth Diapers WonderWash“Hand” Washing Cloth Diapers: At The Laundry Alternative we found our diaper laundry solution, the WonderWash and Nina Soft Spin Dryer. The WonderWash is a hand-powered washer that can do about five pounds of laundry in one load. It retails for $42.95 and doubles as our washer and dry pail. My typical load size is one day’s worth of diaper laundry: 6-9 diapers, liners, and cloth wipes. While we use the WonderWash in our bathtub, the unit is small enough to use on a counter top. The Nina Soft Spin Dryer is a small centrifugal dryer… think of it as a turbo powered spin cycle in a regular washer. It is compact and weighs only seven pounds so storage is a breeze. We use the spin dryer to not only help dry our diapers, but it also plays a key role in our wash/rinse method. Truth be told, retailing at $145.00, the spin dryer was a splurge for us and if cost is a concern for  you, one can effectively wash cloth diapers with just the WonderWash. Prior to washing, I use a diaper sprayer on all our poopy diapers/wipes and on all our overnight diapers.

Laundry Method

  1. Presoak diapers in warm water 15-30 minutes, insert drain pipe and drain soiled water completely.Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Wonder Wash Drain Pipe
  2. Tumble wash in hot water with 2 tablespoons of detergent (we use Eco Sprout) for at least one minute, 60-75 rotations, drain. (Allow the detergent to dissolve in the hot water before rotating.)
  3. Tumble rinse in hot water for at one minute minimum and drain. (For faster draining and better results, wring out diapers by hand or press diapers against the washer side.)
  4. Tumble rinse in warm water for one minute, drain, and wring out diapers prior to spinning.
  5. Spin diapers: Place diapers into the Nina Soft Spin Dryer, being sure that the load is balanced. Spin until water stops draining.
  6. Tumble rinse in cold water for one minute, drain, and wring out diapers prior to final spinning.
  7. Spin diapers and hang dry.
  8. Disinfect tub and the outside of the WonderWash.Hand Washing Cloth Diapers Drying.

To see the WonderWash and Nina Soft Spin Dryer in action checkout my “how-to” video by clicking on the link or watching it below.

Hands-On but Fast: This wash/rinse/spin routine takes twenty to thirty minutes of hands-on time. Add that to a thirty minute presoak and that’s just one hour to wash a day’s worth of diapers. I can finish diaper laundry during my son’s nap time or my sweet hubby does diaper laundry in the evening. Our diapers come out clean and are dry in one to two days. Don’t let apartment living keep you from cloth diapering. Using the WonderWash makes hand washing our diapers fast and more convenient than traditional hand washing.

First Time Mom Hand Washing Cloth Diapers

Would not having an in-unit washer and dryer keep you from cloth diapering? Do you have any hand washing tips?  Remember, sharing is caring!


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Wife, stay at home mom, music educator, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her little boy Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She regularly contributes to the blogs First Time Mom and Kelly Wels.

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Posted in by Laura, cloth diapers, Cloth-i-pedia
  • Randi Graves

    Do you know about how much water it uses with each load?

    • Laura

      I would estimate two to three gallons (about a bucket full) with each step.

  • Laura

    The WonderWash is also great for prepping diapers and washing clothes.

  • http://www.parentingpatch.com Heather Johnson

    Kudos to you! I am not sure that I could handwash like that. I do not even handwash my regular clothes. Everything goes in the washer no matter what.

    • Laura

      Thanks Heather… I don’t think I could keep it up if it weren’t for my hubby pitching in.

  • Lara Clinton

    Wow, I’ve never seen wonder wash before! That’s really cool. In unit laundry machines are easy but this helps!

  • Jennifer

    Super cool! It’s nice to have the whole process laid out like that. Thank you for sharing!

    • Laura

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.zephyrhillblog.com Anne Sweden

    This is on my wish list! I think it would be indispensable during an emergency of any kind.

  • Audreana Derhake

    We have a wonder wash! We’ve always only used to while camping, I never thought to wash diapers in it! Thanks for the awesome idea!

    • FirstTimeMom MN

      You’re welcome! You must be pretty serious campers to have a WonderWash!

  • Tabitha
    • Laura

      I’ve never seen this electric washer… Have you used this with cloth diapers? If so, do you like it? We like that the Wonder Wash doesn’t run up our electric bill.

  • Nikki A

    I had no idea the Wonder Wash existed. Props for finding a green solution!

    I’ve also heard that spinning out your machine washed laundry can significantly reduce your drying time. I’ve thought of buying a spinner but have never seen one anywhere other than my friend’s mom’s house.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for posting this! I just received my Wonder Wash and Spin Dryer Junior (same manufacturer as your Nina) today. I was surprised to stumble upon this video of someone else cloth diapering with the same setup. I am expecting my first baby and we are planning to make an attempt at cloth diapering despite living aboard our 43 foot sailboat. I hope it works as well for us as it has for you!

    • Laura

      Congratulations! Sounds like you have some fun adventures ahead.

  • Cristy Kiesel

    Does eco sprout work really well in getting the poop stains and smells out? I also noticed that you were hanging the diapers on a rack by the window. Does that also help get the stains out if you can’t sun bleach them outside?

    • Laura

      Good questions, Cristy. For tough stains I actually used OxiClean stain spray in addition to my regular amount of Eco Sprout and just added an extra rinse. I didn’t notice any sun bleaching when drying by the window… but they did dry faster there.

  • Breanne Pesis

    I found this page because of the scavenger hunt, but, I have to say that I too do not have a washer and use a portable unit. It is a pain but I am making it work and love my cloth so far!


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