Hand Washing Cloth Diapers

by - April 04, 2018

I never imagined hand washing my diapers, but after moving into an apartment without washer/dryer hookups, I started looking into it and decided to give it a shot. Originally, my plan was to hand wash for the prewash and take the diapers to the community laundry room for the main wash. Once I got started it seemed like way more effort to drag the wet diapers down there once I'd already started hand washing, so I ended up doing the main wash by hand as well.

I started out by following the Fluff Love guidelines for hand washing. As I followed the routine more I tweaked it to work best for me, and I've had great luck with it for around 6 months now.

I'll be honest - if I had access to a personal washing machine I'd choose that over hand washing. I did a load of diapers at my mom's house recently, and it was nice to be completely hands off for the entire cycle time. But I still really don't mind hand washing. It doesn't add that much time or effort to my diaper laundry.

I hand wash using a bucket and a plunger. You can find a 5 gallon bucket with a lid for just a few dollars at Walmart or hardware stores. I actually just use an empty cat litter bucket with the lid taken off. I haven't had any issues with splashing, so I wasn't worried about cutting a hole in the lid like I've seen recommended online.
My plunger came from dollar tree. I've seen nicer ones online with handles to make plunging easier, but I've just been working with what I've already got.
My routine consists of 4 main parts. A cold rinse to begin with no detergent. Then 2 wash cycles with hot water and detergent followed by one more cold rinse before wringing the diapers out completely and hanging them to dry. In each cycle I fill the bucket about 3/4 full of diapers and fill it with water to a few inches above the diapers. This is the same as with a regular wash routine. You're going for a stew consistency to get the proper amount of agitation. The more I've washed them the easier it becomes to get the right consistency every time. I can have more or less diapers than usual and be able to tell by feel if I'm using enough water. 

I've washed everything from microfiber to bamboo and FSTs to AIOs. I've had no issues with any of them. I prefer FSTs and covers, because they're thin so they wash easily and dry fast. 

If you still think this sounds overwhelming I'd like to encourage you to try it out in May during the 8th annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. 

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  1. Awesome graphic! I'm super intimidated by handwashing, but people like you are inspiring me to give it a go during the challenge this year!

  2. Great break down. I hand wash a lot in the summer, but, admittedly, I prefer using my washing machine just out of easy-ness. Hand washing really isn't that bad, though. I prefer it to using disposables!!
    Katelynn, hampersandhiccups.com

  3. Awesome guide! I think I'll try it your way for the flats & hand washing challenge! Last year, I washed in my sink but it was hard to get enough agitation. Off to raid my garage for a bucket! ��

  4. Thanks for sharing this is so helpful for so many people. Handwashing feels intimidating but really is simple.

    Thanks for the link up, can't wait to share and read more from you!

  5. Replies
    1. I like Foca! It's super cheap and works great. It can't be used in HE washers, but I love it for hand washing or for using my mom's older washer!