Cloth Diapers and Travel? Read This First
People often ask us if it’s possible to travel and still use cloth diapers, and our answer is a resounding yes.
Not only is it possible to travel using cloth diapers, but it’s also relatively easy. All you have to do is ask a couple of questions when booking your accommodation and add an extra item or two to your packing checklist.
To make it even easier to have fun while you travel with a baby in cloth diapers, here’s our rundown of the questions to ask, what to pack, top travel tips, and how to share your travel adventures with us.
How to Store Dirty Cloth Diapers When Traveling
When you are traveling, the best method of dirty diaper storage will depend on how long you are away and what laundry options you have.
We use a large wet bag for one to three days away and wash our diapers when we get home. This will not only allow us to stay somewhere without having to consider the laundry facilities, but it also gives us a break from washing for a few days.
When we are away from home for four days or more, we consider our options. Do we look for somewhere to stay that has laundry facilities? Can we hand wash or use a portable washer, for example, when camping? Are disposables the best option for this trip?
Because there is a limited amount of time, you can store dirty diapers before you have to worry about possible mold or mildew.
If you have a large wet bag or even several small ones, and you can leave the wet bag open to ensure good airflow, you can store your dirty diapers for up to four days, max. The exact time will depend on the air quality in your storage area.
Every Simple Being six pack of diapers comes with a coordinating wet bag. These are the "boys animal" print set.
Hot, humid conditions are ideal for mold and mildew growth on diapers. In this type of climate, consider three days your storage limit, even with good airflow. You can stretch the storage to four days in cooler, drier conditions or an air-conditioned room. But, again, only if you have an open bag with plenty of airflow.
When you store dirty diapers in a closed wet bag, consider three days your maximum.
Options For Washing Dirty Diapers When Traveling
For trips longer than three days, we find it simple to plan ahead. In the same way, you might consider accommodation according to whether they have a pool or on-site childcare; add laundry to your list of things to check.
Vacation Rentals and Cloth Diapers
Because they, generally, include the use of a washing machine, Airbnb, and other, similar rentals can be an excellent option for cloth diapering families. However, these rentals are not always cloth diaper friendly.
Contact the rental owner or manager ahead of time to confirm you will have access to washing facilities and that they are happy for you to use the washing machine for diapers. We once made the mistake of assuming we would have access to laundry, only to discover the rental owner had removed their washer and dryer because they didn’t want anyone using it.
Rental Accommodation Top Tips
- Ask about the laundry facilities before you book.
- Take your preferred detergent. It will ensure you have the detergent you like, AND it means you don’t have to worry about shopping for a specific item.
Hotels and motels with “self-serve” laundry facilities are a cloth diaper holiday maker’s best friend. We always booked this type of accommodation, even before cloth diapering. When you’re traveling with kids, the ability to pack light and wash clothes is priceless.
One thing to remember with hotel laundries is that you may not be able to stick with the exact wash routine you use at home, the water may be harder, or there may be some other random variable.
In this case, try not to worry. In most cases, a week or two of a sub-optimal wash routine will not ruin your diapers. Worst case scenario is that you may have to give them a couple of extra washes when you get home.
Hotel Top Tips
- Go to the bank before you leave home and pick up a couple of rolls of coins. Quarters are usually your best bet.
- If you use an uncommon detergent, or you’re traveling somewhere unlikely to stock your detergent, take some with you.
Many parts of the world use a laundry service to pick up your dirty stuff and drop it off freshly laundered rather than personal laundry services. In this case, ask ahead of time if they can launder dirty diapers. You will probably have to specify a specific wash routine to ensure they hot wash and do not use softeners.
However, in some cases, you may luck out and be vacationing in a place where diaper-specific laundry services are the norm. In this case - Jackpot! - They are likely to wash your diapers exactly how you ask, and if not, be able to do something very close.
Handwashing diapers when traveling is a viable option for some people, although it’s not for everyone. Whether it will work for you depends on the facilities where you are staying, the climate, and how willing you are to do this on vacation.
The most significant issues are:
- Will you have a sink large enough for washing diapers, even if it’s half a dozen at a time?
- Can you get enough hot water to clean your diapers effectively?
- Is there somewhere you can hang your diapers for drying?
- What’s the weather like at your destination? In humid climates, it can be challenging to get your diapers dry.
- Do you have a way to sanitize the sink after washing your diapers?
- Is everyone happy to wash, brush their teeth, and deal with other personal hygiene tasks in the same sink where you’ve washed diapers?
- Do you want to spend your vacation time washing diapers by hand?
In most cases, we have found hand-washing the least attractive option for most vacations, but for longer trips, especially in places where few, if any, laundry machines are available, it can be done.
What do you need when you’re traveling with cloth diapers? To some degree, it depends on how long you’ll be away, your regular wash routines, and your laundry options. But in general, we take:
In an ideal world, we take two large wet bags, one for storage and one we can use, “just in case,” while the other is in the laundry. However, you can definitely manage with just one. If you don’t have wet bags, a large plastic bag works just as well, but it’s important to leave it open for airflow.
- For us, enough diapers for three days. This is a personal choice because we like to do less laundry than usual on holiday. However, even if you plan to wash every day, take a day’s supply of diapers plus a few spares.
This covers you if there’s a travel delay, an out-of-the-ordinary number of diaper changes, extra poops due to a change in diet, and those moments when you’ve had a long day and just want to fall into bed rather than deal with the laundry.
Detergent - Maybe. If you use a regular detergent that’s available in most places, such as Tide, you are traveling in the US to a location with major stores, and you don’t mind stopping off at the store, pick some up at your destination.
Alternatively, take detergent with you. Rather than take a big box, I measure out the correct amount per wash into a reusable bag, work out how many washes I’m likely to do, and put those bags inside a larger bag to minimize the chance of leaks.
Change. Many self serve laundry facilities take debit or credit cards, but just as many still take coins. Although there is usually a change machine in the laundry room or a front desk well equipped with cash, it is always a good idea to take a roll with you, just in case.
- A diaper bag or day-pack with: a small wet bag, enough diapers for our day out plus two extra because I’m a big “just in case” fan, a foldable changing mat, wipes, cream if you use it, a complete change of clothes because, well you know, “just in case!”
How Many Diapers Should I Take on a Trip?
When deciding how many diapers to take with you, consider how often you will be washing and your available space. For example, if you’re going on a road trip, it’s easier to pack in three days worth of diapers than it is to fit them in your luggage for air travel.
We prefer to take three days supply, but if you are happy to wash daily, take one, plus a couple of spares.
Unless you feel VERY strongly about never using a disposable, consider them for some or all of your vacation. After all, it’s supposed to be a trip for everyone to enjoy, and while laundry isn’t a big deal, not having to do it is lovely.
Disposable diapers are a good option for long plane rides or some road trips. Being able to stretch out the time between changes, as you can in some circumstances with disposables, can be helpful.
They are also a good option for locations where laundry facilities are not available or are not appropriate for dirty diapers, for example, a laundry service that is unwilling to wash the diapers at a specific minimum temperature or use your preferred detergent.
Finally, if you plan to leave your little one with relatives or an in-facility child-care service, they may not be willing to change cloth diapers, and disposables may be your only option.
Traveling With Cloth Diapers: Top Tips
#1. In most travel situations, wet bags are your best option for dirty diaper storage. They take up very little space in your luggage and can be used virtually anywhere. Take one large wet bag for up to three days worth of laundry.
#2. Take one or two small wet bags to pack in your diaper bag, or day-pack. This will allow you to enjoy a long day away while still using cloth.
#3. If you have an uncommon detergent, are traveling out of the country, or going somewhere off the beaten track, take some of your detergent with you.
#4. When you’re staying places with coin-operated laundry, take at least one roll of quarters with you. That way, you don’t have to carry any cash to make change, nor do you have to worry about tracking down coins.
#5. Consider diaper liners, even if they are something you do not usually use. Liners mean you don’t have to worry about spraying or scraping any poop and minimize any poo that might linger on your diapers.
#6. Plan for the unusual. If you don’t already, keep a change of clothes, a folding change pad, and something to give your little one a good wash down in your changing bag.
#7. Don’t worry about your usual wash routine. As long as you can get a wash hot enough to sanitize your dirty diapers, the other elements of your wash routine are not critical for a handful of vacation washes.
For example, if you can’t manage a good, cold soak wash at the beginning of your wash, or the hotel machine doesn’t seem to rinse as thoroughly as your home washer, don’t panic. An extra wash or two when you get home is usually enough to deal with the staining or detergent build-up caused by the less-than-ideal vacation washes.
#.8 Consider disposables for unusual circumstances or emergencies.
Babies, Cloth Diapers, and Travel
In most circumstances, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to use cloth diapers when you travel. We would say that all it takes is a little extra work, but “work” is overstating it.
All you need to do is check what laundry facilities are available, and plan accordingly, and you’re good to go.
So get going, book up that vacation, and enjoy yourselves; you deserve it.
And let us know where you have been while using cloth. We’d love to see photos of your adventures in reusable diapers, so share them on our Facebook page at @SimpleBeingDiapers Alternatively, share with us on Instagram. Let us know by using @simplebeingdiapers or the hashtag #SimplyComfortable.