Traveling with cloth diapers presents a set of challenges that those who use disposables do not have to face or think about. For starters, you cannot simply throw a cloth diaper away and move on; you have to carry all the used diapers with you!
Secondly, depending on the length of your trip, you may need to wash your diapers while traveling, which means packing extra supplies and possibly extra money.
1. Bring at Least 3 Wet Bags for Diapers and Everything Else
If you are cloth diapering on the go, you will need quite a few supplies to be successful! One of those supplies is a wet bag or three. Wet bags are an essential tool for traveling with diapers. A wet bag is specially designed to be waterproof and perfect for storing dirty cloth diapers. In addition, because they typically tie to zipper shut, you can keep your wet cloth diapers away from your clean diapers.
If you travel with three, you will always have one clean one to use in-between washes. You can also use the clean bag to store clean diapers as an extra layer of protection from dirty ones. You can use a wet bag to store dirty cloth diapers for up to two days while traveling if you do not have the option to wash them right away.
2. Use Disposable Diaper Liners to Minimize Dealing with Poop
Poop is without a doubt the most troublesome part of using cloth diapers both at home and while traveling. If your little guy or gal is still wearing diapers while traveling (and you should definitely travel with your baby!), you will need to plan ahead to make vacations run smoother.
Even if you do not use them at home, consider using disposable liners when traveling with diapers. Most disposable liners are biodegradable and can be flushed, leaving less of an impact on the environment than switching to disposables while on the go. When your baby poops, the liner will contain most of the mess within the liner, which you can then take out and flush or toss. Using disposable liners can make storing dirty cloth diapers less smelly and gross since most of the mess is flushed away.
You may also want to have a travel diaper pail to store liners in until you are able to flush them or dispose of them properly.
3. Prepare for a Poop-plosion
Poop explosions or blowouts are part of life when you have a child in diapers, and while they are less common with properly fitting cloth diapers, they can still happen. It is especially likely to happen when wearing diapers on vacation because your child may be exposed to new and different foods that react in funny ways in their belly.
Make sure you have a diaper travel pad with you in case you need to do a diaper road trip change in the back of the car or a public restroom.
You will also want to have plenty of diaper wipes at the ready and lots of extra diapers on hand. For example, suppose your baby will be sitting for long stretches in a car or on an airplane. In that case, you may want to consider using disposables as your travel diapers simply because they are more absorbent, which means fewer diaper changes and stopping.
4. Think Through the Washing Routine
One of the trickiest parts of dirty cloth diapers while traveling is washing them. You could, of course, attempt handwashing cloth diapers, but it is not the easiest or most sanitary method. If you do not have access to a washing machine or laundromat, you may want to consider using disposables while traveling.
When you have a child wearing diapers while traveling, everything becomes a bit more complicated, and cloth diapers up the challenge level, but you can do it!
If you really want to use your cloth diapers on vacation, check with the hotel or Airbnb to see if you can use the washing machine for cloth diapers. If you need to hand wash, they will not be thoroughly sanitized, but you can do things like soak in extra hot water or dry them in the sun to help. Then, once you are home, you can give them a proper wash.
5. Prepare the Essential Wash Supplies
If you are washing your cloth diapers on vacation, you will need some essential supplies. It is best to pack these as not all supplies will be readily available. Bring along your favorite cloth diaper detergent like Grovia or Eco Nuts, as well as a cloth diaper-approved stain stick remover.
If you are flying, check your laundry detergent in your bag and have some travel-sized packets on hand if you become separated from your bags. You could also have laundry detergent delivered to where you are staying, along with other groceries.
If you know you will be handwashing your diapers, bring along a sink stopper and rubber latex gloves. You will also need a drying rack or travel cloth diaper laundry line to hang up where you are staying.
It would help if you also planned to have several rolls of quarters as most laundry machines in the U.S. are still coin-operated. You can always call ahead to the resort or hotel to see how their machines operate if you are unsure.
6. Wash At Least Every Other Day
This piece of advice is not much different than if you were at home. Your cloth diapers should be washed every one to two days to keep bacteria at bay and because they will begin to smell. If cloth diapers are your travel diaper of choice, you may even want to wash them daily if possible, especially if you stay in a hotel room or smaller space than you are used to at home. It doesn’t take long for a dirty diaper to stink up a small space!
I don’t recommend wetting cloth diapers either while traveling, so if you use the wet pail method at home, consider switching them to dry pail or storing them in a wet bag until it is time to wash, as it will help keep the stink down.
If you have poopy diapers, do the best you can to remove the poop before storing them; using disposable or flushable diaper liners are a great way to cut down on poop cleaning!
7. Pack Enough Diapers for Two Full Days
When planning for diapers to go, plan on having enough diapers for two full days. That means if you have a newborn, you should have at least 20 diapers on hand! Of course, the amount you pack will depend on your child’s age and the average amount of diapers they typically use, but you definitely don’t want to be caught empty-handed.
Even if you think you will wash them every day, you will need to allow for dry time, and what if there is an emergency like a power outage and you can’t wash your diapers as planned? So it is always best to have a few extra on hand.
For older children wearing pull-ups on vacation or potty training, you will also need extra in case of accidents. Potty training is tough at any time but especially while traveling!
8. Always Have Backup Disposable Diapers
Another alternative is to take half a dozen or so disposables as an emergency backup. If you don’t use them, you can keep them stored in your car or your house in case of another rainy day scenario.
Disposables are inexpensive, compact, and easy to pack and can be tossed away anywhere there is a trash can, so there is no need to carry around a dirty diaper with you while flying on a plane with others. You might also want to keep your baby diapered for car trips in disposables as they are super absorbent and will mean fewer stops for changes.
Some people choose to forgo cloth altogether while traveling and use disposables only. But, again, you will have to weigh the pros and cons and do what is best for you and your baby.
You can always donate any unopened disposable diapers to a women’s shelter or a childcare center if you do not need them, which means they won’t be wasted!
9. Dry Diapers in the Sun When Possible
This is another diaper tip you should be using at home as well since UV light from the sun kills bacteria and other viruses. Research reported by the Sunlight Institute shows that all bacteria within eight feet of low-intensity UV lights were killed within ten minutes – that’s pretty amazing!
If you are staying at a place with a balcony or porch, you can simply lay your diapers out over the railing, or you can bring a drying rack along and set it up outside. Some types of cloth diapers should only be air-dried, so check with your diaper manufacturer on the best way to dry them.
If you don’t have access to direct sunlight, air-drying them inside is better than using a clothes dryer, but it will take longer, so keep that in mind when deciding how many diapers to pack.
10. Use Flats and Covers to Save Space
Flats tend to be one of the most economical styles of cloth diapers when it comes to cost and space. Like their name, they are flat and take up much less packing area than all-in-ones or pocket diapers. With flats, you can also resume the same cover three or four times before you need to wash it, making it even more travel-friendly.
Diaper covers are handy to have even if you are not using flats because you can toss them over pocket diapers or all-in-ones to help prevent leaks. Depending on what you will be doing on your trip and who will be watching your baby (relatives, friends) at times, you may want to have different styles of cloth diapers or even some disposable along to make things easier. Ling flights, car rides, or busy traveling days might require a different, more absorbent style than you are used to using.
11. Use Pockets, Hybrids, or AIOs for Speed
While these three styles require a little bit more effort to wash and take longer to air dry, they make diaper changes move along much faster. Pocket, hybrid, and all-in-one diapers are performed like a standard disposable diaper and have fasteners or snaps already attached, making changes easy and breezy.
They take up more space and, because of their thickness and take longer to dry, but you might not care too much about that if you are trying to change a fussy baby’s diaper in the back of the car or an airplane bathroom! These three styles will also make it easier for other people to change your baby’s diaper since they are the most similar in shape and function to the disposable diaper that everyone is familiar with.
Because of the shape of this style, it’s also much easier to do the standing-up diaper change on a toddler or child who is potty training.
12. Prepare Travel Cloth Diaper Accessories
Before you head out on your travels, you will need to gather all your diaper-changing accessories. Things you will want to have at the ready are baby wipes, disposable or cloth ones, wet bags, diaper liners, a diaper sprayer or scraper, a changing pad, and a travel diaper pail.
You might also want to have cloth diaper-safe diaper cream on hand just in case your baby’s bottom develops a rash. However, not all diaper creams are approved for use with cloth diapers, and you don’t want to find yourself in a pinch of not being able to find what you need.
You can use cloth diaper wipes on the go just as easily as disposables; keep them stored in a dry bag, then wet them with water when needed. You can store the dirty wipes with the dirty diapers until you can wash them.
How do you travel with cloth diapers?
Make sure you have enough for two days and bring along accessories such as disposable diaper liners, laundry detergent, and a few disposables for emergencies.
What do you do with dirty cloth diapers while traveling?
Keep your dirty cloth diapers in a sealed wet bag while traveling and then when you have the availability. You can hand or machine wash depending on your lodging.
How do you deal with cloth diapers in public?
The same way you do with a disposable, but instead of throwing it away, you fold it up and put it in a wet bag until you can wash it!
How long can you leave a cloth diaper on?
That depends on your child’s age and how often they wet or soil themselves, but typically, cloth diapers need to be changed every 2-3 hours max.