Traveling with Cloth Diapers

In the 2.5 years my daughter wore diapers, we bought just six packs of disposables.  I’m sure I could have done better if I’d really set my mind to it.  We didn’t deal with the nighttime diaper dilemmas some parents face, so we used cloth at night.  We also traveled a lot during those years, and we stuck with cloth diapers for several of those trips.  (I know, I know–traveling is not green at all!  Read about my personal crisis over traveling here.)  Here are some travel tricks that worked for us.

Check out this ode to station wagon living!

Go somewhere with washing machines.  Most of our post-baby trips were simple affairs, visiting family or staying in rental houses (rather than hotels) equipped with washers and dryers.   If I thought someone might be grossed out by washing my dirty diapers in their machine, I used disposables.

Wash when you return.  On short weekend trips, we just lugged the diapers back with us and washed them at home.  With my wet bag, this wasn’t a problem.

Get a good wet bag.  Joy wrote a post about her Bumkin’s Dirty Duds bag here.  I bought a wet back from a sporting goods store, which holds more diapers (about three or four days’ worth).  It doesn’t leak or emit odors.  I would not recommend traveling with a diaper pail, though I know some have done it.

Use disposables en route, but switch back to cloth once you’re settled.  We didn’t tend to do much multiple-destination traveling with the baby, so this worked well.  On shorter trips we stuck with cloth the whole way, but if we were traveling all day long, we didn’t want to lug dirty and wet cloth diapers through airport security.

Dry diapers out the car window.  Okay, I did not actually try this one–but my grandmother did!   She posted a comment on the post comparing cloth to disposables, revealing her cloth diapering secrets from 1952, when she and three kids traveled across the entire country.

As those six packs of disposables show, I did resort to disposables every now and then, so I’m no cloth diapering angel.  I always packed disposables on extended plane trips, but others are much braver!  Check out Sunrise on the Water’s Thrifty Green Thursday post to see how she survived cloth diapering on a ten-day trip to Hawaii.  Let us know your cloth diaper travel tales, tricks, and tips by posting a comment.


  1. I am seriously considering investing in cloth diapers, at least for the weekends when I’m home. What are cost-effective ways to get started?

  2. I wish we were as dedicated as you. We just don’t have the guts to CD on the go. We’ve been away three weeks of his short life (almost 6 months old) already and used disposables every trip. Mind you we chose 7th Generation to feel better about it but we were still a bit guility. When visiting my parents they do have a washing machine but have hard well water. When we went with my fiance on a work trip the hotel has washers but cost $2 to wash $2 to dry!!! I can’t see handwashing a days worth of stinkiy diapers in the hotel sink either, where would you hang them all?! If we took a short weekend trip i could see schleping the dirty ones home.

  3. Going Green Mama, you may want to check out our Cloth Diapers for Novices and Cost Comparisons posts. Also, if you click on our “diapers” category on the left, you’ll find all of our diaper posts.

    Jillian, I never went to great lengths to cloth diaper on the go! I never washed diapers in the sink or took them to a laundromat. So I wouldn’t say I was more dedicated than you.

  4. Its all mind over matter really. Cloth diapering is only a pain if you let yourself think it is. I don’t see why cloth diapering when you travel would be a pain unless there is no reasonable access to a washing machine. Just make sure you have a travel bag that holds soiled wet diapers. I have a planet wise one.To make it easier even thought its not that green. If you are traveling in an airport and a poop happens use flushable wipes so that way you can dumb the poop and the wipes in the toliet.

  5. People might call me crazy, but I actually used plain old flats when I traveled w/ my daughter. I’d bought a dozen specifically for that purpose! They pack nice and flat taking up little space, can be washed in a tub if I didn’t have access to a washer (which was most of the time) then hung to dry overnight, doubled as spit rags & changing mats AND I never had to worry about getting stranded in an airport and running out of diapers (I never had to wash a diaper in an airport bathroom, but I could have if I needed too). Over the course of 3 years I took my daughter all over Europe (even staying in hostels!) and they never let me (or her) down!

  6. Great tips. We just took a trip tp the beach and I was happy to have a clothes line where we stayed to dry my diapers. I also have so other ideas to add to your great ideas:

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