Vacation with cloth, without laundry facilities

Yes, it’s doable.

Here was our situation: Family trip (as in, us with DH’s parents and sibs). Cruise ship. No laundry facilities. (Obviously I did not choose the ship.) Genna is pretty much 100% potty trained at home, but she does not always tell us if she needs to pee when we’re not home. Additionally, she will often say “no” in response to “do you need to pee” when what she means is “yes, but I’m busy right now.” And she has a tendency to wait to tell us she needs to pee when she’s got approx. 8 seconds to get to the toilet. She’s dry overnight if she’s sleeping well, but has a tendency to pee in her sleep on nights when she’s restless. So – I had no idea what to expect on this trip from her.

We decided to take flat diapers, since they would wash the easiest and dry the fastest,  not to mention that they pack so compactly. I also took several pairs of training pants because those would be easier on the travel days than trying to deal with a diaper and cover in the airplane bathroom. We also decided that we would throw away any poopy diapers, rather than trying to get them clean by hand washing in water of unknown temperature. (I wasn’t sure how hot the water on the boat would get.) I packed enough diapers for two days of full-time diapering, in addition to wipes and a few covers.

I hand-washed wet diapers and training pants in the sink in our bathroom – one at a time – every time we had one in need of washing. I rinsed them out under running cold water, then let them soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes before agitating with my hands for several minutes. I rinsed in hot water, then cold water, until I didn’t see any more bubbles. We hung them to dry using clothes pins and skirt hangers. The bathroom was too humid, so I actually hung them out on our cabin’s deck. Our cabin mates (my MIL, FIL, MIL’s aunt, and MIL’s friend) were not super impressed by this, but *shrug.* There were a few days when we had oily soot from the ship’s smokestacks covering everything on the deck, and on those days, I hung diapers in the closet or in front of the window from the curtain rod. I brought clothesline, but was reluctant to just string it up somewhere.

Dipes drying on the deck

We didn’t have too many diapers to deal with, fortunately, but I think our system would have still worked out just fine even if she was in dipes full-time. Flats are not hard to wash by hand, they rinse clean fairly easily, and they dry fast.

I used flats that I made from birdseye fabric, in addition to some that I bought on clearance a little while back. We used some liquid laundry soap that I had sitting around the laundry room from our last trip last summer. It was probably Costco brand.


yes, we could have just switched to disposables. but I didn’t want to. (And Genna got a horrible rash the one time she wore a disposable.) Had we been using disposables, I would have had to devote a lot more suitcase room to diapers, since I would have needed to pack enough to last the whole 12 days we were gone. And I would have had to worry about running out! And I’m honestly not sure what I would have done with them on the ship. They don’t have plastic liner bags in the garbage cans, and I wouldn’t have wanted to smell dirty disposable diapers all day, either.

As it turns out, using cloth was not a big deal. It didn’t take up much time. It was no more effort than using cloth at home. It was not a big deal.

Dipes drying on the deck


Author: sarahtar

Hi, I am Sarah, owner of Wallypop ( and Boulevard Designs ( I homeschool, work from home, and, along with my husband, raise 3 kids, one of whom has special and medical needs. Turn ons are people who are polite, honesty, and really good root beer. Turn offs are mean people and people who make my life more difficult.

5 thoughts on “Vacation with cloth, without laundry facilities”

  1. Very cool. I am glad you stuck to you guns despite the *looks* of the unimpressed. YEAH YOU!! how fast did they dry — i guess since you vere in the one room the whole time that was less of an issues. I have always worred travling being in a hotle only a night or 2. I as suprised the ship did not have a guest laundry — that is **shake head**

  2. Aimee – the flats took a few hours outside, about 24 hours in the closet. We don’t ever do vacations where we move around that much, but most hotels and motels have a guest laundry, so it wouldn’t be as much of a concern. When we have access to laundry (either at a hotel or a laundromat), I don’t worry so much about it because it’s usually just a few hours and everything’s washed and dried. (when we vacation, we typically drive somewhere and stay there. Regardless of whether or not we have someone in diapers, we usually plan to make a laundromat stop every 3-4 days so we can pack fewer clothes.)

    The vast majority of cruise lines provide guest laundry facilities. You almost have to be trying to get one that doesn’t. Royal Caribbean does not. (And, for the record, at least on Adventure of the Seas, the tap water ranges in color from light yellow to dark brown. Ew.)

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