November 7, 2010

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I’m a cloth convert for sure. I tried cloth diapers over the summer and came to like them a lot. If you’re a friend on Facebook, you can read all about my cloth diaper trial in my notes (pre-blog, you know). I’m sure there will be a post about the virtues of cloth sometime soon, but for now, I’m going to share with you the glamour of being an Air Force wife. I have come to realize that cloth diapering only really works when you have your own washer and dryer. Laundry rooms—not so much.

Another fun aspect, giving H a bath in the blow-up tub in the shower stall.

On our recent stay in Altus, America we had the good fortune to have our family together—three of us in two small rooms. When I say small, I mean the entire dorm could fit inside my living room with room to spare. Really, I could fill entire blog entries with the dorms here and how they could be improved (blowing them up is one option).

Thankfully the Air Force does provide a free laundry room for their dorms. If this story involved rolls and rolls quarters, it would take on horrifically annoying proportions.

Normally, we get H in bed and take the wet bag downstairs; we do one quick load of laundry, dry, and they’re ready in the morning. Herein lies my first problem. H sleeps in the living room. There isn’t actually room for her pack and play in the bedroom. I might be able to slip past her once or twice to wash the diapers, assuming she sleeps through the draft and squeaking door. But washing diapers here involves four round trips.

The washers have no pre-rinse cycle and no second rinse option. Round 1: Empty wet bag into machine and run a light wash with cold water. Round 2: Add soap and run an extra clean wash on hot water. Round 3: Run a normal cold wash to finish rinsing. Round 4: Transfer to the dryer. Total time: At least 2.5 hours.

If everyone had to wash diapers this way, no one would do it.

Diaper wash has to be done during the day, which means that it usually takes much more than 2.5 hours because in the middle of it we have to go to story time, get the mail, or take naps. I’m usually on the last clean diaper by the time the wash is actually done.

Part of me is tempted to go out and get some disposables. The wash is the only problem that would solve. I’ve discovered that my little 12-14 hour sleeper has a bladder capacity larger than the average disposable diaper’s absorption ability. Every time she sleeps in a disposable, she, the PJs, and the sheets are wet in the morning. A solution that translates into a daily load of laundry is not helpful. This brings us back to square one.

For the time being all we can do is adapt and be flexible. Flexibility, after all, is the key to air power (those of you who know me well know the right mix of humor, annoyance, and long-suffering this phrase evokes).

With quite a bit of travel planned for 2011, this little adventure gives me food for thought. It seems to me there’s only one way to avoid this problem in the future: potty training. Oh, boy.


  1. A) I feel your pain and am thankful that I could always run away to OKC. Just think, there are families that stay in those dorms with 2, 3, or 4 children.

    B) If she's leaking through her disposables, move up a size. Ben has always slept 12 hours, and he doesn't leak.

    C) Did you try putting the P&P in the closet? I know a lot of people do that, and then you could do the diapers at night. You know, if you don't break down and just get disposables.

    D) Keep writing!

  2. Buy more diapers??? :-) I have to say, the part about "flexibility being the key to air power" cracked me up. We say that all the time around here. Actually, when Paul first started telling me that, soon after we met in 2003, I thought the phrase was "Flexibility is the key to OUR power," which I guess, in a way, is true too. :-)


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