I recently returned from vacation and six days of doing cloth diapering by hand - we had no machine available. It was a big learning experience, but can be done. I was fortunate that my son is 2 1/2 and in the process of being potty trained, so I did not have the normal amount of diapers he would have if he were not potty training. I would have like to use disposables, but my son gets terrible eczema from them (even G-diapers, which we did try the first day and they caused a bad outbreak).
The type of diaper you have can affect the ease of the handwashing process. Fortunately, we do pre-folds and these are very easy to hand wash.
Using gloves is an absolute must!!
I did some reading before our trip to get some tips on how others managed this not so fun task! Here is what worked for me...
I tried using soap nuts liquid detergent (I normally use Thirsties wash products but for some reason those have all of a sudden stopped being made) that I made ahead of time, but was not thrilled with it for handwashing (I do use this for the initial wash at home). So, I purchased a pure olive oil soap bar and used that instead, rubbing it over the entire diaper and focusing on any poopy spots, and then rubbing the diaper together to agitate. I then rinsed and rinsed in luke warm water to remove the soap. If needed, I let them soak a little in the water to help remove the soap.
The next step was sprinkling the wet diapers with aluminum free baking soda and organic white vinegar. This combination bubbled up nicely and was a helpful way to kill germs. I left the diapers with this on them for 15-30 minutes.
The last step was rinsing in the hottest water possible until I was sure any remaining soap, vinegar, and baking soda was out of the diapers. I squeezed as much liquid as I could out of the diapers and hung them up to dry.
I did bring enough diapers with me so that I did not have to reuse the diapers I hand washed and I put these diapers through the wash when I got home. Again, this was only possible because we kept my son in his big boy undies as much as we could and brought his potty from home.
That was my handwashing experience! I would love to hear from others who have tried the same thing.