I guess you could title this "Anyone without an in-unit washer edition".
If you've been looking in to cloth diapers, you probably have heard all the raving about 'modern cloth diapers' and how similar they are to disposables in ease of use. When I first looked into cloth I was pregnant with my first child and we were living in an apartment complex. I was on board with how much money cloth would save us and how easy the modern cloth diapers were to use, however, when I ran the numbers washing them in the coin-operated machines in our apartment building was prohibitively expensive. By the time number two came around, Izzy was 18mos old. I ran the numbers again for the two children and found we would break even by the time they potty-trained, so we decided to give it a go. After some trial and error we found some secrets to make cloth diapers not only affordable, but cheap and easy without in-unit washers and dryers.
First, ditch the coin-operated machines. Okay, not completely, but they will be more aggravating and costly than they are worth. You have two options: the camp-style bucket and plunger method or our favorite, the Wonder Wash from Laundry Alternative. We used the bucket and plunger method for almost 6 months and I will admit -- its a pain. Between my bad back and John's bad hands, it wasn't working for us and I dreaded getting behind on laundry. With the Wonder Wash I can wash a days' worth of cloth diapers in 20 minutes. I usually do a load a day, but its not a big deal if I get a day behind. The best part is that you only have to pay for detergent, and maybe water if its not included in your rent.
As for drying, we invested in a couple of $20 drying racks from IKEA and now we dry everything on our balcony, or under the A/C vent if the weather is bad. Maybe once or twice a month we will use the dryers downstairs to dry our diapers. We can also use the Wonder Wash and the drying racks for regular clothing, saving even more money. Paying attention to the types of diapers you are getting will make washing and drying go even smoother. All-in-ones, which are the closest to disposables may be extremely easy to use, but they will take forever to dry on a drying rack and are harder to clean. Pocket diapers and all-in-twos are almost as easy to use -- you just have to add an insert -- and will dry much faster and get cleaner quicker. If you live in a humid climate, natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo will dry faster outside than artificial fibers. The fewer layers, the quicker your diapers will dry too, so inserts that fold up or consist of flaps like the Nappy Shoppe's gFlappers are a great option.
Lastly, don't feel bad about mooching your friends' and family's washers and driers. Whenever we plan an overnight visit with family we ask ahead if its okay to wash our diaper laundry in their washing machines. I have never had someone turn me down. I usually give myself a break from hand washing for a couple days before we leave and I have a nice big load when we get there. I have even used my brother's washer and drier when he offered (he lives in town). You could use the extra time saved by borrowing their washer and drier to make them a special treat as a "thank you".
If you're balking at the thought of cloth diapering because you rely on coin-operated machines, take another look. There is a cheap, easy, and effective way to wash your cloth diapers without using those expensive machines! It takes a little forethought when it comes to diaper shopping, and some investment up front (WonderWash, drying racks, diapers...) but the savings are well worth it.
Disclaimer: I wrote this piece of my own free will, although it was inspired by a current contest going on run by a large cloth diaper retailer. Given that I don't agree with what I write being dictated by any contest rules, this is not a contest entry and I am not being compensated now or in the future for this post and its contents. These thoughts are my own and I was not instructed to write anything in here by anyone except the little green men that live in my head. The links I provided are links to products, tutorials, and information I have used in the past that I have found extremely useful and I hope you will too. For full disclosure I am indeed one of the self-proclaimed rabid fans of gDiapers, AKA a gMum, and I receive little trinkets from them every now and then however I would be a rabid fan even if I wasn't part of their club.