A Look Back on the Flats and Handwashing Challenge

June 1st, 2011

When Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry initiated the Flats and Hand Washing challenge, I didn't hesitate to join. (Read more on why I joined here). The challenge consisted of using flat cloth diapers with 5 covers per child and hand washing and line drying those diapers for one week.
After finishing the hand washing and flats challenge, there are some things that I learned.

1. Hand washing wasn't that bad. Yes, it took time. Yes, it was more physical work than using a washing machine. You have to wash clothes in some way, shape or form and hand washing didn't take longer than doing our regular wash routine with cloth diapers.

2. Flats are AWESOME! Why? Because they are truly a one size fits all diaper. You can fold it just about any way to get the fit you need for your little one. Charlotte has an incredibly high rise and we have leaks out of the back of some diapers occasionally. With flats we never had a leak! Flats are awesome because they don't hold smells. With just one layer of fabric, no stinkies can attach to it. Flats are awesome for the many different folds that can be used. Flats are awesome because they are inexpensive!

3. I love line drying. When we first moved into our house, we line dried everything because we didn't have a dryer. I missed walking outside with a basket of fresh smelling laundry and taking those few minutes to do something that is so tranquil for me. This is something that I will continue to do with our diaper and clothes.

4. When I wasn't using the washing machine for diapers, I didn't use it at all. I take that back... I think I did one or two loads of laundry for the duration of the challenge. If I wasn't in the laundry room to see all the clothes that needed washing, I didn't think about them. Out of sight, out of mind thing! Needless to say, on Tuesday I spent the whole day doing laundry.

If I were doing this full time, there are some little tricks that I learned and a few things I would change about my routine.

1. I would still wash in the bathtub but I think I would get one of those hand tools to do it. Perhaps that Rapid Washer , a plunger like device that creates suction and helps clean items. Or the Wonderwash, an R2D2 looking little thing with a hand crank that acts just like a miniature washing machine. I think in the long run, this would make the everyday chore slightly simpler.

2. Get creative! We have an outdoor line that works great but was a little small. I dried all of the cloth wipes inside on the shower curtain rods. I figured out that if you hang up hangers and drape the wipes on the hanger, it is a much better use of drying space. Instead of only getting maybe 6-8 wipes on a shower rod, you could probably get about 50. I don't know when you would use 50 wipes but....

3. Use a wet pail for poop. There was much less staining after we did this and it was easier to get the poo off of the diaper if I let it soak for awhile.

Overall, I felt good about this challenge. I didn't think it was too hard, just different. We all want to do the best for our kids and for our family that involves cloth diapering. If this was the only way that I could cloth diaper I would hand wash and line dry those suckers! I could see how hand washing could be unappealing to some people. It's not a "set it and forget it" type thing like a washing machine is. But if you don't have a washing machine how are you washing your clothes? By hand? At the Laundromat? Adding one more load might not be that challenging.

Our family really enjoyed using flat cloth diapers. My husband actually said that they are his favorite system of cloth diapering! I have to say, that surprised me a little. I like them too, but don't know if they are my favs. It was nice to have the convience of pockets and fitteds again but having a few pad folded flats and covers ready isn't that different from any AI2 system. We will be thinking about donating some of the diapers in our current stash to families in need and taking Kim's advice and perhaps taking to some local organizations about getting the word out about cloth diapers.

I want to thank Kim for setting this up. It was a brilliant idea! One that was more than just fun, it spread a message about cloth and was somewhat of a public service announcement. I hope that something this week has helped you to help someone around you. Whether it be letting a friend use your cloth diapers for her baby or educating someone on how to use cloth diapers inexpensively. Lets get the word out about cloth!

I would like to thank Diaper Junction for the dozen Diaper Rite flats that I received for the challenge!

P.s. Folding flats can work in any size. Plus all that practice let me make this tiny little flat out of a t-shirt scrap for Sally's doll. Now all we need are tiny little doll size snappis! :)


Flats Challenge Day 7

I've been absent for days 5 and 6 of the challenge. Forgive me. Anyways, the flats challenge is still going strong. Days 5 and 6 went off without a hitch. Washing and drying was fine and going great. I had run out of Rockin Green before the challenge had started and was using Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap. When that ran out, I found this "home soap" stuff that we had bought ages ago. It has 802 uses, including washing your clothes, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. The diapers came out clean and smelled like nothing so I knew it was working. I stopped by Baby Earth, one of the local natural parenting stores in town and picked up some Rockin Green for diapers and the rest of our clothes. I washed the flats in Rockin Green on Friday and boy, was that wash cycle dirty! The diapers never smelled dirty or ammonia-y before Friday.

There are definitely things that I have learned to make things easier. I'll have an outline of some tips tomorrow and an overview of the experience. I'm off for my last handwashing of the challenge...


Day 4 of the Flats Challenge

May 26th, 2011

Last night was hard. I had no desire to wash diapers. Instead I was eating haagan daaz coffee ice cream (ummmmmmm) and watching Battlestar Galactica. My gracious husband did the rinse and started the wash cycle in the tub! What a man! I can't tell you how thankful I am to have a helper! It was a long day with the kids (Sally is sick) and I just wasn't feeling it. Everything got done though. It was a fairly large load; I almost ran out of drying space. I had over 13 flats hanging on the line, plus covers! I had wipes inside on both shower rods and towel racks. I noticed 2 stains on my flats today ! They didn't sun out on the line like I thought they would.

STAINS!!! Diaper Rite on L and Koala Kuddles on R.

So far I've been using Diaper Rite bleached flats in size large and Koala Kuddles Muslin receiving blankets as flats. The Diaper Rite flats, from my measurements, are 36" x 27" stretched. The original measurements for the Diaper Rite's was 32" x 32". I don't know how I ended up with the wonky measurement of 36" x 27". I measured twice and measured 2 different flats! Strange. Perhaps because I'm hanging them to dry it's causing the fabric to stretch by weighing it down on the line. The corners of the flats do look stretched out (which makes folded them neatly slightly more complicated). The Koala Kuddles are 42" x 42" stretched. The original measurement for these was 39" x 39". Again, I think that fact that I'm line drying everything has lead to the stretching of the fabric (especially at the corners). The lack of the daily high heat drying experience is probably the cause of the differing measurements.

The Koala Kuddles are better for using on James because I can utilize more of the folds on him. The Diaper Rite flats just don't make it around his waist. He, by no means, is a big 2.5 year old. He's a trim little guy. I prefer to save the Diaper Rite's for pad folding. Since the Koala Kuddles are larger, when folded, they give more layers. I like to use the Koala Kuddles on Charlotte at night and use a 2 pad folded flats in a cover at night for James.

One problem I've run into: snappis... I have to make sure that there is enough fabric so that the teeth of the snappi can't touch the kid's skin. Poor James started screaming "It hurts!!!! It hurts!!!" after I had put on his alternative kite folded flat and cover and pants. The pressure of the pants made the snappi "bite" his skin... We used a pad fold after that one! Is anyone else running into this issue?

BTW, It's not to late to join, if you'd like. For more info and full rules, click here.

Day 1 post here
Day 2 post here
Day 3 post here

Day 3 of the Flats and handwashing Challenge

May 25th, 2011

Day 2 Recap:

Well, Charlotte was a poop machine yesterday. I took the advice of some of the other participants and did a wet pail for the soiled diapers. The wet ones just went in the regular diaper pail. I have noticed that I'm paranoid about staining when handwashing. Every time Charlotte pooped, I'd run like a mad women to the bathroom and use the detachable showerhead to do a "hand pre-rinse". I'd then throw the dirty diaper into a bucket with cold water and baking soda. I put the bucket in my shower so the kids wouldn't get to it. The only stain we've had is on a wipe, and it's very small.

For yesterday's covers we used, our fleece cover, the Wonder Wrap, Sustainablebabyish wool soaker, Little Beetle's wool cover, a Zookies cover, and the Softbums Echo shell. Six covers for 2 kids... Not too bad! We went through almost all of our flats yesterday. By nighttime, there were only a handful of flats left. We had James all ready for bed in his PJs with two pad folded flats in a Little Beetle wool cover and he pooped, BIG time! EVERYWHERE! After a change, (into a Zookies cover with a kite folded flat with a pad folded flat laid inside), we were good to go for bed. Charlotte wore a pad folded flat inside a Skully Butts cover. No leaks for either of them.

Not only did I handwash the flats last night, I had to do wool wash because of the poo mess. So we were down all of our wool covers. I let them soak overnight and they are now hanging to dry. Hopefully by tomorrow morning I'll be able to use the wool covers.

Handwashing didn't seem as intimidating as it was on Day 1. I knew what to do and did it. Since there were about twice as many diapers to wash last night as there were on day 1, it took longer to hand-wring everything. I did let the diapers soak for a little longer than I did on day 1 for no particular reason (I just got wrapped up in watching Scrubs on Netflix). I ran out of space on my line to dry diapers. I had to hang some by the corner of the flat with a clothespin. There were about four of them that were really close together like that that didn't dry overnight. After I took the majority of the flats off the line, I spread the damp ones out.

The handwashed wipes are stiff. Perhaps I'll throw them in a pillowcase, tie the top off and give it to the kids to shake around.

I have to admit, handwashing is really time consuming. I don't know how it would be feasible if you weren't a stay at home parent. We live in Texas where humidity is a part of everyday life but it takes longer than I expected for everything to dry. I've been wringing things out pretty well too. How is someone who works outside the home, suppose to come home, make dinner for the family, put them to bed, clean up, THEN handwash diapers? I've noticed it takes me awhile to get everything folded and organized. Perhaps that is because I have three little one vying for my attention.

I do feel like I go to bed feeling accomplished. But in the back of my mind there is this little voice that is saying "Are they REALLY clean?" My husband pointed out to me that just because we put things in the "magic washing machine", we (as a society) think nothing else will do. After all, machines clean out dishes, they clean our clothes and are involved in almost every aspect of our daily lives. However,I think know that I can clean diapers just as well, if not more thoroughly than a machine!

James has used the potty today and was doing really well last night so hopefully I won't have as much laundry to do tonight!

Tomorrow I'll be talking about the different kinds of flats I've been using and how they are holding up!

BTW, It's not to late to join, if you'd like. For more info and full rules, click here.

Day 1 post here
Day 2 post here


Day 2 of Flats and Handwashing Challenge

May 24th, 2011

Recap Day 1:

We had a full day with outings and all. I had a doctors apppointment in the morning and then lunch with a friend after that. We started the morning off with an alternate kite folded blanket and Baby Bee Bop cover for Charlotte and James was just in a blanket turned flat with that same fold. (See below for pictures). Since James is learning to use the potty, we don't put covers on him as much. This also saves me some laundry! I changed them both before we went out for our errands into pad folded flats with covers (a Cheeky Diapers Cover and the Wonder Wrap).

The pad folded diapers held up pretty well for Charlotte. I changed her about 2.5-3 hours later and no leaks. James was another story. We met a friend at the park for lunch and the kids got to playing and I got to talking and forgot about changing him. About 3 hours after his last change he ran over for a drink of water and I noticed a wet spot on his pants. I changed his pants and the cover was soaked! I just didn't change him in time to catch it. In my hast to get ready, I didn't pack anymore covers thinking, "I'll just change the flats". Luckily, I had a wetbag in the car that I keep one or two cloth diapers in that are not my favorites. So I kinda cheated by putting James in a pocket. It was all I had with my though. The little guy fell asleep in the car on the way home and I let him nap in the pocket. Charlotte napped great with no leaks!

I was awaiting night time to see how everything would go. I put James in a Koala Kuddles folded in half lengthwise, folded in half again lengthwise, folded in half downwards then folded about 4 inches down then folding it lengthwise to make a pad like shape and put into a Little Beetles wool cover. Charlotte was in a Koala Kuddles folded with the alternative kite fold and in the Baby Bee Bop cover. Charlotte goes to bed around 9:30 or 10pm. I change her before I go to bed around midnight and usually this lasts until morning (8:30am). For her long stretch at night she was in an alternative kite folded Koala Kuddles with a Sustainablebabyish soaker. I noticed that around 6:00am or so, Charlotte's wool cover was starting to feel damp. I knew it wasn't going to make it until morning so I changed her into a pad folded flat with a Softbums Echo cover. That stayed nice and dry!


I decided that I was going to handwash without the use of any special aids (i.e. plungers, buckets, or tools). I wanted to use the things that I had on hand. I'd say it went pretty well. I washed all of the diaper laundry that had accumulated during the day by hand in the tub. My wash routine included:
  • Pre rinse all poopy diapers with the detachable showerhead by hand
  • Fill tub about 1/3 way with cool water. Let soak for awhile with intetrmitant agitation by hand.
  • Drain and wring out water by hand
  • Fill tub 1/3 way with hot water and some tea tree oil and Dr. Bonner's Castile Soap
  • Agitate by hand (water was hot!!) and let soak about 15 mins
  • Drain and wring out by hand
  • Fill tub 1/3 way with cool water for final rinse
  • Agitate by hand and let soak for 5 minutes
  • Drain and wring everything out by hand.
Even though it was 12:30am, I went out and put the flats and covers on the line. I hung the wipes to dry inside on the shower rod and towel racks. I hung the flats back to back so that when they were flapping in the wind, it would act like a tumble dry so they wouldn't be too stiff. Everything dried well and wasn't stiff! Plus they smelled like outside wonderfulness!

The whole handwashing process took a little longer than an hour, almost an hour and a half.
(I was doing other things in the meantime so I think the time could be shorter if I didn't multitask). I have to say, My arms and hands are feeling slightly sore today. My back and legs feel achy from being hunched over the tub in a weird position. It's good though; I feel productive. I can understand how this might not be the most desirable thing to do after a long day at work.

Here's the alternative kite fold that I'm really into:

(Image source)

I just put Charlotte in a Diaper bag fold (scroll down to the video) that I saw on Padded Tush Stats. Super trim. I like it. We'll see how long it holds up. I have found that with flats, I have to change more frequently because of the lack of absorbency. The fold you use also determines where the absorbency is. I just need to play with it. It easy to get a fold for a boy with the wetzone in the front but more difficult to get a wetzone in the middle for a girl.

How's Day 2 going for everyone? Any surprises?


Flats and Handwashing Challenge Starts Now!


Good morning everyone! Welcome to the Flats and Handwashing Challenge started by Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry. There has been a lot of buzz genereated by this article of families reusing disposable diapers because of the high cost. Families shouldn't have to choose between diapering their children and eating! I want you to know there is an alternative. Cloth diapers! And not just any cloth diapers...FLATS!

Flats are an excellent and inexpensive way to cloth diaper. The great things about flats is that they are truly one size fits all. The fit is all in how you fold them. Before this challenge, I didn't really understand what flat cloth diapers were. Flats are just one big piece of cotton, usually in the shape of a square or rectangle, that can be folded in different ways to form a diaper. They can either be pinned or snappied closed. You can also use the "pad" fold and lay them in covers.
The most common fabric they are made out of is birdseye cotton. You can find some that are a cotton/hemp blend.

I should mention that I'm going to do this challenge with Charlotte and James. We'll see how it works. Per the Rules over at Dirty Diaper Laundry, participants can use 5 diaper covers per child. So we will be using what we have around the house.

Above is a picture of what I'll be using:
Cost of Cloth:
  • 12 Flats: $17.95
  • 10 Muslin blankets: $21.65
  • 2 Snappis: $8.00
  • Covers Shown: $40.00 (I either bought the overs on super sale or they were given to me).
  • Total: $87.60
I'll also be using a Mother Ease Diaper Pail and various cloth wipes.
P.S. I picked up the Koala Kuddles blankets on a tip from a fellow Dirty Diaper Laundry Facebook follower. They are closing their store so all blankets are only $2.00! Plus, they are local to me, so I didn't have to pay shipping!

Seriously, under $90.00 to cloth diaper TWO kids! It would cost that much to diaper one baby for a month with disposables.

I've had the kids in Flats this morning with no glitches! Plus they look super cute!

Charlotte in a Koala Kuddles blanket-turned flat.

With a cover over same flat.

I'd like to thank Diaper Junction for making this challenge possible!

Are you participating in the challenge? How is your day going so far?
Look for tomorrows post about how our first time handwashing diapers went!

ProUtilitas Review and Giveaway

May 2nd, 2011

***Giveaway Closed***

For A Greener Home event, I wanted to showcase items to make your life and home a little more sustainable. Today's giveaway features pro Utilitas, an Etsy shop that specializes in making your kitchen greener. The kitchen is one of the biggest places where small changes can make a BIG difference. Most people use paper napkins, paper towels, disposable sponges and harsh cleansers in the kitchen. Using un-paper towels (towels usually made out of flannel that can do the job those small clean up jobs of paper towels but can be washed and re-used), you can save money and keep unnecessary one-use products out of landfills. Many dish sponges are made out of bio degradable materials but what about the manufacturing processes? How are they made?

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Megan, owner of pro Utilitas, uses upcycled wool to make kitchen sponges. By using upcycled wool she is helping to save 10 million tons of textile waste that make it into out landfills each year! The pads are serged for strength and durability. The wool is felted to have a slightly abrasive texture. Don't worry, it won't harm any dishes. Plus, she has some great colors (Shown above are harvest and green).

These scrubby pads can take a beating, let me tell you! We've used them for all sorts of clean up jobs around the house. Their main job is the dishes but the bath tubs and bathroom sinks have benefited from a good scrub. We have, of course, cleaned them in between using the dish scrubbers in the kitchen and bathroom. Caring for your scrubbers is easy. You can toss them in your washing machine and dryer along with a load of towels. We tried placing them in the top rack of the dishwasher and letting them air dry. That seemed to work pretty well.

The scrubby pads fit in your hand perfectly. They are 3"x4"and of varying thicknesses. The harvest scrubby pad I received was thicker than the light purple pad. I used the thicker pad to do more heavy duty jobs and the thinner one to do everyday work. The serging has held up really well; no signs of unraveling. I think these scrubby pads are a great alternative to the everyday kitchen sponge. They have proven to work just as well as other sponges I've used.

Upcycling gives a material a new life. Those old towels that you were going to throw away can be cut up and used for cleaning rags. The left over receiving blankets that have been in a box can be used for cloth wipes. You can turn an old wool sweater into a fabulous diaper cover. Let's do our part to reduce the amount of garbage and unnecessary waste that goes into our landfills.

The Giveaway:
Megan is going to give one of you a set of 2 scrubby pads from her shop.

Upcycled Wool Dish Scrubbers with Michael Miller backing

Mandatory Entry:
  • Visit ProUtilitas and tell me your favorite item.
  • Leave an email address where you can be reached.
Extra Entries:
  • Become a fan of ProUtilitas on Facebook.
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  • Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a URL. You can use: "#win a pair of wool scrubby sponges from ProUtilitas. Visit http://bit.ly/kruLHc to enter. #greenliving @knockedupnursin" (can be tweeted once a day until the giveaway ends)
  • Add ProUtilitas to your favs on Etsy.
  • Follow Knocked Up and Nursing via GFC *Plus 2 entries*
  • Subscribe to my blog via Email (See "connect" tab on top right)
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this page/or my blog.*Plus 5 entries* Leave a URL.
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If you have questions, don't hesitate to email me.

Giveaway will run from Monday May 2nd, 2011 at 11:30am (CST) until May 16th, 2011 at 11:59pm CST. Winner will be chosen using random.org's true random number generator upon the close of the contest. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hrs to respond or a new winner will be chosen. I was given a product to review and my opinions on the product are my own. Must be 18 year old to enter. Open to US and Canadian residents only. Subject to changes.