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! :)