Flats and Handwashing Challenge – Day 3


Check out the rules here!

Check out the rules here!

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge is an annual event started in 2011 by DirtyDiaperLaundry.com  to raise awareness about how cloth diapering can be done economically and with minimal resources by almost anyone. Cloth diapering can allow families to allocate more resources to food and other necessities, without worrying about affording a product that is literally designed to be thrown out.

Day 3 :  Open Topic – Flats and Handwashing vs. Normal Routine

Today I’m comparing the routine of the challenge to that of my normal cloth diapering. For the challenge we are using only flats and covers. I do this occasionally, but also use pocket diapers stuffed with prefolds that are tri-folded, and all-in-two diapers that have natural fiber inserts that snap in.

Efficiency during a change: The all-in-two style definitely wins here. When taking the diaper off you can drop it into the pail without taking the insert off, and therefore after being washed and dried they are easily put back on the baby. Pockets aren’t too much more trouble except they need to be stuffed and unstuffed. Some ways of using flats are almost as easy, and they can be the stuffing for a pocket diaper too. Pinning flats on isn’t difficult after a few changes, but putting a cover over it adds a step. Some people go coverless at home, but that doesn’t work for us.

Trimness: Not counting bedtime diapers, flats can be very trim. Pocket diapers and all-in-two diapers tend to have a thick pad that runs the length of the diaper. Some are made from fibers that are less bulky and more absorbent, but still run the length of the diaper. Flats can be folded so that most of the fabric and absorbency is where it’s needed. This leaves the backside much less bulky which helps clothes fit better. (I’m thinking that once the baby is learning to stand and walk the padding might be a good thing though!) There’ll be more about folding flats later in the week.

Laundry: Usually I wash diapers every other day, which makes one good load for our high efficiency front loading washing machine. A lot of people have trouble getting their diapers clean in this type of washer since there’s not as much agitation as the older top loading washers. Having hard water adds another level of difficulty, and if we were using microfiber inserts they would be difficult to get clean enough. Since we use natural fibers, I get away with doing a warm prewash that takes about half an hour, then I add detergent and run a hot wash with an extra wash and rinse. That takes about 80 minutes. Then I hang dry, unless I need them sooner, in which case I’ll put them in the dryer on low. Hand washing the flats I think takes less total time, but a little more interactive time. I haven’t timed everything just yet, but there will be more about the laundry routine later in the week. The flats definitely dry faster. By morning they’re always dry for me, while my prefolds and inserts might take 24 hours to dry, especially if the heater isn’t on.

In general, there are a few differences I’ve noticed daily between following the challenge and what we usually do. Diaper changes might take a little bit longer, depending on the folds used and if they were folded ahead of time. The diaper bag is lighter since I only need to carry a couple of covers with however many flats. Hand washing helps incorporate a bit more physical activity into my day. I don’t have to go in the garage to wash diapers, which means I don’t have to freeze or cook while doing laundry. So far I think this is feasible as a full time diapering option.

My fancy washing machine!

My fancy washing machine!

The wash load yesterday (after a full 24 hours of using flats) was 13 flats, 3 covers, 4 wipes. I don’t think I’d wash more than this at one time…it started binding up on the plunger.

What is your usual routine, and what would you be concerned about if you were to switch to flats and washing by hand?

To read other people’s experiences with the challenge, check out DirtyDiaperLaundry.com’s post and the link-up at the bottom of her post.


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8 Responses to “Flats and Handwashing Challenge – Day 3”

  1. onehotmama2005 Says:

    Congratulations! I nominated you for the LIEBSTER AWARD. To find out more details about this award please check: http://onehotmama2005.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/328/
    Happy Blogging,

  2. Annemarie Says:

    What amazes me…how the options have changed! “When I was a young mom” (read with creaking mental voice, okay?) we had cloth diapers which I guess were flats, and that was it. Also disposables of course. I don’t remember any kind of outer-layer protective devices. Likely they existed, we just didn’t have them. I do remember lots of naked babies wandering around in Philly in the summer — too hot and humid to put diapers on the kids. And our friend Saranne howling with laughter when Joe picked our daughter up and she went to the bathroom on him.

  3. Mama's Happy Hive Says:

    I like the bucket and plunger idea!

  4. Juliette Sasek Says:

    This as been interesting to read and Started me thinking about how I could do something similar. I have a diaper pail that could double as a wash pail if I just would get around to it. Now, where did I put that plunger I bought awhile back, when I thought about doing laundry by hand?

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