Flats and Handwashing Challenge – Day 5


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 5: Flats Experience- Folds I love, Are they working, etc.

 Today I’ll be talking about some of the folds I like to use, and why I like them. Here’s a photo of the folds I’ve been using that get pinned on. For explanations of the folds and videos of them being done, check out this table over at Padded Tush Stats. 

From left to right, flat diaper folds: narrow airplane fold, diaper bag fold, kite fold with jelly rolled legs, narrow neat fold.

From left to right, flat diaper folds: narrow airplane fold, diaper bag fold, kite fold with jelly rolled legs, narrow neat fold.

One of the deciding factors for which fold I’ll use is which brand of flat diaper I’m using. As you can see below, one of the flats is more rectangular, and the other is more square. (Though it doesn’t show very well…my Osocozy flats have about a 3″ difference between the long & short sides, where the Imagine flats only have about a 1″ difference between the sides. The overall sizes of the flats are similar, it’s just the proportions that are different.

Imagine flat behind an Osocozy flat to show size difference.

Two flats hung together to show size/proportional difference.

I like the narrow airplane fold for either of the flats because it’s pretty forgiving. It’s also easy to adjust the rise, and puts a lot of layers where my boy needs them. It also sort of creates a pocket in the back for solid waste. (My little guy doesn’t yet have “solid” bowel movements, but it still helps.) I don’t particularly like how the hip tabs end up, but it works.

The diaper bag fold is also very easy for either of the flats. It’s easy to adjust the hips and rise as you fold it, and again, puts a lot of absorbency where my little guy needs it. It also is easy to fold ahead of time and stack, say, in a diaper bag! I get a pretty decent fit with this fold, and there is a decent pocket in the back to catch solid waste. This is also the easiest fold to fold “in the air” if you don’t have a flat surface to fold on.

The kite fold is less forgiving if your sides are uneven, but I actually prefer it with the Osocozy flats. With there being about 3″ excess on one side, it’s easy to fold that in to make the diaper square, and continue from there. With only 1″ of excess on the Imagine flats it’s difficult to make that little bit stay folded over. I like to “jelly roll” the legs in because it contains not so solid waste very well. I prefer this fold when I know he might be having a bowel movement soon. It’s trickier to get folded, or to fold in advance, but I’ve found that clipping a clothespin to the tabs keeps it closed and folded.

The narrow neat fold is pretty easy with either flat, but works a little bit better with the Imagine flats, since they’re closer to square. This one can get quite a few layers of absorbency in the front, and also creates a bit of a pocket in the back. It’s not a difficult fold, but it’s hard to fold on the fly.

The easiest fold is the pad fold, which I use doubled up at night. Having absorbency throughout works well since he sleeps on his back, and not having to deal with pins or a Snappi in the middle of the night is priceless. He also rarely has a bowel movement at night, so a pocket to catch that isn’t necessary.

Flats Handwashing Challenge (2)

Two padfolded flats tucked into a cover. All set for bedtime!

The padfold is the bulkiest of the folds, but as you can see below, it’s not really bulkier than a stuffed pocket diaper. The trifolded prefold (I use the Osocozy infant size) gives 16 layers of absorbency. Two padfolded flats give 24 layers without much (if any) added bulk.

On the left: a cover stuffed with two padfolded flats. On the right: a BumGenius pocket diaper stuffed with a trifolded prefold diaper. They're snapped to  equivalent sizes.

On the left: a cover stuffed with two padfolded flats. On the right: a BumGenius pocket diaper stuffed with a trifolded prefold diaper. They’re snapped to equivalent sizes.

One perk of hang drying the flats over bars on a drying rack is that there’s a crease showing where the middle of the diaper is. This helps a bit when doing many of the folds, as anyone who’s ever done origami can relate to. If the diapers are a little bit stiff that helps with the folds too, since otherwise it can be too soft to really hold the folds between steps.

The fold I use most is the diaper bag fold, and since it’s fairly easy to fold it’s also quick, so definitely one I could do long term. So far they’ve all done the job. There was one instance where his bowel movement seeped up the FRONT of the diaper and out the waist, but he was in his jumper when he went, so it was pushed that way. It would have happened with any fold, unless I’d had it much tighter around his waist. I just try to make sure he’s not in his jumper when I expect him to go, or if I hear him going, I take him out of the jumper. (For any international readers: by “jumper” I mean an excercise bouncer that lets him jump while being supported in a sort of seat, not an article of clothing.)

I just realized that I didn’t share how many diapers I used/washed in yesterday’s post, so I’ll share it now! Yesterday’s load was 14 diapers, 3 covers, and 5 wipes. This was more than I’d recommend doing at one time. I had to do an extra cycle to get the water clear and feel that things were clean. The load for today was 10 diapers, 3 wipes, and 4 covers. That’s definitely a more manageable size.

What are your thoughts on the various diaper folds? What’s easiest for you, or what would you try?

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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4 Responses to “Flats and Handwashing Challenge – Day 5”

  1. Mama's Happy Hive Says:

    Are flats different than inserts? How long does it take to wash and fold everything? Do you wash everyday?

    • AmyKathryn Says:

      Flats can be used as inserts, but usually inserts are several layers of absorbent fabric (microfiber, cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc.) that are sewn together into a pad. This makes them harder to get clean, and they take longer to dry.

      Washing the way I am for the challenge, I often get sidetracked during the “soak” periods, so it can take several hours from start to finish. I think the fact that it’s not urgent contributes to this. If I don’t get sidetracked, it takes about minutes total. (The numbers below reflect a load of 12 diapers, which is in our normal range, and getting ready with the diaper bag fold.)

      Filling the bucket – 2 minutes (x3) = 6 minutes
      Agitation – 2 minutes (x 6) = 12 minutes
      Draining & squeezing – about 4 diapers/minute is 3 minutes (x3) = 9 minutes
      Soaking – 10-30 minutes (x3) = 30-90 minutes
      Final squeeze and rolling in the towel = 5 minutes
      Hanging to dry = 2 minutes
      Folding to be ready for changes – 2 diapers/minute = 6 minutes
      TOTAL = 40 minutes of active involvement, 70-130 minutes from start to finish (including the soaks.)

      For this challenge I am washing every day. When I use my washer I wash every other day most of the time.

  2. Hillary Says:

    How often do you have to change your baby with a flat? Do you just use one flat in the daytime? Thanks! Love reading about this challenge!

    • AmyKathryn Says:

      My baby lets me know every time he goes (except at night,) so he gets changed pretty frequently. He goes overnight with the two flats, then has another pretty wet diaper after that, then an average of one wet diaper per feeding and a couple of messy diapers. He does the same in the modern cloth diapers, and also in disposables (when I can’t even tell he’s wet until I change him and can tell there’s a weight difference in the diaper.) He’s just really sensitive I guess! 🙂 If he was less sensitive (so that a “stay dry” material would help,) I might use fleece liners with the flats, but in his case it would just be extra laundry. Most people recommend changing every two hours I think. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! It’s been a good experience for me too!

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