Monday, May 21, 2012

Flats & Handwash Challenge: Day 1 - Why Am I Doing This?

I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.  You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting the announcement post.  This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world!  

What the heck have I gotten myself into?! As you know by now, I have signed up to take the Flats and Handwashing Challenge where I will only use flat diapers and covers to diaper my baby for a week while only being able to hand wash and line dry them. No machines allowed! (Except for hand powered ones, like a wonder wash or a salad spinner). 

This challenge is wonderful as Kim Rosas, the owner of Dirty Diaper Laundry, will donate $1 to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope for every person who successfully completes the challenge (up to $200). Now Kelly Wels, author of Changing Diapers, will also donate the same amount. This challenge is to show that you can diaper without washing facilities and with a low income. You can cloth diaper full time for about $50 using flats with a few covers, or you can lower that price by using things around your house such as flannel receiving blankets, old t-shirts, linen dish cloths, etc. You can even make your own covers with thrifted fleece shirts or pants or wool sweaters. It's amazing how cheap diapers can be! Especially in a time where you hear on the news how people are leaving babies in disposable diapers for longer than they should or are trying to wash and reuse disposable diapers in an effort to save money.

Let's get back to the topic at hand: Why am I taking this challenge and why would I want to use flats? Well, for a few reasons actually.
* Reason One is that we live in an area prone to hurricanes and I want to know that I will be able to comfortably diaper my baby in the event of a power outage with little water available while disposables are flying off the shelves of any stores that may be open.
* Reason Two is that Mister and I like to travel and I want to know that I don't have to resort to buying disposables or taking an entire extra suitcase just for diapers. Flat diapers and covers fold down neatly and take little space. Flats are easily hand washed since they are only one layer so I won't have to worry about my wash routine, and they dry quickly. This makes them perfect for travel!
* Reason Three is price. Flats are cheap! They're typically $1-$2 each. Think about it, you'll only need 1 or 2 dozen to diaper your baby full-time! I'm currently de-stashing and getting away from some of my fancier diapers and going back to basics with flats and prefolds. I like how cheap they are, that they are natural cotton, and that they wash up nicely and easily, and dry quickly.
* Reason Four is the versatility. Flat diapers really are One Size Fits All. You can manipulate that one piece of cloth in many ways to customize it just for your baby. You can make it fit any size from newborn to small child and you can adjust where the layers are to give you absorbency and protection where your little one needs it most. Again, I'd like to move away from my fancier diapers and simplify to the amazing abilities of flat diapers!

You may say that flats are boring compared to the fancy All in One's or Pocket diapers out there. Not so, I say! You can dye them (as I plan to do tomorrow or the next day) to make the flats themselves pretty. Don't forget, most of the time you'll be covering them up with a cover. You can have pretty covers! My covers are much prettier than any AIO or Pocket that I've owned. Now that we've learned that MissE's skin has an adversity to the non-breathability of PUL, we use mostly wool, fleece, and Green Line's (which are Ultrex), and I've been looking up sewing patterns to make some fleece covers and I've been knitting her more wool covers. I love it! Oh hand knitted wool, you are so pretty, how I adore thee....

Anyway, so it's not even noon on Day 1 and I've already had quite a mess to deal with this morning. We started the challenge last night by putting her in a large flat Origami folded with a small flat pad folded inside of it with a Disana wool soaker over it. It worked beautifully! But of course, first thing this morning before I could get her into a new diaper, MissE decided to... um... you know... So now I have to hand wash 2 messy flats and it's all over my only night-worthy wool cover. I guess we'll be getting by with fleece at night for the next couple of days. 

I give MissE a bath and get to work! I pull out my new wash board and fill the sink with warm water. I scrub away as much as I can by hand, then drain and rinse, then fill the sink again with hot water and detergent. I got to scrubbin'! It wasn't all that hard really, but I was worried about staining so even after they were sufficiently clean, no smell, and rinsing clear, I kept scrubbing the stained spots. I finally gave up and cleaned everything up, rinsed the flats, and cleaned the sink. I then hung the flats outside on the line to dry. In less than an hour the stains were gone! Oh the wonderful bleaching powers of the sun! I always underestimate the sun for some reason.

MissE is now napping in one of her new GMD large unbleached flats in an Airplane Fold snappi'd on with a RagaBabe 2-step shell in the Daisy print. I'm now off to try to get some housework done before she wakes up!

If you'd like to follow others who are doing the challenge as well, click any of the links below!


  1. Can't wait to see what they look like dyed!

  2. Great idea about the natural disaster! Always good to know in case you lost power...never thought of that:-) Last year we had a huge storm hit new england, and most of our state was without power for 1 week! I don't know what I would have done!!! LOL

    1. I know the feeling! I couldn't imagine not having diapers for that long!

  3. Now I'm going to have to put a diaper in my salad spinner....