Monday, May 20, 2013

Flats And Handwashing Challenge 2013: Day 1

Part of what I love about cloth diapering is the community aspect. I can be surrounded by total strangers and some random mom sees a diaper peeking out of my son's pants and says "Oh! You do cloth! What type of diapers do you use?" We make a special trip to go and buy diapers and I'm friends with the person I buy from. How many parents do you know that look forward to buying diapers?

Then of course there are big events like the Great Cloth Diaper Change (So far I haven't been able to go because of scheduling, but I want to!) and the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. These sort of events make diapering a fun activity instead of just a drudgery to be endured. This year I'm excited to be participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge and to be blogging about it!

Why Would You Sign Up To Handwash Diapers On Purpose?


The Flats and Handwashing Challenge, hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry, was started a 3 years ago after seeing what families might do if they couldn't afford diapers. This event helps raise cloth diaper awareness and show that there are great, affordable alternatives to disposables. Some families leave their children a long time in a diaper or even reuse disposable diapers because they can't afford to buy new ones. That isn't right for the child or the parents. This is a much better alternative, and I want to help spread the news!

I would say the most important reason I am participating in this event is to raise awareness and let people know this is doable. It isn't easy, and I don't plan to continue hand washing full time. But if I can do this for a week, what can be done for a longer period of time? Maybe someone who is intimidated by the idea of cloth diapering will see this and say, "Wow, she used flats and hand washed for a week and survived! Maybe I could try flat diapers and machine washing."

It Isn't A Huge Change For Me

I already use flats (a single layer of cloth folded to fit around baby) almost full time. So what is going on my baby won't really change from the norm this week. What will change is my wash routine. I will be handwashing diapers daily instead of machine washing every other day or so. I could wash less frequently, but smaller batches are easier.

Hand washing diapers take less time than machine washing, although usually the machine is the one taking the time instead of me. We have an HE washer and it isn't all that great for this task, so washing diapers is usually an all day process. If I hand wash, I will get the diapers cleaner than the machine as I pay more attention to details and washing doesn't take hours on end.

As far as the "ick" factor, I've found that it doesn't take long to become accustomed to dealing with all sorts of bodily fluids. I still intend to avoid touching poop if possible, but really, dealing with spit, snot, pee, poop and more is just part of parenting. It isn't something I seek out, but it is something I accept and it doesn't bother me so much anymore.

I Learn A Lot 

With so many people participating, there are lots of people to learn from! I have a little mini washboard, and I used it on my last vacation, but reading a post on facebook gave me a lot more ideas on how to use it to the best advantage. I also enjoy seeing the multitude of different folds that I can try out.

It Saves Money


Honestly, I will not be saving any money by participating in the event this week. All my utilities are included in my rent, so hand washing won't save me any money or time. But it won't cost any extra either. I already own all my flats and I intend to continue using them after the challenge is over.

Where I really save money is in the long term. Last time I was on vacation for a long weekend, I brought all my diapers, a little bit of detergent and a mini washboard. I washed diapers often enough to keep plenty available and ended up washing some clothes too after a long night (you know you love your kid when you are willing to clean up vomit at 2 am). Washing in a hotel sink and tub was way cheaper than using the laundromat downstairs.

For someone who is on a really tight budget and still wants to be able to enjoy children, this is an excellent option. Flat diapers are so versatile. I am using the same flats this year as last year, just with different folds. Flats don't get ruined by messed up wash routines as readily as some of the fancier diapers available. They are the cheapest way to go, and also the simplest in a lot of ways.

Emergency Preparedness

Isn't it better to know emergency skills before an emergency? I want to know I can live off of my food storage and that my supplies are in working order. Shouldn't diapers be the same? Besides, an emergency doesn't need to involve an earthquake, fire or natural disaster. An emergency can mean that my washer and dryer broke. Last year I sold my washer and dryer a week before we moved, I was glad to have the necessary skills to keep diapering!

Just last week I went to visit a friend and forgot to pack a diaper bag for more than a few hours. I had a total of two diapers with me, and one needed to stay on the child. I cleaned the spare diaper in the tub and tossed it in the dryer with some other things they had going in there. It meant that I didn't need to cut my visit short or rush to the store to buy diapers.

I Love a Challenge


Knowing that I can hand wash all my diapers is empowering. Last time we were looking for a place to rent, I knew a washer and dryer was desirable, but not a necessity. I don't have to worry about traveling with diapers. It is one of those cool accomplishments, like climbing a mountain or making bread from scratch.

Besides, is it too weird if I think it sounds like fun?

First Wash Of the Week!

I did some wash right after breakfast. We had only dirtied one diaper by then, but I had some from yesterday and last night that I wanted to wash too. Hence, the prefolds in the mix. One of the big changes this year vs. last year is that my Critter is a year older! Last year we hadn't started solids (which means everything was water soluble). This year he wants to participate too. So I have a helper as I wash stuff out.


We have a pretty nifty shower head, it makes rinsing a breeze! Since our toilet is right next to the bathtub, we also use it as a diaper sprayer to get off poop.

Washing with soap

My helper keeping preoccupied while I wash the diapers

My wonderful mini washboard. Fits perfect in a hotel sink too!

Rinsing after the wash. Critter wanted to help more and more as the process continued.

He saw I was grabbing the diapers to clean, so he helped by handing the sopping wet diapers to me. Over the edge of the tub onto my leg.

I'll pull out the drying rack later, but this works for now!

Other posts from the Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2013: 

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