Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 1 of the Flats and Handwash Challenge

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! 

 This is a flannel receiving blanket used as a flat diaper.

As I mentioned before, I am participating in the challenge in order to see for myself how feasible it is to hand wash diapers. I would love to support anyone who wants to use cloth diapers, and I want to know whether cloth diapers could be the answer, no matter one's circumstances.

I feel nervous about a few things going into this challenge. First, I was nervous about making flat diapers last us through the night. In the rules for the challenge everyone is allowed one "night time diaper", that is a heavy duty diaper of your choice, that you know will last your child through the night. But, being a bit stubborn, and wanting to make this experience more "realistic" (more as though I truly couldn't afford any fancy diapers), I was determined to make flats work. Well, as it turns out, for practical reasons I have been using flats at night this past week. And they have worked beautifully! So, that is one challenge overcome!

Another thing that is making me nervous is wondering whether I have enough flats to get me through to wash day. I am hoping to wash every other day. I don't usually use flats so I didn't want to make a big investment. I did have a few on hand just to try them out and to use for extra absorbency, and I did buy a few more inexpensive ones, but I don't think I have a full stash of flats.  I will need diapers for one night, one day, another night and wash day.  Hmm, writing it out like that, I am not sure I do have enough. I have 28 flats in all; 19 "Target flats" (flour sack dish towels), 2 hemp and cotton Hemp Babies xl diaper inserts, 1 flannel receiving blanket (see photo above), and 6 surgery drapes (I will include pictures of all of these throughout the week). That sounds like a lot, but I use two flats for each change and three for each diaper at night (usually 2 per night). I did notice that in the DDL tips section it mentions washing after each change so that the laundry doesn't build up. Maybe I will incorporate that into my routine, and then do one big wash every other day. We'll see how it goes!

The other thing that makes me nervous is not getting the diapers clean enough. I usually think of handwashing for those fancy clothes that never really get dirty. I do have a wash board, and I did change up my dirty diaper storage system a bit in ways I think will help. Again, we will have to see how it goes!

Another eventuality that has come up: since we have had beautiful whether these past months, I was fully intending to dry my flats outside on a makeshift line. But of course, we woke up this morning to a drizzly humid rain. And it doesn't promise to be any better all week.

So these are all the things that I am nervous, but excited, to be facing this week.


  1. Don't be concerned you aren't getting them clean enough! Whenever I hand wash my diapers I am amazed by how much cleaner I feel like they are than when I use the washer. There's just something about being so up close and personal with each diaper that you know you are getting them really clean.

  2. I think that hand washing seems to get them clean. Plus, after putting in that much effort, I desperately want to believe that they are SUPER-clean. Actually my first load wasn't that bad, but it was all pee diapers...