I can’t believe it is already the end of day three of the flats and hand washing challenge. For those of you who are not aware of this viral challenge (last I heard there is around 500 participates). Kim Rosas of the blog Dirty Diaper Laundry has issued a challenge to all cloth diapering parents to use flat diapers for a week and to only hand wash them. Crazy? Maybe. But I think this challenge means more than just lessening that amount of water we as cloth diaper users use. I believe it is about simplifying and to know that even on a tight budget people can cloth diaper.
The Equipment (all funds listed at in CDN and includes shipping if applicable)
- 12 OsoCozy Unbleached Birdseye flat diapers (courtesy of Granola Babies) = free but usually $48
- 4 bumkin covers (used off of spots on hyena cart) = $20
- 1 fishnoodle cover = $17
- 1 WAHM wet bag = $10
- 1 camp style washer (plunger and bucket) = $15
- 3 prefolds (for night-time) = $10
- 1 cloths drying rack (guess as bought a long time ago) = $5
- 1 plant hanger stake (had before – for drying rack) = $10
- 1 Snappi = $5
- 1 bag Rockin’ Green Hard Rock detergent = $20 (should last at least to 150 washes)
Total cost = $160 (plus cost of water)
All but the covers (and detergent) would be able to last till potty training and I am sure well into the next child if not two more. There is no way anyone who uses disposables (even the very cheapest) can say that they can diaper their child till potty training for under $200.
To prep the diapers I could of used a washer and dryer (as per the rules) but where is the fun in that?! So I got out the biggest pot I own and decided to boil them. By using the nice tutorial from Dirty Diaper Laundry I managed quite well. Here is a tip if you are going to try this out. When they say use a drop of dawn, just use a drop. More is not better in this case and it takes a lot more rinses to get the soap out.
Plan of Attack
I want to wash between 1-2 days so that my camp style washer is not over full. This also allows me to stick to having the bare minimum of flats; which for me would be a dozen. My daughter is going to a daycare (three days out of 7) where they have no problem using cloth. So my plan will be the same as when I send prefolds, just padfold them in the covers. For home time I plan on mostly using the origami fold for day time. The plan for nights is a prefold wrapped with a flat but I can see that changing, I am just very hesitant to use flats at night…I guess I am worried about having to change my daughter during the night. I am sure I will get braver as the challenge continues.
Well like most families today there are many unplanned stresses that just add to life. I think that the few I have encountered in the past days has added to my experience of flats and hand washing. At the start of the flats challenge I was on going into my 10th straight shift that night (I work as an RN) and my husband was trying to get seeding done (he is a full time farmer). Then came a small flash flood in our town, nothing too bad but over 2 inches in an hour was too much for our sump pump. So we ended up with a wet basement…and that was only day one of the challenge. Even though they were small stresses (nothing compared to some families) it still makes me proud that I am able to continue on with the challenge. We are a family that has two parents working and we still cloth diaper.
One of the biggest surprises to me was how easy it is to hand wash! Even after a night shift I managed to get the few (usually around 4 flats and 1 prefold) washed and hanging to dry in around half an hour. I can honestly say that I don’t miss using my washer/dryer. It helps that I do have other laundry to do that I have been neglecting. I usually do my diaper laundry first and it takes longer because it usually soaks for around 8 hours. The next was how supportive my husband has been of my crazy idea to join this challenge. He has always been supportive of my cloth diapering and even has become quite the pro at putting on a blow-out proof prefold. He even learned how to do an origami fold for when he gets her up in the am when I work.
After three days there are a few things that I am having a difficult time with:
I am having a very hard time figuring out the perfect amount of detergent. I use Rockin’ Green (Hard Rock) and with my washing machine (Top-Loader) I would use around 4 Tbsp. Well that is for a full load (12 diapers) and a lot more water. I used 2 Tbsp. my first wash for 4 flats, a couple covers, a few cloth wipes, and one prefold. Yes that was way too much detergent…it wasn’t too hard to get rid of but there was more water and plunging then necessary. So today I used 1 Tbsp. and I think it has worked out well. There were a lot of suds and this time it only took me two rinses to get no suds left.
2. The Plunger
My hubby put together my camp style washer and my plunger just fits through the hole in the top. Which he thought was a great thing because then no back splash. However, turns out if you have a plunger that has a wooden handle painted it will easily peel the paint off…which makes quite the mess during the plunging. So one tip is either make the hole for your plunger a tad bigger or scrape the paint off before you start.
3. My Lack of Energy
After working way above the amount of shifts I normally take on I was just plain tired. So really the motivation to stick with what you know is right can be difficult some days. Yes some days I just don’t want to do the laundry (even in a washing machine) but I know that we are saving money by cloth diapering our child (and hopefully more to come). But really when it comes down to cloth diapering is it really any harder than any other thing we do for our children? The meals we provide, the entertainment, and the love. All of that takes time, it just comes down to what we willing to do. Even with my lack of energy I want to cloth diaper and I want to be in this challenge.
Here are some of the changes that I am making to my plan of attack. I might not use my snappi anymore, I found that I can easily tie the diaper at the front and not have to worry about the snappi rubbing on my daughter’s skin. The second change is that I might try out a wet pail. This is a safe alternative for me because my camp style washer pail lid locks to the bucket (I even have to use a special tool to pry it open). I have noticed a lingering smell of ammonia before washing them today, so possibly a little vinegar in the soak might help as well. I also tried out two flats in a diaper bag fold as our night-time diaper tonight. I hope it works as good as our staple night-time two prefolds.
Good luck to everyone who is in the challenge! I hope we can make a difference and show that cloth diapering is affordable and easy (even for those without a washer/dryer)
– written by guest blogger, Cecette