Monday, May 30, 2011

What I learned from the Flats & Handwashing Challenge!

Woohoo, I'm finally done with Dirty Diaper Laundry's Flats & Handwashing Challenge! (For info about the challenge, you can view Dirty Diaper Laundry's site, my blog post about my preparation, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, & Day 7. )

Call me strange but I found this challenge to be really enjoyable. There was something meditative about handwashing diapers, as generations and cultures around the world have done and still do. I loved finding how quickly the flat diapers dried and how easy they laid flat and folded compared to wrinkled dryer-dried flats.

It was AMAZING to view all the McLinky'd blogs and follow the other participants in this week-long journey together. I found out some great tips from them and was inspired by so many innovative parents. One mom, Heather of Milk Bubbles, challenged herself further and even transformed everyday items around the house (i.e., t-shirts, a rain poncho, and fleece scarf) into diaper apparel for a total cost of $0!

Would I do it again?

Only if I have to. =) As much as I took pleasure in this challenge, I totally missed all of El's cute pocket diapers. And I also missed my washer and dryer and how super simple it is to wash diapers. Seriously, I find it easier to wash diapers than I do regular clothes laundry as there is no sorting of colors or folding. I'd rather do diaper laundry than any other load of laundry and would sooner do this than any other household chore!

I do foresee needing to hand wash as we get to the point of "potty learning." It would be super wasteful to only wash one or two diapers in one load per week. I imagine I could rinse out any wet diapers or training pants before tossing into the diaper pail and then washing with the whites. However, with soiled diapers, I would much rather hand wash those individually than mix them with our clothes, even though I know that I wash the diapers cleaner than any other load of laundry.

I have and will continue to hand wash while traveling. And in a dire case of an emergency, God forbid, I know that I am prepared to handwash diapers and even clothes.

Did I really only stick to the rules of FLATS ONLY, 5 COVERS, AND HANDWASHING ONLY?

I sure did handwash!!! Granted, I didn't wash everyday, as was recommended (or at least every other day) and had actually been able to go about 4 days before needing to wash. I ended up washing 4 times with my last time being last night, though I could have just waited until this morning to wash in the morning. It's not that I had an exorbitant amount of flats as I realize that I'm not able to locate a handful at the moment that are probably at one of the grandparents' homes. If I were to do this challenge all over again, I would use 1.5 dozen rather than 1 dozen.

BUT, the reason I didn't need to wash the first four days is because of El's trips to Grandma and Lola's house. There were a couple of occasions in which I picked up El in either a disposable training pant or pocket diaper. Also, Lola admitted handwashing a couple of the diapers herself and probably the poopy ones. Lola and Grandma are nice enough to rinse out #2s before tossing into the wet bag for me. Lucky me! There was not one single time that I had to deal with any soiled diapers. =) That could be why the challenge was cinch for me! That and El only used about 3-5 diapers per day.

I do admit, however, that I used more than 5 diaper covers. With house hopping between both Grandparents' homes, it really is necessary to leave sets of clothing, diapers, etc. at each house. My fave cover, the Thirsties duo wrap cover in Blackbird print, was left at Grandma's for most of the week. I ended up picking up the Blueberry Coveralls cover for the rest of the week. In total, I used about 6 covers.

What did I learn?

Most people think of cloth diapering as flat/prefold diapers that need to be pinned with rubber pants as a cover. They also think that a professional weekly delivery/washing service or having access to a washer/dryer is necessary. Both these assumptions are WRONG!

For many struggling families, it is difficult to purchase food on the table, much less disposable diapers. Many of those folks don't know how much they can save by cloth diapering and/or don't have the education about how cloth diapering can be simple and doable.

I learned that it is totally possible to have a complete diaper stash for less than $100. I paid about $50 for the supplies I used this past week. You can cloth diaper full-time and wash them by hand. It is actually easier than I thought as I spent no more than 25 minutes per load of cloth diapers.

However, I know that for a single parent, especially if there are multiple children, an extra 25 minutes might be next to impossible. Disposables might be appealing BUT with what I know now, I think it would still be totally worth it to use cloth. It could mean a difference of between $1500-$3000 for the time each child is in diapers!!! And the supplies for one child can be passed down to the next.

How to Cloth Diaper for Dirt Cheap!

If I was really pinching pennies but still had $100 to spend, I would purchase the following to diaper one child: (I could make smaller purchases of these items to slowly build up to this stash)
  • 3-4 dozen flats/prefolds
  • 6-8 newborn covers
  • 6-8 one size covers
  • 2 Snappi fasteners
If I had absolutely NO money, I could still cloth diaper for next to nothing with the following:
  • 3-4 dozen flats/prefolds made from old t-shirts, old bedsheets, etc. repurposed into flats (either from my own family's clothing or at the local thrift store) and receiving blankets (most folks get tons of these at their showers but these can also be purchased very cheaply at thrift stores)
  • 2 Snappi fasteners purchased second hand on
  • 6-8 covers, either the Dappi brand which are very affordable or second hand from, baby consignment sales; fleece pants as waterproof covers after the baby is done with the exclusively breastfed poop stage
This is more than enough for 3-5 days between washings. I would handwash and hang dry each cover as it got soiled and rinse each diaper thoroughly until wash day, bringing the massive load to the laundromat. Otherwise, I might consider buying a "wonder wash" or a "breathing washer" to wash at home.

After the Challenge

Kim of Dirty Diaper Laundry has encouraged all the participants to consider donating their flats and other types of diapers to charities, including Giving Diapers, Giving Hope. I plan to make a donation as all the diapers not currently being used by El are being used by friends for their babe and we also plan to use these diapers for the next one, when the time comes.

She also recommends volunteering our time to teach classes or workshops at local community organizations, such as the WIC office, churches, and food pantries. Though I can't spare the time right now, this is something I might want to do down the road. Whenever people ask about cloth diapering, I am always eager to send them to the right resources and have an email that I forward to them.

In our own home, I know that we will continue to use flats. We normally use flats padfolded into pocket diapers and flats padfolded into covers. I see myself using the flats padfolded into covers more often now so as to allow El to feel wetness better since our Bumgenius pockets have a stay-dry lining. We'll be doing this for the next couple of weeks until school gets out and I'm on summer vacation. At that time, we'll be officially starting potty training!!!

Check out other participants' blogs!


  1. I did the challenge and wonder if I won the most poopy diapers award. You never had to deal with a poopy dipe?? Lucky girl!! I had at least 8 a day with my 2 boys!

  2. @The Titmi, I seriously know how lucky I am that I didn't deal with any poop. Had I and this blog post would probably be different! =)