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May 24, 2013

Flats Challenge Day 4: How's The Handwashing?

Well Day 4 of the Flats Challenge is done, and overall it went pretty well. One of my biggest worries before the Flats Challenge was how our overnight diapering would go with Ava being such a heavy wetter. The first three nights of the challenge I had used my Sweet Bobbins flats with another flat pad folded as an insert. This worked amazing, BUT... when I went this evening to get my Sweet Bobbins flats off the indoor drying rack I discovered something sad. They weren't dry! Even the one that I washed yesterday morning was still dampish on the line. So we are trying out a new combo for tonight and I am really nervous. I really dislike changing my overnight diapering routine because I really love waking up to dry sheets! I'll let you know tomorrow how it went! It is really interesting to me how my gut reaction to a damp diaper on a line is "oh, I'll just throw it in the dryer for a second." The Flats Challenge is really forcing me to see just how long things take to dry on a line when it is humid and rainy out!

The topic for Day 4 is "How is the Handwashing?" and I am happy to be able to tell you all about my hand washing routine that I am learning and how it is going. I'll start off by telling you that where I live we have really hard water and I have learned to add an extra wash cycle and rinse to my regular washing machine diaper loads, so when I read Kim's washing routine for her bucket washer I knew I might have to add a couple extra steps to mine.

This is my camp washer set up. I bought a plunger, 5 gallon bucket, and lid from a hardware store for about $9. Ben helped me drill a one inch hole in the center of the lid, and then he drilled 3/8" holes all around the plunger to allow water to pass through easier.

I decided to forego using my wet bags for the challenge. It would just be one extra thing to wash and wring out every day and it is easy for me to walk from Ava's bedroom, where I change her, to the bathroom, where my bucket is, and just dump the diapers in the bucket.

This picture was my first load in the camp washer. I washed seven flats and four covers the first time, and I definitely recommend smaller loads! The easiest load I have washed so far had only four flats in it and one cover. When I am ready to wash the diapers I cover them with cold water and use the plunger to agitate for a little bit. Then I dump the cold rinse water out in the tub, add my soap to the bucket, and fill it with hot water.

Once the hot water covers the diapers enough I put the lid on snugly and begin agitating the plunger. I have been setting a timer for five minutes for this step because let me tell you, five minutes feels like forever when you are hand washing. Once my time is up I drain the water again, do a quick cold rinse with agitation, drain, and do another hot wash. Lastly I do two cold rinses and make sure the water is running clear from the bucket. Once the diapers are clean and drained I take each one and twist it up and wring it out as good as I possibly can. The more water you can get out in this step the quicker they will dry. As I said above, if your water is less hard you can probably do a wash routine like Kim and do a cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse.

The first day that I washed and wrung out the diapers I really regretted not wearing the rubber gloves I had. My poor hand was red and raw from wringing out so many diapers! The second wash day I wore the gloves and it helped quite a bit with pain from wringing the diapers, although I was disappointed to find that the gloves almost immediately got water splashed in them.

Once the diapers are wrung out thoroughly, you just hang them either outside on a clothesline or inside on a drying rack. I found that my flats were completely dry from several hours outside on the clothesline on a hot day, but like I said above the flats that were drying indoors still have a ways to go.

Overall, I feel like hand washing has gone well. My camp bucket did suffer a casualty, though. During my second load in the camp washer the lid decided it had had enough of the plunging and it cracked. I think I can fix it with a shim and a couple small bolts, but there are two cracks in the lid starting at the center hole. I was pretty bummed that it didn't last as well as I had assumed it would. It still functions, but it does splash more. I have just left the lid off a few times as well, but I find that I don't agitate the diapers as well with the lid off because I am too worried about getting splashed in the face with dirty wash water! The diapers are getting nice and clean though, with no stinks at all! (Something I can't say for my washing machine in recent weeks, but that's another story.)

I won't lie to you: hand washing is not all fun and games, and it is not as easy as tossing your diapers in the washing machine and pressing start. I do have a couple small blisters on my hands from hand washing that I'm sure would turn to callouses if I continued to hand wash. I did get dirty-ish water splashed in my face this morning while agitating the diapers. It is hard to occupy my 16 month old for 35 minutes while I wash her diapers. This morning there were three diarrhea diapers in the wash so it took even longer.


I am so happy that I have learned this skill. I feel like the ability to hand wash Ava's diapers has given me freedom from feeling tied to a washer and dryer. If we want to go on a road trip, this is a fabulous skill. If we lose power, I can still diaper Ava with this skill. If my washer breaks, if I have washing issues with the washing machine, if we ever live somewhere with no washer. It is just a very good and satisfying feeling to know that I can do cloth diapers with little to no technology. I feel like I've tapped in to a heritage of diaper washing mamas that goes back thousands of years, and I love that I now have this skill that I can pass on to mamas in need who can truly benefit from it.


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