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May 27, 2013

Flats Challenge Day 7: What Did I Learn?

Today was the seventh day of the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats and Handwashing Challenge. The challenge officially ends for the participants when we change our babies into their nighttime diaper. Ava is now down to sleep in her normal non-flats-challenge nighttime diaper and the last load of handwash flats and covers are hanging on the drying rack, so we have officially completed the 2013 Flats Challenge. This post is a recap of sorts, to look at what I learned from the challenge and think about flats as a diapering option.

Last flat of the challenge: a Rebourne Clothing birdseye flat folded in an Ava Fold.

The Flats Challenge seemed to go by really quickly for me. I felt like it made my week very busy, though that was more from blogging every day than from handwashing every day to be honest. I did a total of seven loads of handwashed diapers this past week, not counting wool wraps. By the third day of handwashing I felt like it had become more of a habit and less of a chore. There was something calming about taking that half an hour a day to wash diapers in the camp washer. It gave me a chance to think and zone out a little. I really liked the feeling of connection to my ancestors that I felt while handwashing. Even though it was hard work each and every time, and my hands and back are certainly sore, it is cool to know that if my family needed it I could do this to save us money.

The last load in the camp washer.

Learning to handwash flats gave me an opportunity to rethink both my cloth diaper stash and the way I wash them. After finding out how simple flats can be, I am going to be destashing most of my all-in-ones and pockets and using mainly prefolds and flats from now on. I also thought through how my diapers are washed in the wash machine and realized that if I switch completely to flats and prefolds I should be able to cut back quite a bit on the water and time that my washing machine uses to do a load of diapers.

The last load of the flats challenge hung up to dry.

I do think that using flats and covers is a very viable option for anyone who is struggling to diaper their child. Every baby deserves clean diapers and if cost is the struggle for a family, then cloth diapers just might be the solution. A family without a washing machine and without the finances for disposables could benefit hugely from information about using flats and handwashing them. I know it is work, but for us it really only added about 30-45 minutes of work to my day. If I ever found myself in a situation where handwashing was my only choice, I would do it gladly. Just knowing that my hard work would show up so tangibly as extra money in our budget would be the best motivation for me.

I think the thing to keep in mind with the different options for diapering is that your life and situation is unique to you. Your hard is hard. Whether you are saving your family money via a cloth stash of all-in-ones, or whether you find yourself needing to handwash a small stash of upcycled flats, we are all doing the best for our children and families. The important thing to take away from this week is that the option of cloth diapers CAN truly work for any family. We just need to advocate and get the information out there to the families who can be helped the most from it. Knowledge truly is power, and families can be freed from the burden of diaper need if they just have the right information and support.


Pix said...

I'm a little confused. You said in this summary that you hand washed seven loads. But in other posts you mention that you only hand wash 4-5 flats at once. Wouldn't you have washed several times a day? Or is the 35 minutes of hand washing a day includes several 5 flat loads?


Becca said...

Hi Pix,

I only did one handwash load per day during the challenge. My daughter is a toddler and so only used about 5-6 diapers a day. I did loads with more than 5 flats a few times, but I mentioned the 4-5 number because that was the easiest amount to do. Any more than that took a bit longer. So my 35 minutes of washing was just what my daughter had used that day. Usually 5-7 flats. :)