Day 1 – 7th Annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge

This post is the first of seven, all of which document my participation in the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Cloth Diaper Revival. For seven days I will be only using flat cloth diapers and covers. I will be handwashing them in an effort to demonstrate 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 original post.

Today is the first day of the Challenge and all participants were asked, “Why are you taking the Flats and Handwashing Challenge?”

I’m taking the Challenge for several reasons, listed below in no particular order.

I am participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge because…

…This is something I am doing for myself. So many of my decisions or choices as a mom are based on the excellent choices my own mother made. However, my mom did not cloth diaper and would probably never do this Challenge. This is something I am interested in and something that I am exploring by myself. In other words, this is one area that I cannot call up my mom and ask her “How do I do this? What do I do next?”

…This is good practice before our long visit to family out-of-state. We will be flying to the other side of the country around the holidays and I don’t think I want to use disposables for the entirety of our trip. However, I am also not sure how my in-laws will feel about me washing cloth diapers in their washing machine. Therefore, this is good practice and an excellent back-up for our trip should I not be permitted to wash our cloth diaper laundry in my in-laws’ washing machine.

…I am curious how well I can do this. I am a perfectionist and CLEAN diapers are a bit of an obsession. My wash routine is really important to me – understandably so, I should think. I think handwashing is a bit of a lost skill, kind of like making a delicious loaf of bread from scratch or mowing the lawn with a push mower. These aren’t necessarily the quickest, easiest, or most efficient ways to accomplish the task at hand, but that doesn’t mean basic skills should be discounted either.

…I would like to live abroad again. I loved living abroad in Europe and Asia during my 20s. I would love to go back overseas, this time with my husband and our daughter. I know that we want more children and more children mean more butts to diaper. Living life in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language can be stressful. I would like to have a diapering system that easy adapts to any situation. I would also like a diapering system that will not cost an arm and a leg to replace if don’t read the washing instructions correctly or don’t have access to my detergent of choice. Lastly, flats seems like they could easily be obtained anywhere in the world and covers aren’t too hard to make, find, or ship.

…This appeals to my love of history and answers a tiny part of the question, “How would I fare if I lived in the year ___ ?” As briefly mentioned above, I think that cloth diapering with flats and handwashing the diapers is a bit of a lost skill. Our ancestors did it and as recently as our grandparents’ or parents’ generation too!

So how did the first day of flats all day and washing by hand really go?

Today was okay. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being “I’m quitting now!” and 10 being “Can I do this every day of my life?!”), I would put my experiences at a 6.5. I think my daughter, CC, knew that I would be handwashing and so she saved up all the poop for the first few diapers today. Thankfully, her poop is still mostly EBF poop…but still. The poop was slightly demoralizing so early in the day, but it really wasn’t that bad. We did lose two covers though.  All together, we went through 9 flats (8 diaper changes with the nighttime diaper from last night getting a booster Geffen Baby hemp jersey flat), 8 fleece liners, and 4 covers. We used pretty much exactly what I expected.

Washing, on the other hand, was difficult. I spent a lot of time before the challenge began researching which flats I wanted and which covers would go well on my chunky-thighed daughter. I looked a different wash routines, summarized them in my mind, and then moved on. I should have spent more time actually figuring out what I was going to do once I dumped the dirty flats and covers in the bucket though. Because we had so many poopy diapers, I thought I was doing well swooshing and agitating for 5 minutes in hot water three times. But when I expected to be done, some of the flats were still poopy! What did I do wrong? And so began my afternoon of scrubbing with my gloves, washing just the extremely poopy diapers, changing the water levels, adding more detergent, etc. I realize now that I should have let them soak between my washes for longer than 30 seconds. I ended up using WAY too much detergent because the remainder of my afternoon was spent rinsing the darn diapers over and over again. They look great now and they are dry six hours later. But tomorrow, I am totally using much less detergent and I will be letting the diapers soak for a bit between my washes.

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Click here to read about why other people are taking this challenge!

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