Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 4: Musing on Handwashing

I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove 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 announcement post.  This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world!  

I knew before starting this challenge that I would not go back to handwashing unless I had a good reason.  However, after using disposables for a year and handwashing cloth diapers for another year, I know that I'd prefer the latter if those were my only choices.  Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry talked today in her blog about being adaptable and she got it spot on -- with a little flexibility and determination you can make what seems impossible possible.

Example... when I started college in the south I got a hand-me-down manual transmission car with a broken AC and two windows that wouldn't roll down.  My brother had tried to teach me to drive stick months earlier but I couldn't get the car out of the parking lot.  The car sat at my brother's house for the first couple months of my freshman year until I decided I was ready to try again.  I got it out on the road and that was it.  When summer came the AC was still broken so I did without.  I still drive a stick, but I have no idea how I made it two summers in the south without AC in my car.

Handwashing is the same.  When people found out I handwashed our kids diapers they were amazed, but I really don't find it that amazing.  I did what I had to do, same as anyone else would.  In our daily lives we do things that would seem extraordinary to others but are ordinary to us: waiting tables, calming temper tantrums, changing diapers, cooking dinner for a family of 6, working 80 hours a week.  Its all based on perspective and when your situation changes so does your perspective.

That being said, this challenge is still not easy, nor is handwashing every day.  The plunging wears out my arms, but I know that gets better after a few weeks.  The wringing hurts my hands, but after a few weeks callouses form and that's not such a problem either.  Then there is my back.  I have a herniated disk in my back  has been flaring up recently due to moving furniture and carrying my kids around.  After the kids went to bed last night I helped my brother unload his moving truck so I ended up going to sleep last night with the diaper laundry untouched, then getting up at 6am to do laundry.  I had similar problems with the bucket and plunger over the last year, so I asked for and received a WonderWash for Christmas.  It is about 3-4 times the cost of a bucket and plunger, but well worth it for my back.

Meanwhile my wipes have been sabotaging my diapers.  I think I used too much baby shampoo in my wipes solution and it hasn't been washing out very well.  I ended up filling the bathtub all the way then swishing the 6 flats, draining, wringing, and repeating.  I finally got all the soap out.  I then took all the wipes in my wipes container and rinsed them to prevent further build up.

I did finally run out of detergent too.  Our Rockin Green is still in USPS limbo.  I tried the bumGenius detergent sample on my covers but it was too sudsy and didn't wash out very well.  I didn't have time to run to the store so I worked with what I had at home.  I mixed equal parts borax and baking soda, added 1Tbs to my wash cycle, and held my bar of soap under the faucet for 5 seconds as I filled my bucket with hot water.  It was very scientific.  I finished off by rinsing with some white vinegar.  Everything rinsed out easily and my diapers smell clean so I guess it worked!

How is the challenge going for you? Do you have any tips on handwashing you've learned that you would like to share?

1 comment:

  1. Lol I like your scientific detergent recipe. If it works, don't knock it!

    So true about 'we do what we have to do'. My hubby used to work 70-80 hours a week and people were amazed that he handled it. Well, it was the only job that would support us, so that's what we did. You make it work.