Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 7: Hindsight 20-20

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!  

Johnny's ready for bed in a wool
cover, 30x30 flat, and padfolded
t shirt
In my year of handwashing our chosen diaper system of gDiapers and flapped inserts I didn't get very adventurous.  I tried a few other diapers -- pocket diapers with microfiber inserts, pocket diapers with all natural inserts, the Freetime -- but never prefolds or flats.  Everything I tried washed up okay, but I constantly fought ammonia stink and build up whenever I changed detergents or the universe wanted a few laughs.

So would I have opted for flats from the start if I knew what I know now about the benefits and savings of flats?

Short answer: Yes

Flats dry incredibly quickly, even compared to my usual inserts.  I hung out some flats before church this morning and they were dry, thanks to sun and wind, by the time I got back.  During the first two days of the challenge I hung the flats in our living room under a fan overnight (9pm till 7am) and they were dry in the morning.

There are some changes I would make though.   With two kids in cloth it was difficult enough to handwash a days' worth of inserts in one load -- I could only wash 12 inserts at once and they usually went through 15-18.  During the challenge I found I could only wash 6-7 flats per load because of their size (30"x30"). I would probably make some smaller flats specifically for padfolding inside t-shirt flats or covers so I could fit more in a load. My current inserts are 4 layers of fabric, so a 18"x18" flat would be just fine.  They'd probably work pretty well for a newborn too.

Izzy participated in the challenge but opted against
flats for her baby.  Thankfully baby didn't have any
dirty diapers, so Izzy didn't have any washing to do
I would use wool covers.  Wool is harder to come by and it is more expensive, but I believe it is worth every penny when handwashing.  I think it is simply amazing that you can use a wool cover for a week without washing it (unless it gets soiled).  Plus they are a cinch to wash: squeeze, soak, squeeze, hang dry.

I don't think I would use wool for a baby under 6 mos.  I can just see yellow peanut butter poo all over my wool covers 2-3x per day.  Wool usually takes a good 12 hours or more to dry for us.  A set of gDiapers or some wipeable PUL covers would be more cost effective.

I wouldn't change my T-shirt flats.  They were perfect for regular changes and uncomplicated to use.  And they were free.

As for handwashing?

Totally doable.

We handwashed our diapers for a year while balancing my 14-16 hours of school a day, my part time job and my husband's part time job.  We kept going despite my herniated disk and his carpal tunnel.  Do I miss my WonderWash?  Yes.  Its a back saver.  However, if I had to handwash our diapers again with just a bucket and plunger I would happily.

In summary, I have some changes to make to my Handwashing Guide.  And I think I'll overhaul that whole page.  Ho hum.

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