Day 7 – DDL’s Flats Handwashing Challenge – Reflecting on What I’ve Learned

It’s over! I did it (with he help of my loving daughter and husband)! I completed the Flats Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days, I agreed to give up the conveniences of modern cloth diapers, washing machine and dryer to use flat diapers (large squares of absorbent fabric) and covers.  The good news is that I’m not the only one crazy enough to do this!  There are over 450 participants throughout the world!

I didn’t get the opportunity to blog yesterday evening so here is my final blog post from the flats challenge series.  I’m very proud of myself and my husband (who washed a big load of diapers yesterday) for completing this challenge.  I tend to start projects and then leave them unfinished.  I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to hand wash so much during the week.  I am not afraid of hand washing and have done my fair share of it throughout my life, mostly when I didn’t have a washer or dryer in college and had a particular outfit in mind for the next day.  I was not as intimidated by the hand washing aspect as I was by only using flats.

I learned that flats are an excellent option for overnight diapering.  Currently, we use bamboo fitteds with hemp doublers, using two Hemp Babies flats accomplished the same task for comparable bulk.  I’m glad to know That I have plenty of options as I don’t like using prefolds at night because they are too bulky.

I learned that flats are rather easy to fold and extremely versatile.  I enjoyed using flats so much, that I will continue to do so in place of prefolds.

Rinsing was the hardest part of washing!

I also learned that even though we practice some elimination communication and that my daughter has pooped around the same time for six months, her bowel movement schedule will change during a handwashing challenge and return to her regular schedule the day after the challenge.

I learned not to save up two days worth of diapers and wash them in one big load! I was so tired yesterday and busy with my daughter that my husband generously did the washing.  He did a great job and it was the only time he washed.

I’m happy and pleased with myself.  I love sharing what I learned and my experiences with everyone I met on Saturday while working. I can’t say that I will do it next year, but hopefully, I will!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for supporting me throughout the last week.

-Keila

Day 6 – DDL’s Flats Handwashing Challenge – Reasons to love flats

As a reminder, I am participating in the Flats Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days, I have agreed to give up the conveniences of modern cloth diapers, washing machine and dryer to use flat diapers (large squares of absorbent fabric) and covers.  The good news is that I’m not the only one crazy enough to do this!  There are over 450 participants throughout the world!

Today was a non-stop kind of day for my family. I started the day by finding a lost Snappi which always makes me excited since I tend to lose them easily and find myself having to run to the store to chat with Elisa and pick up more Snappis. I worked at the store today with Elisa and was excited to share my newfound love of flats with the customers. It was energizing to be able to share something new about an old-fashioned style diaper.

Before signing up for the challenge, I was very intimidated by flats much in the same way I was with prefolds.  I learned to love the prefolds and in turn, learned to prefer diapers with natural fibers over those with synthetics.  I had a long journey with microfiber and pockets with suede cloth or fleece liners.  No matter what I did or didn’t do, they would repel after a few months, sometimes in as little as two, and I would have to go through the agonizing and arduous task of stripping my stash.  One time, I bought disposables to see me through, one time I outsourced the stripping and rented prefolds, the others, I just used the prefolds we had.  I may have cried a time or two when I would wash, and rinse for what seemed like an entire day, for he diapers to still repel at the end of that stripping session.  Believe me, I have done it all.  And I gave up.  It was not an easy decision to change my healthy diaper stash that could feasibly get me through three full days of not doing laundry, but it had to be done.  I just couldn’t battle the issues with synthetic materials.

As I’ve stated before, we use Bum Genius Elementalsunbleached premium edged prefolds, fitteds and both wool and PUL covers.  I love the stash we have now.  It is a basic stash, unlike my first stash which consisted of several different brands and styles of diapers.  In case you’re wondering, I donated part of my stash to the DFW Cloth Diaper Project and gave some to a friend with a newborn.  I simply lack the motivation to find buyers for diapers, so I give them away.  Keep in mind that I work at a cloth diaper store.

I purchased a package of 6 Osocozy flats and a couple Hemp Babies flats a couple of weeks before the challenge so I could get used to them.  I had the understanding that flats were going to be bulky because they had to be folded and that the folds were going to be hard to do with a squirmy toddler, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong on both counts.  Flats are by far a trimmer choice than prefolds and I didn’t find them any harder to fold than prefolds.  I love that they are so economical.  Flats are easy to come by, even if you don’t shop at a cloth diaper store.  You can repurpose old t-shirts or use flour sack towels as flats.  I love that you can also repurpose flats easily after their time has run their course in your stash or your child has potty trained.

I appreciate the simplicity and breathability of the flats.  I love that my friends on facebook who are older than me are commenting on how they used them with their children.  I feel it bridges the gap and we have something else in common.

Overall, flats are giving me warm fuzzy feelings.  I know, it sounds silly, but I seriously enjoyed the conversations using flats and participating in this challenge has opened recently.

Tomorrow concludes the challenge.  I’m excited to have finished something as I am the queen of unfinished projects.  I didn’t do laundry today, so tomorrow morning holds quite a challenge.  Luckily, my husband has agreed to help me with the wash.  I realize that it’s technically Sunday, but I don’t considerate it Sunday because I have yet to go to bed.

-Keila

Day 5 DDL’s Flats Handwashing Challenge – What I’ve Learned

As a reminder, I am participating in the Flats Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days, I have agreed to give up the conveniences of modern cloth diapers, washing machine and dryer to use flat diapers (large squares of absorbent fabric) and covers.  The good news is that I’m not the only one crazy enough to do this!  There are over 450 participants throughout the world!

Today was day 5 of the Flats Handwashing Challenge.  I’m excited that the end of the challenge is within reach.  Here are some things I’ve learned so far:

1. I love the smell of line dried diapers!
2. I greatly prefer the bleached white flour sack towels in appearance over the natural colored unbleached flats.  This is odd to me since I tend to gravitate to he creamy colored unbleached diapers such as Bum Genius Elementals and unbleached prefolds.  There is something to be admired in a crisp, perfectly white flat.
3. My little drying rack does not hold well against a breeze.  It has toppled over every day this week.  I must find a more suitable drying solution.
4. Washing diapers when the house is quiet is cathartic.  It took four rinses for those pesky bubbles to go away.  It was actually rather nice to be alone with my thoughts while washing diapers.  This happens so rarely as Norah usually doesn’t sleep well without me by her side and I have three active dogs to contend with when the baby is asleep.
5. Too much detergent is too much of a good thing.  I’ve learned to scale back when handwashing.
6.  Hand washing anything every day will make me a stronger woman…literally. My arms aren’t so sore today as they were earlier in the week.
7. I am a cloth diaper advocate.  I would have never defined myself in such terms before the challenge, but I realized that  I love sharing what I know and the challenge has provided me with more opportunities to share.
8. Rolling PUL covers in a towel and stepping on it to release the moisture in the diaper works much better than hand wringing them. I didn’t know the covers were going to be so hard to dry!
9. Folding and fastening flats is not as intimidating as I had imagined.
10. Flats are extremely versatile and budget friendly.

I’m excited to see what the next couple of days bring.  My husband will be watching our daughter for a few hours tomorrow so I can work at the store so I’ve prepared his stash for the day (pictured above).  I’ve included a flannel receiving blanket, flour sack towel, Osocozy flat, Hemp Babies flat, one Snappi, Rumparooz Eco Owl Cover (purple), and Thirsties Duo size 2 Owl cover (white).

Day 4 – DDL’s Flats Handwashing Challenge – What Do I Really Think About Hand Washing Diapers…EVERY DAY!

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Today was the fourth day of the Flats Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days, I have agreed to give up the conveniences of modern cloth diapers, washing machine and dryer to use flat diapers (large squares of absorbent fabric) and covers.  The good news is that I’m not the only one crazy enough to do this!  There are over 450 participants throughout the world!

In order to grasp exactly how I feel about hand washing diapers every day, I’m going to give you an example of my washing routine.

I store soiled diapers in a Planetwise wet/dry bag (which I’ve been washing only as it becomes stinky) throughout the day.  Ideally, I would be able to wash two loads of diapers a day, once in the morning and once at night, however, I have a child who does not like to be left alone and three large dogs who aren’t great babysitters.  I mean, they’re not going to prevent her from swimming in their water bowl, so she stays close to me during her waking hours.  This same child, also doesn’t nap well most of the time, so I end up laying down with her for an hour or so every day.  Some days, like today, I get lucky and am able to do laundry during her nap. Other days, I’m stuck waiting for my husband to get home so he can keep the baby and I can spend quality time with the camp style bucket and a wet bag full of stinky diapers…lucky me!

Overall, I’m very happy with my decision to use the camp style washer even if I decided to ditch the lid since it was scraping the paint off the plunger and into the diapers.

I place all soiled diapers in the bucket for the prewash.  Luckily enough, Norah doesn’t regularly poop in diapers so they aren’t very soiled.  When she does poop in a diaper, we rinse it well with the diaper sprayer.  I can’t say that I would have agreed to the challenge if I wasn’t allowed to use he diaper sprayer.  The prewash consists of cold water in the bucket and several minutes of agitation.  I usually skip the hand wringing because I’m mostly dealing with wet diapers, not poop ones.

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The next step is to do a hot wash with the hottest water possible and one tsp of Hard Rock  . I then agitate the diapers for five minutes (will usually put a song on so I can time myself and drift off into deep thought) and let the diapers soak for up to an hour depending on how soon I remember I left diapers soaking. I learned on day one, that too much detergent will mean I will be rinsing, rinsing, rinsing and rinsing.  One teaspoon appears to work very well, yesterday, I used two since the load was so big and that was manageable as well.

After the soak, I agitate the diapers again for a few minutes, then drain the water.  I then fill the bucket with cold water, agitate, assess the amount of bubbles left in the bucket and either rinse again or move on.  Once I don’t see bubbles in the water, I drain the water, rinse each diaper under the faucet individually, wring out and set out to dry.

I love, love, love drying diapers outside! They simply smell fantastic and I constantly find my face buried in diapers just to catch another whiff of line-dried cotton or hemp!

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The truth about handwashing is simple, yes it is manageable.  No I would not want to do this if I worked full time.  Having my husband home this week (he normally travels) has been extremely helpful, and I don’t know that I would be able to complete the challenge without his help.  What would I do if I had to do this regularly?  I would suck it up and do it.  As I mentioned before, disposable diapers are not a viable option for my family for many reasons.

My hands are sore and so is my back from bending over to wash.  I have high hopes that both will grow accustomed before the end of the challenge.  I may be a bit delusional.

We purchased the small drying rack specifically for the challenge, it has been the best purchase and now I never want to turn on my dryer again! Well, for the summer months.  I’ve wanted a line for drying for a long time, and I think my husband finally sees how necessary I think it is.  My house is cooler because the dryer isn’t running for an hour every day.

I miss my washer, not all day, but I question myself when I’m on that second or third rinse.  The week will be over soon enough, and I will feel great about myself for having completed the challenge.

-Keila

Day 3 DDL’s Flats Handwashing Challenge – How do I do it (use flats)?

Today was the third day of the Flats Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days, I have agreed to give up the conveniences of modern cloth diapers, washing machine and dryer to use flat diapers (large squares of absorbent fabric) and covers.  The good news is that I’m not the only one crazy enough to do this!  There are over 450 participants throughout the world!

One of the things I love about flats is how versatile they can be because of all the available ways to fold them to maximize absorbency and tailor the fit of the diaper to each particular child.  I’ll admit that folding flats is something that has long intimidated me.  Prefolds intimidated me for a long time as well, and now I feel like I’m a pro with the prefolds.  I still have some fine-tuning to do with the flats, but to my credit, I’ve only been using them for about three weeks occasionally and full time since Monday.

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The pad fold is by far the easiest way to fold a flat.  I will say, that this is perhaps the most Daddy-friendly fold in my household because it is easy to leave a stack of pad-folded diapers and covers for dad to use.  We will be testing this theory on Saturday when I work at Babies Bottoms and More for a few hours.  I generally don’t use he pad fold because I love snappis!  I have learned that I prefer to leave the Osocozy flats for the pad folding as they aren’t as roomy as the flour sack towels, Hemp Babies flats or receiving blanket. I generally don’t prefer the pad fold for a child with runny poop because I did have bad experiences with pad folded prefolds and a newborn Norah.  However, now that she is older and regularly poops on the potty, the pad fold is a viable option for us at this time.

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My current favorite fold is the Diaper Bag Fold.  I feel that this fold is the most comfortable fold for Norah as it create a few extra layers of fabric for the snappi to hook on to.  I also think it’s he easiest for me to get on her in a hurry aside from the pad fold.  I like the way this fold looks and I’m not left with extra tabs that I don’t necessarily understand how to tuck under the snappi.  This fold is also easy enough for my husband to use when he’s feeling up to it.  I’d say we use this fold 95% of the time.

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We also use a variation of the origami fold called the Happy Anteater. I like this fold because it creates a nice looking, well-fitting diaper on Norah’s small bottom.  I don’t like the amount of time I feel I put into folding it.  That being said, I had to iron dry some diapers this evening and will most likely iron more of the Osocozy flats into the Happy Anteater fold.  I like that this fold allows the diaper and cover to fit well under more form fitting pants.  I will most likely use this fold when it is colder out and Norah has to wear long pants.

ImageFor overnight, we use a Diaper Bag-folded flannel receiving blanket with a pad-folded Hemp Babies flat, stay dry liner and Tiny Tush Woolie.  This solution appears to work well and has been very absorbent.  Norah sleeps through the night, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that flats are a feasible option for overnight diapering.

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So how did Day 3 go?  Well, it was alright.  I was lazy and didn’t wash diapers last night, so I had a rather large load to wash today.  My arms are very tired.  On a positive note, I’m reasonably certain I will have more attractive arm muscles at the end of he 7 day challenge!

-Keila

Aside

Day 2 Annual Flats Handwashing Challenge – Supplies I use

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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’m pretty happy to announce that Day 2 has been pretty smooth.  I have done two loads of diapers and have learned quite a bit.  Last night, I did my first load and used 2 tbsp of Hard Rock in my scent of he moment Rage Against the Raspberry.  The amount of detergent I used was way too much.  I did wash 5 flats, two stray Bum Genius Elementals, one night time fitted (which I have decided not to use for the remainder of the challenge), a fleece liner, one Flip cover, and one small wet bag.  I thought about washing the Elementals in the washer since they were misplaced when I did my last load on Sunday, however, I felt that would be cheating and didn’t really want to run the washer for two diapers.  I had to rinse about ten times last night and I’ll admit, it was pretty frustrating to get rinse out the detergent.  I used 1 tsp of Hard Rock on the five diapers I washed today.

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So now you that I’m participating in the flats challenge and that I’ve survived two days, you’re probably wondering about my supplies.

Camp style washer (bucket with a hole in he lid and a plunger)
6 Osocozy Birdseye flats
8 RE flour sack towels
3 Hemp Babies flats
1 receiving blanket
12 Grovia wipes
Sheepish Grins Washy Wafers solution
1 Flips cover
1 Rumparooz cover
1 Thirsties Duo wrap
1 Blueberry Cover
1 Tiny Tush Woolie
2 fleece liners for overnight use
1 large Planetwise wet/dry bag
1 small Planetwise wet/dry bag
1 RE folding dryer rack

I contemplated using disposable wipes for the challenge, but I normally only use the Grovia wipes and it seems easier to stick to my normal routine as much as possible.

So far, so good.  I feel satisfied with my decision to participate in the challenge.  Washing the first load was the hardest since I used too much detergent. The diapers I washed last night were dry by the time we got up this morning.  Drying diapers outside took about 60 minutes or so, the heat helps.  I’ll be drying them outside for the most par because they smell fantastic afterwards!

Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

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2012 Annual Flats Handwashing Challenge AKA You’re Doing What? WHY?

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Hello All! Remember me? I’m Keila guest blogging for Babies Bottoms and More about my experiences with completing Dirty Diaper Laundry’s 2nd Annual Flats Handwashing Challenge. 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!

Last year, I was intrigued by the Flats Challenge, but didn’t feel confident enough as a cloth diapering momma to a young infant to complete the challenge. I wasn’t even entirely sure of what a flat diaper was. Boy have things changed in a year! Last year, I used prefolds and covers and pocket diapers. These days, my stash consists of largely prefolds, flats and Bum Genius Elementals. The flats are a recent addition to the stash in order for me to complete the challenge this week. I’ve learned that I do not have the willpower to fight repelling issues with synthetic fibers so we stick to natural fibers including hemp, cotton and bamboo.

So why did I volunteer to handwash diapers for seven days? First, I remembered my desire from last year and had considered participating this year after the first challenge was completed. Secondly, the week that Kim Rosas announced the challenge, was the same week that the DFW Metroplex was hit by tornadoes. Seeing the affected areas on the news coverage made me wonder what I would do if we were affected by natural disaster. I do not like disposable diapers. I do not consider the use of disposables as a valid option for our family. I want to know that I can diaper my daughter without sacrificing my strong convictions regarding diapering.

Today, has been easy. Of course, I haven’t washed my first batch of diapers yet…

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Boiling a Hemp Babies flat diaper late on Sunday night so it can be used during the challenge. 

ImageFirst diaper of the challenge.  Norah is sporting a flour sack towel using a diaper bag fold held by a snappi.