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.
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!
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.