2nd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 4- Whatcha Think About Handwashing?

Airplane Fold
Airplane Fold

Today is the fourth day of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  As a reminder, this is a 7 day Challenge where participants can only use flat cloth diapers and have to ditch their washer and dryer in favor of good ol’ fashioned handwashing.  We are close to 500 participants this year and many are blogging their journey.  You can find their posts linked at the end.

As I write today’s post my hands are sore from wringing my flats dry, my arms could be described as “jelly” after vigorously agitating my diapers with a plunger in my bucket washer, and I would much rather be vegging out in front of the TV or sleeping than blogging.  This is certainly a good representation of the realities of handwashing and being reliant on this method.  Sometimes you can get it done at a perfect time (I prefer to do it while the kids are playing and occupied so that I still have some “me” time after they go to bed.) and sometimes you have to do it whenever you can fit it into your day.  That is what happened today.

We had a busy day and night.  The kids didn’t get ready for bed until after 8:30 and Everett was still awake at 9:30.  I waited until about 10:15 to start washing my diapers since the boys were in the next room upstairs.  A few hours prior I started them soaking just to loosen them up, which seems to help with the whole situation.  I agitated them further then dumped the water and individually rinsed each flat.  My flats tend to want to hold their folds so I unfolded them each by hand, rinsed, then put back into the bucket.

Next I ran the hot water and added some detergent.  I’m using my regular Hard Rock from Rockin’ Green.  Once the bucket was full I went to town and washed those suckers to death.  I was literally huffing but I could see how much was still coming out!  When I was satisfied I dumped the water and ran each flat under the water, squeezed out the water, and put back into the bucket.  Ran a cold rinse and agitated like mad again.  Saw more bubbles than I wanted…… dumped the water and ran another rinse.  Agitated and saw more bubbles.  Kidding….. right?  Ran another rinse, agitated like crazy again…….  dumped out the water, squeezed the diapers in a large mass then laid them out on the bathtub floor.  I stomped some water out because at this point I was pretty exhausted after those extra rinses.

Next was my favorite part- the wringing.  I neglected to buy latex gloves so I’ve been doing this all bare handed.  I wrung out each flat until I could barely squeeze any water out… or at least I did for the first 3 then I started being less and less enthusiastic about it.  I snapped them all as well.  Then I squeezed each of the 4 covers I washed.  The next part is critical, in my mind, to fast drying covers.  Lay your covers all out, side by side, longways on a towel.  Fold over the top and bottom on top of the covers, then roll up the towel with the covers inside (picture).  Stomp them over and over the remove the excess water.  Your towel will be soaked and your covers will be close to dry if using the plain polyester/PUL.  Cotton knits will still be wet but overall will dry faster!

I hung all of these on the drying rack and hope they are dry by the morning.  If you are just participating then you get to go to bed at this point.  If you are me or another blogger you probably have some more work to do!  I consider myself a WAHM by now.  Running DDL is a full-time job but one that gets squeezed into the nooks and crannies of life with children.  In between the breaks of the day I put work in.  Playing nicely?  I’ll answer emails.  Napping?  Let me get a post together, edit a video, plan my calendar, update my social networks.  Another nice playing break?  Time to enter some expenses into my spreadsheet, do some graphics for a post, and approve some reviews in the Cloth Diaper Finder.  Kids asleep?  Great- now I need to print shipping labels for ShopDDL.com, pack orders, and get them ready to ship in the morning!  Work is never done!

So even though I am home the majority of the day I do understand how challenging fitting the handwashing in is for most families.  Last year I did most of the challenge with my husband out of town and alone with both kids.  This year I am staying with my in-laws while we {still} wait for our home in Florida.  I have no husband to watch the kids and I don’t impose on my in-laws to watch them while I wash my diapers.

So far I am still holding strong that this is a viable solution for people willing to explore it.  I almost hate to say that “Well, everyone used to have to do this so suck it up.”  because our modern worlds are so different.  Just because something used to be normal and everyday, like butchering a hog just to get your morning bacon, it doesn’t mean we all can go back to those days (or should.)  I am so incredibly grateful for the modern convenience of my washing machine and dryer.  I’m also thankful for indoor plumbing, cable TV, and wireless internet.  However, we are all used to different things in our lives.  Humans are adaptable.  Most of us, myself included, have adapted to a pretty easy lifestyle and the hardest work we put in around our daily routine involves folding a load of laundry and mopping (unless of course we have a Scooba.)  I don’t iron anything and won’t buy something that needs to be.  I’m just that lazy.

But here is the thing- I’ve done back breaking labor in my life before and I adapted and learned to love it.  It made it possible to pay the car payment at a mere 16 years old.  I went from NO responsibility in life beyond cleaning my room to a fast paced restaurant job washing dishes, running food, busing tables, and scrubbing floors all until midnight or later (all illegal of course… in case you are wondering, this was under the table…)  It became normal.  And if I had to choose between keeping food in my stomach or buying diapers I would adopt this method and adapt.  With no “rules” I would cheat by supplementing with disposables or washing anywhere I could when possible.

I’m in my groove.  My flats are sparkling, smell great, and are working like a charm.  And by the end of this post my jelly arms have fully recovered.  Humans.- We adapt.  We survive.  We thrive.  (While typing this my 3.5 woke up twice due to a stuffy nose.  He needed tissues, cuddles, water, another tissue, more cuddles, and chapstick.   This is just what we do everyday as parents- meet the needs of our children whether it be tissues or diapers.)

Check in with the other bloggers to see how they are adapting to handwashing cloth diapers:

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