Categorized | Flats Challenge

3rd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge May 20-26

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The 3rd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge is back! This year we will begin on May 20 and end the evening of May 26 to make it a full 7 days.

This event aims to bring awareness and educate cloth diapering families and beyond about the benefits and feasibility of using flat cloth diapers, the most basic of all diapers, and handwashing. Why? Because there are families who struggle everyday with diaper need. There are no federal or state funded assistance programs to help families buy diapers. This can result in babies being left in diapers too long or families reusing disposable diapers; both options pose serious health risks for the baby. My goal has always been to prove that, when necessary, a small number of flat cloth diapers, covers, and a simple bucket washer or tub can be all a family needs to provide clean and sanitary diapers.

Every year other families join in to take the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, from all over the world, and from all backgrounds. All participants will only use flat cloth diapers and handwash them for the 7 day event. Diapers also have to be line dried.


Why flats?

Flat cloth diapers are the Transformers of the cloth diaper world. They can be anything. This simple square of cloth, usually birdseye cotton, can be folded in many ways to create a diaper. Folds include the pad fold, origami, kite, diaper bag fold, and the “jo” fold. Paired with a waterproof cover these diapers are just as good, if not better, than any $18 pocket diaper on the market. Knowledge and practice are key when it comes to flats. Most importantly- there are no pins required or poofy plastic covers! These days a modern Snappi or Boingo will hold the diaper without threat of pricking the baby, and economical covers such as the Econobum One Size, make a perfectly modern and affordable solution.  Even better- flats don’t even have to be “diapers” but can be any one layer piece of cloth that is square (mostly) and absorbent.  In the above photo Everett is wearing an Ikea burp cloth.  We also use Target flour sack towels.  Other popular methods include using a t-shirt folded into a diaper.

Do people really do this?

Yes, in this world on a daily basis there are families that actually DO THIS. And even more who could save a lot of money by handwashing flats even on a very part time basis as a way to stretch the disposable diapers they have for other places such as daycare.

Last year 260 families participated and 73% felt this was a viable option for families in need. In 2011 over 200 families joined and 80% said that others could “absolutely” use this method.

How can I participate?


Sign Upl.

There are rules for participants and they are as follows and they are virtually the same as those from last year with an addendum about stores and manufacturers.

Materials Allowed

The following diapering items can be used:
• Any flat cloth diaper, store bought or handmade. A flat should be only 1 layer of material for easier handwashing and faster drying.
• 1 night time diaper per night of your choice although you are asked to make flats work for you (this diaper must also be handwashed)
• Doublers (not inserts meant to be absorbent enough to stand alone) if you absolutely must.
• A diaper sprayer.
• Wet bags/diaper pails for storage.
• Handmade “washing machine” for diapers such as the camp style washer I made last year.
• Non Electronic Portable washing machines (must be powered by you and cost less than $100.
• Commercially available or handmade covers.
• Commercially available or handmade detergents.
• Snappi, Boingo, and Pins for closure.
• Pocket diapers STUFFED WITH FLATS. (note that the potential for repelling on the stay dry lining could make your challenge harder but you can see what happens)
• Homemade or store bought fleece liners.
• Iron (to use in order to expedite drying time or sterilize)

Materials Not Allowed

• Electronic washer/dryer.
• Pockets with inserts other than flats, AIO’s, Fitteds, Contours, Prefolds, AI2’s, etc.
• Flushable liners.

Rules for Everyone

• You cannot use your washer or dryer.
• If for some reason something arises and an exception is made you need to disclose in the Conclusions Survey or on your blog if you are a blogger.
• There is no limit on the number of flats or covers you can use. Should you purchase 100 flats for $100 and go a whole week without washing? No. Use your common sense on this one. As a tip the more diapers in your camp washer/ sink/ tub the harder the washing will be.

Rules for Bloggers

Bloggers I will be sending more information soon so please make sure you note that you are a blogger when you sign-up.  

For Stores and Manufacturers

Each year this event sees an increasing amount of interest from stores and manufacturers who often offer discount codes and incentives for flats and covers. If you are a company planning to offer any sort of special promotion or discount related to the challenge please email beforehand to discuss opportunities.  Also if you have any interest in working with another blog get in touch with me as well.

Resources to get you started…

You can also browse all blog posts made in during the past challenges (in backwards order, skip to the last page and work back for chronological order) by using the Flats Challenge tag.


As always the heart of this challenge is to shine a light on the fact that there are families struggling to provide clean diapers to their babies and to offer an alternative solution not often discussed when the major media outlets cover these stories. There are diaper banks that can help families get started with cloth diapers for free or little cost. If you know a family or are a family in need please visit Giving Diapers, Giving Hope- the only nationwide diaper lending program that ships to any approved family in the US. I encourage anyone touched by this challenge to donate to their organization and help them provide more diapers to more families.

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.