4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 1: Why Are You Taking The Challenge?

The Flats and Handwashing Challenge has begun.  This event shows that anyone can cloth diaper in any situation.  All participants will handwashing their flats and air dry.  All rules can be found here.  During the Flats and Handwashing Challenge last year my son potty trained!  This year, we aren’t able to participate as we have the previous 3 years, and while it is bittersweet, I am so happy to have Lara write her experiences up for the blog this year!  Lara took the challenge last year with Harper and wrote her experience for her own blog.  This year she will share on DDL.  Remember to check the bottom of the post for the posts from other bloggers.  Best of luck this year and thank you all for joining!  -Kim Rosas, owner of Dirty Diaper Laundry.


On our first day of the 4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge our topic of discussion is “Why are you taking the challenge?” Last year I took the challenge limiting myself to handwashing in the sink as a way to prove to myself I would be able to cloth diaper my baby even while on vacations that limit my options like on a cruise or staying in a motel. I wanted to know that even without any tools beyond my simple rubber gloves, some running water, and a small amount of detergent, I could effectively use cloth diapers without de-railing my daily routine. It was quite an adventure, finding pockets of time to tackle the wash and ways to keep my very young and attached baby happy while my hands were full. Babywearing was definitely a life saver, as was including her in the fluffing and folding routine (our flats would get stiff after line drying and require a bit of shaking, scrunching, and fluffing to get them back to their supple softness). She wasn’t much help at folding, obviously, but playing peekaboo and gentle tug of war encouraged her to consider the clean flats as part of a game and not something that was taking away her mother’s attention.


This year I decided to take my interpretation of the challenge on the road, as I introduce my husband and daughter to their very first camping trip. We’ll be staying at what is considered a “wilderness” campsite, but there will be running water available down the path a bit, and they do have a nearby building with proper bathrooms and showers for us, too. So while it won’t be complete “desert island” style camping, and I will definitely be indulging in some grilled veggie dogs and some s’mores, we will lack many of the creature comforts I tend to take for granted during the week.


There is wifi available in the quaint town nearby, so I’ll be able to continue posting updates and pictures daily. I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with you, and while I know handwashing will be a chore and most people don’t want to “work” on their vacations, I think camping involves quite a lot of chores that can be considered fun and part of the experience. I’ll almost feel like a pioneer, tackling the laundry by hand while the birds sing and the squirrels look on curiously.

I’m taking the challenge because I love the impact I’m making by not using disposable diapers. I started using cloth because I knew it could save me money and I wanted natural fibers against my baby’s skin, but as time went on I grew more and more passionate about how easy cloth diapers are and how little it takes to wash them and use them. So many families use disposables and they all have their reasons, but I believe if more people knew just how possible and convenient cloth diapering really can be, more people would make the switch.


Often in forums I see parents who usually cloth diaper asking about using disposables while on trips. I understand and respect their reasoning but I like the idea of continuing to use cloth whenever I can. Our family camping trip provides the ideal setting for this challenge. It would be easy to say “I’m on vacation, I’m not doing laundry” and deal with the stink and the waste and the cost of disposables for the sake of convenience. But why? How much time will it really take out of my day, and who’s to say that can’t be peaceful time to enjoy my beautiful outdoor surroundings while I churn away at my makeshift camp washer.

For me this year the challenge is not only about proving that anyone can cloth diaper no matter their budget or living situation, it’s also about demonstrating that it is convenient enough that it is a reasonable undertaking for even the busiest family. Granted, I won’t be working this week (thank goodness for accumulated vacation days) but I will be taking time to write something each day for you, as well getting the most out of our camping experience. We’ll be swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, hiking, cooking, and exploring the majority of every day. I’m not sure if Harper will nap in a tent, so if she doesn’t we’ll just babywear and go for a long walk. I wholeheartedly believe that we can have a full and rich camping experience, and I can still find time to wash a small load of cloth flats and covers each day. I’m excited to document this week with you, and also to read all your stories if you’re blogging along with us.

For bloggers, you may add your links below. We invite everyone to take this journey with those documenting. The experience will vary person to person, and we will learn all so much from each other!

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  • Autumn

    Hi, well, I’m not actually doing the challenge this year, but I wanted to say how much I appreciate the work you and others are doing to promote a cheaper diapering option for those who are struggling financially. I have an 18 month old and a 1 month old, both diapered exclusively in flats because without those savings we wouldn’t be able to afford both diapers and food. It’s great that more people are learning about flats! Keep spreading the word!

    • kimrosas

      Thank you! Yes, we want everyone to know about how great and affordable flats are!
      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

  • leah jones

    My baby has rejected my economical flat and prefold diapers. The pediatrician calls him a “sensitive” baby, and among other things, this means that he screams when he feels the tiniest bit wet. I’ve ordered some pocket diapers because they are supposed to have that stay-dry layer, but I’m looking for suggestions on how to use the cheap diapers I already have. Do diaper liners really work with flats and prefolds? If so, what brand is most likely to stay in place?

    • Lara

      Diaper liners do work! I prefer some of the brands that offer a system to hold them in place (Tushmate has a stay dry liner that snaps in place, Tidy Tots has disposable liners that secure when you snap the inserts in) but you can use liners with your existing diapers. Try cutting up a fleece blanket into rectangles about the size of the channel you’d place a padfolded flat into. You can sew a zig zag stitch around the edges, or just let them fluff a bit. Give the liners a hot wash before using them, and you should be good to go.

  • Lindsey

    I’ve been talking to friends and it surprised me how many people think cloth diapering is really expensive. I really want to show them that it doesn’t have to be.

  • Kelley_WithEagerHands

    After I did the FHWC (I think it was the second year) I saw the camping potential as well and was happy to take our camp washer and flats with us for camping! We happily used cloth all week without having to store dirty cloth diapers, and I even used the camp washer to wash our dirty laundry, like beach clothes and towels so that we wouldn’t have to pack so much, or take soiled laundry home…and it made the trip even more fun because we felt like we were “living off the land” and not just camping. 🙂