4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 4: What is your washing routine?

It’s Wednesday already and this week is looking more and more simple. Trepidations about handwashing may be fading as routines are perfected and issues are troubleshooted. Like any new endeavor, a little practice makes perfect. Today we’re talking about our wash routines. Depending on where you live, what your water is like, and the unique characteristics of your specific family and schedule, your laundry routine may be quite different from mine or my neighbor’s. I’m interested to read what you find works best.

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My wash routine starts with a good rinse. Any time I encounter a soiled diaper I do my best to scrape or shake out the solids as soon as possible, so there’s less to rinse later. When I’m ready to start a load to wash, I spray down each diaper with cold water. On this trip I’m trying out the qd sprayer, an easily portable diaper sprayer that can connect to most sinks and hose spigots. If I didn’t have it with me, I’d fill my bucket with some water and use the dunk’n’swish method to attempt to break up any solids that remained.

After rinsing each diaper I dump the water and refill the bucket, this time a little over half full. I add the diapers and give them a gentle stir to ensure they are all fully immersed and no air pockets are trapped. I then leave them to soak while I go cook breakfast and start the morning routine with Harper.

The soaking helps tremendously to prep the diapers for washing. When I return I remove the diapers and replace the water with fresh clean water. Normally at home I would use hot water for this step but since I’m camping (and heating it over a fire isn’t really appealing to me this week) I make do with cold. The soap and manual churning I’ll use to wash the diapers makes up for the water temperature, and I can count on the sun to kill anything that hot water normally would.

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I find it very helpful to set my covers aside at this point, still wet from their soak but not yet technically clean, and focus on the flats since they get much dirtier and require more attention. The spigot by our site was attached to a post and I just rested my covers (and anything else that I was washing besides flats) on top to drip while I worked.

I add a pinch of laundry soap to the bucket of fresh water (one of the sample packets of Molly’s Suds I received in my goody bag at the Great Cloth Diaper Change this year was perfect for me to travel with, much more convenient than carrying my full size bag with me) and use my breathing washer to agitate the water. I return the dirty flats to the bucket and commence “churning butter” while chatting with my family and enjoying my surroundings. The plunger like contraption is excellent at emulating a modern washing machine and by slightly adjusting my angle with each push I’m able to see the flats turn and scrunch as they are thoroughly washed. After I feel like the diapers are likely clean I add the covers back to the bucket and give it another go around. This way I’m ensuring the flats get as much washing as possible and everything gets sparkling clean.

When I’m satisfied with my work, I remove the diapers one by one, setting them down on that helpful post (any surface will do, as long as it’s not a pile of leaves) and empty out the bucket. For my rinse cycle I return the diapers to the empty bucket and turn on the spigot so it gushes water right on top of them. I stir it up quite a bit to make sure everything gets completely immersed in clean fresh water, then repeat the process one last time to be certain. At this point I remove the diapers one by one, wring them out as much as I can, and hang them to dry. Sometimes there is still staining but the flats smell and feel clean, and after hanging in the sun the stain dissipates.

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Once my laundry is dry I give the flats a good scrunching and twisting to help them regain their softness then fold them up and return them to the basket where I keep our diaper change supplies.

Bloggers will link-up below to discuss how their handwashing is going, the good, bad, and ugly!


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  • Stephanie Beck

    I’m really enjoying following Lara’s camping experience! Although I’ve hand washed flats in a hotel room with no problems, I’ve always wondered what that would be like when you hear people talk handwashing flats while camping. It really looks easier than I imagined it to be! Kind of makes me want to go try it for myself 🙂