It has taken a while but I do have the results from the 4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Unsurprisingly, the data is nearly identical which shows the viability of using flat diapers in general and of handwashing. You can refer to the results of last year here: 3rd Annual Results.
There were less participants this year, though not by a huge margin. Across the board the thing I noticed when looking at the data was that again pad folding was the favorite method of folding, unbleached flats were the most popular (2nd place were flour sack towels), and that the bucket and plunger method was the most popular but it fell slightly in percentage of how many used it this year.
One change was in the average drying time, possibly just due to that pesky polar vortex that challenged those who had hoped to dry outside. The average time increased slightly. Half of participants dried their diapers inside and half dried outside. The average time it took to wash the diapers increased by 9 minutes this year.
Other constants included the number of flats and covers used per day- 8 flats a day and 3 covers per day. This is extremely good information to have and helps us know how many diapers to suggest families should buy. Some babies were using as few as 3 diapers who may have been using the potty too, and some had stomach illnesses causing them to go through a dozen in one day. This information means that for most families they should buy at least 2 dozen diapers in order to go 2.5days until washing, and 4-6 covers.
The most astounding change this year was the average cost of materials used for the week. I asked participants to calculate values even of the items used were already things in their stash and not just purchased for the challenge. Last year the average was $86 dollars but this year it was a mere $56 dollars! Both values are supremely minimal but $56 is a good, affordable amount that is even more attainable for families on a tight budget.
Once again the numbers aligned when it came down to the viability of handwashing flats- this year there was a 3% increase of people who said it was absolutely possible, up to 86.6%.
I’m so grateful to the hundreds of families who joined again this year to show how affordable cloth diapering can be and how handwashing is an option for families without washing machines. By showing the extremes with no room to “cheat” it makes reality a little easier. Part-time handwashing, part-time cloth diapering, using flats mixed with more “convenient” diapers for caregivers- these are small steps that make a big dent in finances.
Because things were so similar across the board from this year and last I didn’t go into the rest of the data and show each result, but if you love that nerdy stuff you can look at those from last year.