It’s already that time of year again! Join Dirty Diaper Laundry and other parents from all over the world for the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge taking place May 16-22.
The Flats Challenge is an event born at a time when the news began covering diaper need, in particular, it was sparked by an article that disclosed how families would scrape out or hang dry and reuse their disposable diapers. In the 6 years since this event started we are still seeing blatant omissions from news stories that either don’t mention the option of cloth diapers for families in need, or dismiss the option.
Our aim is not to say that every poor family facing the supremely difficult choice of buying diapers or food should use cloth diapers. That would be short-sighted of us to think it’s an answer for every family. The flats challenge is a way to show that for families willing and able, babies can be diapered for less than $100 or even $50 and without owning a washing machine. It is a viable option for families who are in homes without washing machines and an effective one.
Flat cloth diapers are the easiest cloth diapers to wash by hand and get effectively clean without enormous physical effort.
Flat cloth diapers are the fastest to dry, in optimum conditions a flat can air dry on the line in 20 minutes. In less ideal weather or indoors flats can take closer to 12 hours or more but will still always dry faster than prefolds, pockets, all in ones, etc.
Flat cloth diapers are the cheapest absorbent diaper available. They are disguised as “flour sack towels” in big box stores and found in the kitchen aisle, making them the most widely available cloth diaper to those unable to buy diapers online or from a baby store.
Flat cloth diapers are the transformers of the diaper world. They can be folded in dozens of ways or can simply be “pad folded” to the shape of a rectangle and laid into cloth diaper covers. They work with any standard modern diaper closure device (Snappi).
Flat cloth diapers can even be DIY-ed from XXL cotton t-shirts, an even more affordable short-term solution for any family in need of diapers right away.
As you can see, I’m a passionate advocate for flat diapers. They became my favorite diapers to use when my youngest was in diapers. They had all of the best qualities of a good cloth diaper and the fact that they were extremely cheap was only part of their appeal. Simple diapering is great whether you need to save money or not.
Now that I’ve sold you on the diapers, why should you participate in the Flats Challenge? I didn’t set out to start an event, I initially set out to challenge myself. I had the idea that flat diapers, in theory, were the perfect solution for families who would have to handwash but I’d actually never used them! I ordered some and began my own personal challenge. I then mentioned it online and others wanted to join. That’s how this all began. I needed to understand- was it possible? Would the diapers get clean? Was it fair to ask others to do something I myself wouldn’t/couldn’t do?
Myself and the thousands of others who have taken this challenge over the past 5 years have come to our own conclusions to these questions and more. We have all experienced different things when taking part in this challenge and it’s not my place to say what you will find out. This event has come under fire in the past for having unrealistic expectations of families. If families weren’t already doing this everyday maybe I’d agree with you, but so many are. They do it because they know their babies deserve clean and sanitary diapers. They found a cost-effective way to do that without having a washing machine. It may be temporary or it may be permanent but it’s happening. This challenge has given others the resources and education they need to solve their own diaper need problem.
If you’d like to participate in this event there are some rules to follow- these will be posted again once the sign-up form is open but you can expect them to closely follow the rules from 2015.
Those who want to join and post their progress can do so on their blogs and link up to our daily blog prompts each day here, and/or can post along on social media with the #flatschallenge hashtag. For fun I also like to tag photos with #bringingflatsback since this event has had a huge impact on the re-popularization of flat diapers.
To study up you can 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.
Keep an eye out for the official sign-up post. You can join our group to discuss this event in the meantime.