Get Prepared for the 3rd Flats and Handwashing Challenge plus Blogging Prompts

flatschallenge2013buttonThe 3rd Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge begins this Monday, May 20 and will go until the evening of May 26.  As a quick reminder, this event will involve hundreds of families from all over the world; they have signed on to only use flat cloth diapers and handwash them for 7 days.  That’s why we say “No Washer.  No Dryer.  No Problem.”  On the surface this event may seem like fun and games (well, as much fun as handwashing dirty diapers can be!) but the goal is to prove that cloth diapers are possible in almost any situation.  1 in 3 families struggle to afford diapers for their babies but flats are the cheapest diapering option available and they are easily handwashed and air dried, unlike other styles of cloth diapers.

If you have decided you would like to participate but think you won’t have time to get prepared, have no fear!  I’v got some tips to get you started.  You can sign-up and read the rules on the announcement post: Rules and Sign-up.

Even though you won’t have time to take advantage of the sales offered by our retail partners you can still find flats at your local big box store.  You heard me!

Supplies you might need are listed below that you can still get this weekend.


Target sells “Flour Sack Towels” in their kitchen department.  These sell in packs of 4 for $4.00.  They are thinner than your traditional birdseye flats but they will work, though they won’t wash up perfectly square and are a bit smaller than the standard flat size.  You may need to double them up depending on how heavily your baby wets.

Wal-Mart has an equivalent for the same flour sack towel, same rules apply.

SAM’S Club also sells them in larger packs of 12 (Baker’s and Chefs brand) and these are rumored to be the best quality.  They will cost an extra .10  per flat and are 12.94 for the dozen.


Ikea sells “burp cloths” that are by far my favorite flats.  They are a bit more a piece, about 1.50 each and sold in packs of 2, but if you want to keep using flats after the challenge these are perfect and cute.


For an even cheaper alternative you can hit up your local thrift stores or raid your husband’s closet for XXL T-shirts and cut them along the seams to make 2 flats.  They shirts have to be 100% cotton.  I have a full tutorial for this- Cheap and Easy DIY T-Shirt Diapers.   If you get the shirts on sale for .50 each then you have two diapers for less than a dollar.  WHAT?!  Mind blown, right?

To get a camp style washer ready you will have to get a few supplies unless you have them already- but it isn’t hard.  Run to the dollar store for a plunger and find a 5 gallon bucket at a hardware store for about $5.00.  Instructions for making one: Make a Camp Style Washer for Cloth Diapers

And a few tips I shared last year about handwashing should help as well:

  • If using a plunger/bucket washer wear rubber gloves to prevent sore hands and callouses.  Also use gloves for wringing diapers as this can also cause soreness and chaffing.
  • Roll your covers in a dry bath towel and apply pressure (by kneeling) to take out as much water as possible to expedite air drying.
  • Line dry your flats in a well ventilated area if at all possible.  Outdoors if it isn’t humid or indoors under exhaust or ceiling fans.
  • Iron your flats if you need them to dry faster.  This can also kill leftover bacteria that may not have washed out.  Think of it as sterilizing while making them pretty too.
  • Use a light hand with the detergent- too much and the extra rinses will be time consuming.  Remember the volume of you washer/sink is likely a lot less than your washing machine.
  • Rinse with warm water.  According to a laundry expert warm rinses=easier to wring out more (or spin out more in machine)
  • Let the water work for you- if you can leave soiled flats in a SAFE place to soak then do so to remove waste.
  • Practice EC!  Nothing like handwashing diapers to make you more observant of your little one’s cues!  Let your baby go coverless and you might just notice a pattern to their pees.  Start putting them on a potty, cue them, read to them, and just see what happens.  One less pee/poop in a diaper= one less diaper to wash.
  • Don’t use wet bags.  Store dirty diapers in your bucket or sink because handwashing the bags will take valuable space.
  • Wash daily or at every change.  Washing larger loads means harder work, longer work, and the potential for the diapers to get less clean.
  • Beat the crap out of your dry flats to make them soft again.  Air drying=stiff.  Wring, snap, and roll your flats and this will remove the crunchy feeling.
  • Got stink?  Probably not enough detergent or not washing long enough.  Set a kitchen timer because a few minutes handwashing can feel like a lot longer.

Now you are ready!

If you plan to blog along there will be a prompt for each day of the Challenge to write on.  They are as follows:

Monday:  Why did you decide to take the Flats and Handwashing Challenge?

Tuesday:  How did you Prepare?  List your supplies, where you bought them, how you made them, how much you paid, etc.

Wednesday: Open Topic Day

Thursday: Thoughts on Handwashing- How am I doing?

Friday- What is working for me?  What isn’t?

Saturday- Open Topic Day

Sunday- What did I learn/ How did it go?  Do I think others could do this and how could they make it work?

You will have the chance to add a link directly to your post (not your main blog address) each day.

Add your main blog link to the linky if you plan to participate in the link-up each day!  

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  • Christine

    I guess I don’t really understand this challenge. If people don’t have money to buy disposables, what makes you think they have money to buy expensive diaper covers and all these supplies? What mom on WIC do you know who has a Sam’s Club membership? I get the whole environmental impact business, but this challenge seems kind of ignorant and agenda setting to me. Oh and don’t forget to pay yourself on the back for not using your washer and dryer for ONE week while there are people out there with real problems, like how they’re going to feed their family for the next month. Some of these bloggers are calling this a “fun challenge.” I’m sure it’s not so fun to those who must do it on a daily basis because they have to.

    • JOrtman

      wow Christine are we bitter much? If you have been reading along most of the supplies used are ALSO available at walmart and target and last I checked you didn’t need a membership for that. Diaper covers very in range and one doesn’t have to buy expensive cover for them to be affective. One of my favorite covers retails for 8.00 and one can always use the old school rubber pants if needed which by the way are also available from walmart. The challenge is not directed towards environmental issues although those are very real.

      There were news reports about 3 years ago and some as recently as as a couple of weeks ago touching on the unsanitary and unhealthy reuse of disposable diapers (scraping out the poo and putting it back on baby or drying them to reuse). Anyways the point of this challenge is to show that there are other options for people REGARDLESS of income level although lower income families are impacted harder.

      while it’s true that there is an initial investment that investment can be spread out NO ONE is saying you must buy all of this to get started , one could very well buy 1 pack of 3-4 floursack towels for 5.00 or less or use old receiving blankets which many of us who have babies already have on hand. By doing this it could be the difference to babies being exposed unnecessarily I might add to the health hazards of reusing disposable diapers.

      I can’t speak for others but for MYSELF the fun that you speak of is MORE of a realization that this isn’t as hard as we initially went into the challenge thinking it was going to be. I personally was not looking forward to the handwashing aspect of this (I already use cloth due to financial constraints) and So far I have for lack of a better word have ENJOYED this journey. Oh and to answer your question about what WIC mother has a Sam’s membership, I am a “WIC mom” and while I don’t have a Sam’s membership as you stated at my local Sam’s club and I would imagine others around the country will allow you to make purchases you just have to pay 10% more so in this case for a 12 pack of floursack towels which is sold locally for 12.48 the cost for a non member would be 13.73.

      Many of the mom’s involved in this challenge DO or HAVE done this on a daily bases BECAUSE THEY HAD TO and the true agenda as you say here is to show families they can have clean diapers which I believe they want for their kids they just didn’t/don’t know their options that is the SOLE purpose of this challenge is to show them. I know for myself when I struggled to purchase disposable for my older children I NEVER thought about cloth because I didn’t see them around to be honest I didn’t even know they still made them we are just trying to let others know they are still available should they decide they want something better for their little over making them sit in their Defecations because they can’t afford the cost of disposable.
      Is cloth diapering the easiest thing out there? For many the answer is no but we/I make the sacrifice so that at the end of the day I can rest easy knowing I am doing the best I can for my kids and knowing that they are not being exposed to unnecessary hazards. I am by no means looking down on those who use cloth as like I stated before I have and still do from time to time what I take issue with is those who make excuses or blame others because they feel ENTITLED to the LUXURY of disposables when they can’t afford that LUXURY and their children suffer as a result.