The 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!