Each time I type out “5th Annual” for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge I am in awe that this event has continued to go on after all these years and inspire others. I am truly humbled by the support from the cloth diaper community and I can’t wait for May 11 to start again!
The Flats and Handwashing Challenge is an event inspired by families experience dire economic circumstances who have had to reuse disposable diapers. This is a dangerous and unhealthy practice but families without the funds or resources have so few choices on how to diaper their babies. Federal and State programs offer no free diapers or coupons for diapers and food banks or crisis centers can only help with some of the needs when the stock is there. Families who are un the suburbs or rural parts of the country often have no access to pantries or diaper banks. In order for cloth diapers to work for families in these circumstances they needed to be a. cheaper or free and b. wash and dry easily. The solution was flats! Flat diapers was a single layer of fabric making them the perfect diaper for families who may need to handwash or who are using coin operated facilities. They’re also easy to find locally and can be made from t-shirts. Since the biggest hurdle for some families would be laundry access, a camp-style bucket washer was made for washing at home.
I challenged myself and others to see if using flats and handwashing them was a viable solution and in 2011 we had our first 7 day challenge. Since that event we have done it annually and have inspired others to try flats and/or handwashing as a way to diaper inexpensively. Even if it is just a temporary solution or part-time this method is effective and works. By taking the challenge with us for 7 days you can experience handwashing and using only flat diapers. You will find out what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll see how hard it can but that it can work. You will also learn that if your power goes out that you can still use your diapers but handwashing them so if that zombie apocalypse comes you will be prepared.
There are rules for participating and they are as follows:
The following diapering items can be used:
• Any flat cloth diaper, store bought or handmade. A flat should be only 1 layer of material for easier handwashing and faster drying.
• 1 night time diaper per night of your choice although you are asked to make flats work for you (this diaper must also be handwashed)
• Doublers (not inserts meant to be absorbent enough to stand alone) if you absolutely must.
• A diaper sprayer.
• Wet bags/diaper pails for storage.
• Handmade “washing machine” for diapers such as the camp style washer
• Non Electronic Portable washing machines (must be powered by you and cost less than $100.
• Commercially available or handmade covers.
• Commercially available or handmade detergents.
• Snappi or other devices for closure.
• Pocket diapers STUFFED WITH FLATS. (note that the potential for repelling on the stay dry lining could make your challenge harder but you can see what happens)
• Homemade or store bought fleece liners.
• Iron (to use in order to expedite drying time or sterilize)
Materials Not Allowed
Rules for Everyone
• You cannot use your washer or dryer.
• If for some reason something arises and an exception is made you need to disclose in the Conclusions Survey or on your blog if you are a blogger.
• There is no limit on the number of flats or covers you can use. Should you purchase 100 flats for $100 and go a whole week without washing? No. Use your common sense on this one. As a tip the more diapers in your camp washer/ sink/ tub the harder the washing will be.
Rules for Bloggers
Bloggers are encouraged to participate and chronicle their week. I will have link-ups for each day of the challenge with blogging prompts. If you sign up as a blogger you will be sent more information on the prompts and rules to add your links.
For Stores and Manufacturers
Each year this event sees an increasing amount of interest from stores and manufacturers who often offer discount codes and incentives for flats and covers. If you are a company planning to offer any sort of special promotion or discount related to the challenge, or your company is blogging along, please email beforehand to discuss opportunities. firstname.lastname@example.org
AND GET YOUR FLAIR!
Resources to get you started…
- Why You Should Love Flats Video and Infographic
- How to Make a Camp Style Bucket Washer video
- How to Pad Fold Video
- How to Kite Fold Video
- How to Origami Fold Video
- How to Diaperbag Fold Video
- How to “Jo” Fold Video
- How to Mini Kite Fold Video
- How to boil and prep flats
- How to Wash in a Camp Style Washer
You can also 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.
As always the heart of this challenge is to shine a light on the fact that there are families struggling to provide clean diapers for their babies and to offer an alternative solution not often discussed when the major media outlets cover these stories. There are diaper banks that can help families get started with cloth diapers for free or little cost. If you know a family or are a family in need please visit Giving Diapers, Giving Hope– the longest running nationwide diaper lending program that ships to any approved family in the US. I encourage anyone touched by this challenge to donate to their organization and help them provide more diapers to more families.
Join our Facebook Group for live updates and to learn from other participants while we all get prepared for another Flats Challenge. On Instagram and Twitter we will once again be using the #FlatsChallenge hashtag, also #bringingflatsback for funsies.