Each year after the Flats and Handwashing Challenge I ask all of the participants to take a survey. The reason for this is to see how many of those who started ended up finishing, what aspects were considered the easiest, the hardest, and would participants say this is possible for others? The answers to those questions and more are below. There is an infographic and also graphs following that show more answers to the survey.
Now for answers from our participants!
So what do these numbers all mean? Well, one thing is clear- it is possible. If we are to suggest this option to other people the data tells us a few things. Expect to be washing every day for at least 30 minutes per day based on the answers of the survey. People should have, at minimum, 10 flats and 4 covers but really, double to allow for a day’s worth of drying if washing each day.What did the participants think? The Optimists-
“Even families that don’t seem super poor could benefit from this. 3 1/2 yrs ago our refrigerator broke and we went a month using coolers and winter weather as a refrigerator until a family member felt pity on us and bought us a fridge. Many families live pay check to pay check and losing a job or some other unexpected incident could put them in a very difficult financial position. Having skills to provide what your children needs (like clean diapers) makes that uncertainty less scary.” -Karen J.
“I grew up poor, was a cloth-diapered twin because my parents couldn’t afford disposable diapers. I knew, academically, that cloth diapers could work for anyone, but no one ever believed my math when I tried to persuade them that even with the cost of washing, even laundromat washing, cloth was less expensive than disposables. Now I have a true answer for them – thank you.” -Mandy B.
“I truly believe this is less of a hassle than the cost of disposables. I’ll use flats for my next child during the newborn stage, rather than buy a whole stash of newborn cloth or disposables. I wish people would stop thinking of disposables as the ‘easy’ diaper, because in my experience as a single, low-income mom, they are no easier to change, slightly easier to dispose of than to clean cloth, and way more expensive. The strain of running out of diapers is not worth the supposed ease.” -Melissa G.
“Thank you for doing this and getting me out of my comfort zone. I now feel much more prepared if an emergency should arise, and it was really a lot easier than I thought! Thanks again!” Tiffany E. Udall, Kansas
“I had fun, despite all the poop and bad weather. My 70 year old neighbor thinks this was nuts. My husband thinks I am nuts. I have worked with low income individuals who could care less about cloth diapers. I am low income. I started cloth diapering for environmental and health reasons and now i am thankful for the $ savings I want to change the world but i don’t think the world cares. I am just thankful you and the 400+ people who took part in this care.” Amye, New Hampshire
“This experience taught me that modern doesn’t always mean better. Using flats is something that everyone can benefit from. There’s a reason they’re still around today.” Acacia D. Syracuse, NYMiddle of the Road-
“Drying time was the limiting factor for the # of flats. A fan cuts drying time in half or more. I’m still conflicted as to whether I could suggest to someone working 3 jobs to hand wash diapers. Handwashing could be a temporary financial reprieve in that case, as long as it comes with a trade of less time working (for $). This challenge reinforces to me that the working poor are stuck and need a break, but I can’t tell if I’d have the energy to start in that situation.” -Montana P. Ithaca, NY
“It was all pretty great and fun. I will admit by Sunday night I looked at my washing machine longingly.” -Camerena R.San Bernadino, CA
“I work 12-hour shifts, and washing the daycare diapers between my work days, plus that day’s diapers wasn’t working. It was too many diapers that I had to wash on my day off. I spent 1/2 of the day washing the diapers. Also, My son had a stomach virus that made him poop like 5 times in 20 mintues, twice on the first two days. I couldn’t rinse/wash them well enough. I did this challenge last year, and rocked it!” -Kristina, M. Hampton, VA
“My wash routine was flawed, and it resulted in a rash on DS. More than likely, it will come down to not enough agitation, not enough soap, or sensitivity to the soap used.(or a combination). Having done this in the past, I know it works. So, even though it didn’t work for me *this time* I still fully support the idea. As with all cloth diapering, sometimes you will need to troubleshoot and tweak things. I also had some success with EC, and am looking into it further.” Jamie U. Cleveland, OHNot So Sunny-
“Each day that passes I’m pretty sure I despise handwashing a little more. I mean I guess when you have no washing machine, you have no money for disposables, or to go to the laundry mat, well, then you do what you gotta do. But dangitall. I have a washer. And I miss it. So, yes, major, major respect for my mom. I think may need to hug her, because I’m pretty sure my kids would go about with naked butts 24/7 if it had been me.” -Trish H. (Life as Their Mom)
“I really think having a newborn this year contributed to the difficulty I experienced. Most days went like this: nurse, change, rinse, nurse, nurse, nurse, change, rinse, etc. Finding time in there to wash without her waking up was very hard. And I didn’t have a good place to dry the flats/covers either. Last year I had the side of an unused crib…this year my 22 month old is in that crib so I couldn’t use the side. Rain was also a factor. It rained all week.” Sarah R. Carlock, IL[hr]
See you next year for the 4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge in May!