Why You Should Use and Love Flats {Video+Infographic}


To say I love flat cloth diapers is an understatement.  There are no diapers that compare when it comes to versatility, affordability, and wash/dry friendliness.  So they may take longer to learn than a wrap and go style of modern diaper… so what?  Practice on your teddy bears and bribe your baby with a toy while you get the hang of it, or just use them as inserts or soakers rectangle style!  I told you they were versatile!  I filmed a video that shares why I love flats, and why you should too.  Disclosure- I was facing the sun but it was the only time I had to film so waiting for an overcast day wasn’t an option.  Sorry for my squinty face and the brightness!

Why flat cloth diapers are awesome- cheap, easy, carefree!

Why should you love flats?

Because they’re…


You can find flats for free if you raid your old t-shirt collection or for as low as $1-$3 each, even with name brands.  Flats can be just about anything, but they’re easily found at online diaper shops.

One layer.

washerThe thing that makes flats intimidating and a bit harder to use than modern diapers is also the thing that makes them amazing!  Being one layer of fabric means they wash up easier and dry faster than any other cloth diaper!  Flats are less prone to build-up of bacteria because they are just one layer and there are no other layers for things to hide in when being washed in a machine or by hand.  Drying is easy too!  On the line on a sunny, breezy day flats can dry in less than one hour!  Inside or outside in less than ideal conditions it can take half a day or even a full day but that is still faster than bulkier cloth dipers with lots of layers sandwiched together.  Using your dryer with a few wool dryer balls to help bounce them around, flats can be done is less than 30 minutes.  If you want to save the electricity and line dry your flats, soften them up by tossing in the dryer for a few minutes.  No dryer access?  Scrunch your stiff flats in your hands and twist them and they’ll be just as soft!


There is no other diaper that can do as many things as well as a flat can.  Fold it onto the baby using any of the dozens of folds available!  There are folds that can made this large square of fabric any size, even small enough for a newborn (Mini-Kite Fold) or folds that suit boys, folds for girls, and every stage.  Folds like the Jo Fold and Diaper Bag Fold are great because they hold their shape!  Fold ahead of time and just put on the baby like a contour, then secure with a modern Snappi or Boingos.  Other folds need to be done on the spot.  Also use flats that are folded into rectangles (pad fold tutorial) and lay them into a cover, or use as inserts in your pockets.  See?  They’re totally the transformers of the diaper world.

Natural Fibers.

cottonAs much as I appreciate the advances in textiles cloth diapers have made, there is nothing like the natural fibers flats are made from.  Most often, they’re made from birdseye cotton but can come in other fabrics like bamboo or hemp in a variety of blends or in textures like muslin, gauze, or terry.  In the UK their flat “nappies” are cotton terry squares and that’s all the royal families uses.  Think you’re too good for flats?  The Prince even wears them!  With natural fibers you have a lesser chance of stink and detergent build-up.  Microfiber, the most common pocket insert material also used in some All-in-Ones and other diapers has strands with hollow cores (more on this and why they stink more than other diapers here).  Bacteria and ammonia have nowhere to hide in natural fibers and especially with only one layer!  They also rinse easier meaning if you accidentally add too much detergent or need to add extra due to hard water you won’t need to rinse an additional 5 times.  Flats are forgiving!  There’s a reason our grandparents didn’t suffer from the same washing woes as we do.  Modern diapers’ convenience factor increases the washing difficulty with the synthetic stay dry layers, thicker soakers and inserts, and other parts.  Flats can take it all in stride.

Easy to Handwash.

The inspiration for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge was the flats themselves.  Their very nature and simplicity got my gears turning when I considered how easily they should handwash and air dry.  I tried it myself, though I was nervous about how they would perform (I had never ever tried flats before then!) and fell in love with everything about them.  For all the reasons listed above, they are prime diapers to hand wash.  Less layers= easier to clean and faster to dry.  Natural fibers= easier to rinse.  Use a camp style bucket washer and plunger or a breathing washer, or wash in the tub or sink.  Flats pack tight so you can still travel and use cloth and wash in the hotel bathroom (done it!) or take them camping if you choose.  They make excellent diapers in an emergency so keeping a pack in case the power goes out is a good idea.  Learn how to make your own camp-style washer and how to handwash.

Budget Friendly.

tshirttinyNo other diaper is as cheap unless it is free.  If you’d like to try one right this instant you can, because flats are everywhere.  Make your own DIY T-shirt Flats (tutorial), run to Target and grab a pack of Flour Sack Towels, or hit up Ikea for their burp cloths.  These options are free or just $.25-$2 per flat.  Our flats challenge survey reported that the average value of a stash of flats was $87, but it can be even less!  Cloth diaper for under $100?  Yes please!    Don’t forget that flats are modernized with the invention of the Snappi, and you can still buy adorable and modern cloth diaper covers in fun prints and modern hues!  There is absolutely no sacrificing convenience, you can even use one size covers.  Flats work great in Flips, Econobum covers, Best Bottoms, GroVia, Gen-Y, Blueberry Capris, Applecheeks covers, Bummis covers, and more.

Sing it with me ya’ll!  


Try them, love them, and re-think how you’ve imagines flats.  Then, become a flat-evangelist like me and teach others how they too can not only diaper inexpensively, but effectively, simply, and amazingly with the world’s most underrated cloth diaper.  You’re gonna love the way flats work, I guarantee it.  (Your voice switched to the Men’s Warehouse Guy didn’t it?  HA, gotcha.)   Don’t forget to check out the Flats Challenge happening soon and pin this fun infographic!  Sign-ups start next week.

Tell me why you love flats in the comments, your voice is appreciated and ther readers love to hear your thoughts.

Written By
More from Kim Rosas

No-Sew Elf on the Shelf Hack {Video}

In 2012 I had a thought- why not add bendable wires to...
Read More
  • Andra

    Thank you for this! When I first decided to try cloth diapering I was so afraid of flats and prefolds which is why I wasn’t going to do cloth. I learned about pockets and started investing and then read more about flats and how easy they are to use. I loved your video and am grateful for the encouragement. The rest of my stash is going to be flats and covers and I honestly wish I hadn’t bought so many pockets already!

  • Weng Rodriguez

    I used flats for my first baby back in 2009 and I remember our neighbor diing the bikini twist fashioned from an flour sack (literally). I was lucky to grab a pack of flats that includes an illustration on how to fold the origami – the text was useless, as it was in Japanese! LOL! I loved it and with prefolds I like the newspaper fold.

    Thanks for the wealth of information Kim. I plan to pass them on when my kids (age 5 and 1, so yeah, it will not be anytime soon) have chidlren of their own.

    • kimrosas

      Oh man I’d love to see those flats! That sounds so cool.

  • Katy Baird

    I bought a pack of FST. I am very familiar with prefolds, but when I go to fold the flat while I have a wet baby wiggling, it ends up a scary mess. (Like making a bed with the dog laying on top of the sheets- it just don’t work) How can I fold my flats, then store them for future use? If I have to fold them every.single.time. I’m not going to use them… 🙁
    Or maybe I’m just using complicated folds…

  • Christin Miller

    Thank you for this article. My youngest is 3 months old and due to skin sensitivity I haven’t been able to use any of my diaper stash. Everything raises big red welts on his thighs. I resorted to using receiving blankets and they worked great and I was able to get another 12 for $10 on a local BST site. A sweet, inexpensive fix and I am absolutely loving the simplicity of it and find folding them almost therapeutic. You are a huge help.

  • Kim

    Great video! For most of it, your mouth and the words are not in sync. There was also a point where I almost turned it off because the birds were piercingly loud that it hurt my ears!

  • Martha Fraizer Beebe

    Kim, thank you for the video and information on flats. I am part of a charity sewing group and we have just been given hundreds of tee-shirts to sew into diapers for a mission I work with in Haiti. I’ve been researching the various instructions out there and many of the cloth diapers seem quite complicated these days, and while that may work for the American mom with a washing machine, the women in Haiti I know don’t have that luxury. They don’t even have running water in their homes (or electricity) and do their laundry at the river or public water source and then drape the cloths over bushes to dry. So your video resonated with me, as they will need something that washes and dries very easily – by hand! Can you tell me the dimensions of the flats? Perhaps I’ll just cut the tee shirts into flats and then we will sew some cute covers with PUL. Thank you from Ohio.

  • Gigi21

    Could anyone possibly tell me the actual product name of the IKEA burp cloths? Thanks! 🙂

  • Katherine Lynn Adams

    hon, i could have written this post! Flats have all the love here in our home 🙂 I use the kite fold and i fold them all at once so theyre ready to go at each diaper change. i find they store very easily in this fold! I’ve been using flats for about a year with no stink, minor stains (even the horrors my 2.5 yr old toddler puts them though fade with 2-3 washes)