It is day 4 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge !!!
As you may have noticed, I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them. This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world!
Today we're talking about washing. My washing method is simple, I learned a few tricks last year and they are serving me well.
- First things first, recruit helpers. having a helper (ideally ages 4 and up) can really save your arms! This may not last forever, but for a 1 week challenge my kids are ALL about it. And they are ALWAYS up for hanging diapers on my kid-height clothes line.
- use a wet pail, I add borax to my wet pail (helps with diaper stink issues) and keep it in the bathroom in the tub with the door closed so the kids don't mess with it.
- wash in a bucket in the bathtub, with the helpers doing most of the agitation (using gloves or a plunger to protect their skin, though this year we aren't using a plunger because it broke on day 2 of last year's challenge) My wash cycle goes something like this - rinse, wash with detergent (i use charlie's soap) and super hot water, rinse warm, rinse cold, and wring out.
- Washing in the mid-late afternoon still allows for enough sunshine to dry diapers quickly but keeps you from having to work it into the morning routine.
- 10 flats and a cover or two is about the max for a 5 gal bucket, any more than that and you run into problems from overloading your 'washer'.
My flats tend to dry outside within a couple hours, that is without going crazy with the wringing, they are usually still a bit wet when i put them out. If it were cloudy or extra humid I would probably have to do a bit more wringing, or plan for a longer dry time. With 2 kids in flats (one only at night) and 26 flats, I am no where near running out at the end of the day but it is still important to try to wash every day. That way, you don't run out (if it rains on your drying diapers, or something comes up and you miss a wash day). Plus, if i waited until i had 20+ dirty flats it would take twice as long to wash them.
My conclusion on hand washing, in general, is that it is 100% do-able, but it would be WAY more sustainable and easier with once a week machine washing thrown in there. I think if i were doing this full time it would be worth it to drag all the diapers to grandma's house or a laundromat once a week. For a camping trip, or a weekend out of town i would prefer flats to any other kind of cloth diapers, no one likes to bring home a bag of dirty diapers. I did use flats and hand wash them for a 3 day trip last summer. A days worth of flats easily dried overnight in a hotel bathroom. Once hand washing is worked into your routine, its no harder than putting away a basket of laundry, or emptying the dishwasher. Sure, sometimes adding one more thing seems a bit overwhelming, but you get over it.