Today is the last day of the 4th annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. During the challenge, moms all over the country have used flats and hand washed them. The purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness and spread the word that cloth diapers are a viable option for families struggling to afford clean diapers for their babies, even for those who may not have access to a washer and dryer.
This year's challenge was really nothing new for me - this is my 4th year participating, and *yay* my 4th year completing the challenge. After last year's flats and handwashing challenge - I didn't keep hand washing (as I had considered) but I did line dry much of the year - even indoors. I changed my diapering routine, I used flats and covers until my little man was about 9 months old, then he got REALLY wiggly and strong so i switched to flats and pockets. I wouldn't have switched just because he was trying to crawl away at every diaper change, but I did because I HAD a whole stash of pockets. After a few months of using pockets stuffed with flats I started to go back to flats and covers at home and pockets for while we're out and for nap time. I think I will go back to that routine. It feels weird to do the flats and handwashing challenge and not feel like it has changed me - So, how many challenges does it take before it doesn't even mess with your routine to hand wash and use flats for a week?
4, the answer is 4.
This year my hand washing routine was a little different. I washed my diapers in the afternoon instead of in the morning. (yeah, so mostly exactly the same..) I dried them mostly indoors overnight (only one day did i get around to hanging them outside). I've heard a lot of complaining about drying indoors but it works fine for me, even when I forget to turn on a fan everything is dry in the morning.
This system is doable. Doable as in I could make it work full time for myself - I don't know what i would do with all the other laundry if I didn't have a washer and dryer, but I'm sure I would work that out as well - and being set up to hand wash a small load just might make that easier too. Hand washing fit in with my other kitchen chores. (dishes, sweeping etc) I didn't feel pressured to get them washed and dry by a certain time because i had so.many.flats. I think a stash of 2-3 dozen flats is a good idea - they are so inexpensive, it is worth it to be able to give yourself some wiggle room on washing and be able to use one as a cleaning rag, or doubler without having to worry about running out. I had less help from my kids this year - my 8 year old helped twice, and then she got over it and i just did it myself. Wringing the diapers didn't seem as hard this year, but I had 7-8 diapers in a load instead of the 12 i had last year so that probably explains that - I also feel like i've finally perfected my wringing skills.
I did feel a bit silly at times this year, throwing a load of laundry in the washer and then washing diapers in the sink. Though in a way it was like multitasking and it all got done faster in the end. I feel like my napkins and my big kids' night time super-undies (cloth overnight 'pull ups') got cleaner this week because they were in the washer without a dozen diapers. Thinking about that makes me want to keep hand washing my flats - they really do get just as clean, and as i said last year, it shaves hours and hours off the time my washer is running. In order to make the loads smaller, i would have to wash diapers in the washer EVERY DAY and that would leave not enough time for regular laundry.. or I would be doing laundry pretty much all the time. What felt extra silly was when we got poop on a diaper cover and could have EASILY thrown it in a load of laundry that I had just started, but instead I waited until later to hand wash it and then it wasn't dry in time to use it for bedtime. (I had other covers for bedtime, so no big deal)
Ok. now that i wrote this out, just like last year - hand washing diapers (part time or as is actually needed) is sounding like a real option that i am actually considering. I think I will leave my wet pail of borax-y water under the sink for now and see if i use it.
And PS. once again, blogging is harder to keep up with than the actual challenge. I even skipped a day (no day 6, ha! didn't notice, did you?) It is much harder to fit in quiet time to think and type than it is to throw some diapers in the kitchen sink.