I used and hand washed flat cloth diapers from May 23-May 30, 2011 on my two children, ages 19 months and three years. I had 24 flat diapers, and rotated between seven covers (five for my younger son, and two for my older son, who only wears a diaper at night).
How did I like flats?
Flats have been great! In fact, we are using them still as our everyday diapers. I stuff them in pockets when out and about and use them at home, day and night.
How did the washing go?
I am a stay-at-home-mom, and I found it difficult to keep up with washing diapers and getting them dry quickly enough to use again. During periods of nice weather, drying is quick and easy, but since I live in Michigan, outdoor drying is really only possible about five or six months out of the year, as long as the weather cooperates. I am not saying that using flats and hand washing long-term is impossible, but it would be significantly easier, particularly with a little baby, if a family had thirty-six flats and was able to add extra covers to the mix in order to cloth diaper full-time. I would also recommend that the diapers be washed in a machine about once per week to make sure that they are getting good and clean.
A few more points of interest:
- Joshua’s usually easily-irritated bottom cleared up and remained rash-free throughout the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. In fact, this is the best that his diaper area has looked in weeks.
- I have come to really like flats for their versatility: there are tons of ways to fold it, it can be worn under any cover, or coverless, and I’ve used it successfully as the insert in a pocket diaper. I’m actually wishing now that I had not been so hesitant to try flats when we first starting using cloth diapers.
- I am very pleased to have learned how to hand wash diapers. Although we have camped with cloth diapers before, it was only for a couple of days, so no washing was necessary. Now that I have used flats and hand washed for a week, I can see myself employing the method on vacation, or if any emergency-type situation should ever arise.
My Final Impression:
If I had to use flats and hand wash, I would do so as much as possible. I believe that using flats and hand washing would be a good way for low-income families to stretch their budget, even if they were able to do so only on a part-time basis. Now that I have completed the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, I feel like I can whole-heartedly recommend cloth diapers to anyone. More importantly, I can show others, if they are interested, how to cloth diaper their children on a tight budget.