26 May 2013

Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 7

Flats and Hand Washing Challenge Day 7

It's the last day of the 2013 Annual Flats and Hand Washing Challenge!

So how did it go?

The good 

  • Receiving blankets as flats are awesome. I really don't know why more people don't use them instead of the bulky terry squares, especially when they are sooo much nicer and not much more expensive. 
  • A large receiving blanket is a super cheap (and very effective!) overnight diapering solution. And the funny part is that it's less bulky than our regular overnight diapers with no strong ammonia smell in the mornings. 
  • I am pretty impressed with myself that I could actually clean diapers effectively without my trusty washing machine. This gives me great confidence that I'll be able to continue cloth diapering even in an emergency situation - awesome!

The bad 

  • Wringing diapers out by hand sucks. Big time. My least favourite part of the challenge. I found myself thinking on more than one occasion that I wouldn't have too much of a problem continuing with hand washing if I could end it off with a spin cycle in the washing machine just to avoid wringing out diapers!
  • Bad planning means you will end up with an out-of-diaper situation. I am used to line drying diapers, but wringing out diapers is much less efficient than the spin cycle of the washing machine, so they took much longer to dry than expected. 
  • It took a while to get into the groove of a hands-on daily washing routine. I am fortunate to be at home during the afternoons, which enabled me to fit the washing in during the day to still catch the last rays of sunlight. If you are out of the house from 8 - 5, it will be much more difficult to fit in hand washing on top of everything else that needs to be crammed into the few evening hours. 
Flats and Hand Washing Challenge Day 7
Sometimes hand washing sucks
The ugly 

  • We had a few poops this week (NOT ploppable - thanks A!) and I was expecting it to be ugly, but it really wasn't bad. I simply swished the diaper in the toilet (I decided to forego the diaper sprayer this week to make the challenge more authentic) and then let it soak before proceeding with the wash. And since none of the process involves actual scrubbing on my part, I never had to come in contact with poop.

Is this something I would want to continue doing? 

I will most likely keep a few receiving blankets as part of our stash to use alongside our prefolds. I am not a fan of the terry squares - they are bulky and take longer to dry than the receiving blankets. But obviously if money is an issue, they would be the best choice as they are a bit cheaper than receiving blankets. 

I am also very happy that I don't have to continue hand washing diapers, but instead have the luxury of using my washing machine again from tomorrow. 

What did I learn? 

The past week has been a great learning experience - how to use flats, which folds work best, how to wash them, how to dry them. It's given me some insight into the practical problems some families might face who can't afford modern cloth diapers or disposables and honestly it's been an eye-opener. The challenges for me was to find a washing method that worked (as you recall I was clueless at the start of this week and washing in the tub did not work out too well), figuring out how to get the most water out of the diapers before line drying and figuring out how to fit hand washing into our daily routine. 

Flats and Hand Washing Challenge Day 7
Receiving blankets as flats are awesome
I realise that choosing to do a seven day experiment is not the same as doing this out of necessity and doing it full-time. I also realise that for me this challenge was much easier than it might be for someone who truly has no other choice but to hand wash flats and often works long hours and has a long commute by train to factor in as well. And on top of that the truly poor person would have to stay on top of all the other household chores as well (cooking, cleaning, clothes laundry), while I am fortunate to have help around the house. 

This challenge has taught me that cloth diapering is feasible if you don't own a washing machine or can't afford modern cloth diapers. It's not always glamorous or the easiest option, but it is a feasible and budget-friendly option. And if you do own a washing machine, then using flats is really no big deal and a very affordable way to cloth diaper. If I were a SAHM and starting out a cloth diaper stash, I would buy a dozen receiving blankets, 2 snappi's, 3 - 4 PUL covers (I would buy Alva pockets and covert them to covers by cutting out the lining) and perhaps one or two fleece or woolen soakers to use at night. And I would never had to buy another diaper again! 

Most of all this challenge has shown me just how lucky I am to have the luxury of owning a washing machine and to be able to choose which cloth diapers to use based on things other than budgetary constraints. An important lesson to learn, I think. 

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