Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flats and Handwashing Tell-All

So, it's over.  It's officially, finally over.  What a long week!

A recap, for those who missed it: This past week, May 23-29, I participated in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, as proposed by Dirty Diaper Laundry here.  The gist of the challenge is this: use nothing but flats and covers for 7 straight days.  Handwash everything.  Line or hang to dry.  There was no set limit to the number of flats that could be used, but the covers were limited to 5.  Repeat for 7 days, tell everyone all about it, and fill out a survey.  Easy Peasy!

I hadn't ever used flats, so I didn't really know what to expect.  In fact, the first time I ever saw a flat was when I received my package of Diaper Rite flats from Diaper Junction!  So, flats turned out to be big flat squares of fabric!  I also purchased a 3-pack of Flour Sack Towels from Target.  Next came the task of learning to fold them.  Easy, right?  Except that there are about 47 billion options for folding, if not more.  I tried a bunch of them, and finally decided on the Pad Fold and the Origami Fold, with the Origami being my primary fold.

I have to say, overall the diapering part of the challenge was easy.  Super easy.  I'm not an expert on flats by any means, but I'd like to say I can now fold and pin with the best of them!  I kept 2 stacks of diapers on my changing station (aka dryer).  One stack I had folded Origami-style, for when Stinky laid still, and one stack folded Pad-style, for when Stinky was feelings wiggly.  The pad fold diapers lay easily in a cover.  Use them just like a prefold!  The origami is a little harder to maneuver, but with just a flat, a cover, and 1 safety pin, you get great, absorbent coverage!  As I said, this was my primary fold for the week, even when...especially when...a tummy bug hit at the end of the week!

Ease of handwashing varied depending on the day.  Most of the week, I washed as I went.  It's really easy and quick to just wash a diaper or two and throw them on the line!  I could do that in my sleep.  In fact, I might have!  A couple times I waited for various reasons and ended up with 6 or 7 diapers to wash.  I was washing in the bathroom sink, which is the size of...a bathroom 6 or 7 diapers and it was FULL!  Add water, and I had to move everything off the counter to keep it all out of my "splash zone."  Still, handwashing was not that bad...

...UNTIL.  Handwashing wasn't that bad, even with actually using my hands, until Stinky got a tummy bug.  It hit hard Saturday morning.  I'm talking the wake up at 5am screaming covered in vomit kind of tummy bug.  The mommy has to wash everything withing a 5 foot radius of the crib tummy bug.  I'm talking the 6 dirty diapers in a day kind of tummy bug.  (No stranger to you newbie mamas, but to those of us with 15 month olds, 6 dirties a day is a LOT!)  THIS mama is over-concerned about diapers being sanitary.  More than not wanting to handwash the diapers, I wanted to be SURE they were clean.  So, I jumped the handwashing ship....For 4 diapers.  And then Stinky's belly regulated and I decided to finish my last day strong!  So Sunday, we were back on the handwashing wagon!  I only did 4 diapers in the washer.  I felt good about that!

That's the recap.  It went well.

Here's what I learned:

Flats are absorbent.  SUPER absorbent.
Flats are customizable.  You can fold them to fit your baby no matter how big baby is!
Flats are economical.  The Diaper Rite flats from Diaper Junction are just $16 for a dozen!
Flats are easy.  MUCH easier than I anticipated.  You just have to figure out what works for you.
Flats are better than microfiber inserts.  (I actually learned this after the challenge.  MUCH more absorbent!)
Flats dry really REALLY quickly!  I'm talking less than an hour on the line in the sun.
Speaking of took ALL stains out of my flats!  They're thin, and I think the sun is magical on them!
Handwashing isn't that bad.  I won't do it because I don't have to, but if I did have to, I wouldn't mind.
You'll need more lotion than normal if you're handwashing!
Different covers work better for flats than others.  You need to find what will work best for you, because it's different for everyone.  I still prefer snaps!
Large safety pins are easier to use than diaper pins.  (I can't vouch for snappis...I can't find mine.)
My baby does not digest mandarin oranges.  AT. ALL.
My baby doesn't digest grapes, either.

There are other things I learned as well.  Those are the main ones that pop to mind, though.

One thing I've been struggling with, though, is that I changed the way I fed Stinky so I wouldn't have to clean the "nastier" things out of his diapers by hand.  I'm struggling with it because I am not sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing.  You see, Stinky has slow digestion, and some things simply don't ever process.  I was careful not to feed him these things because they come out gross.  I was frustrated with myself at first, knowing I was changing his eating for my benefit.  The more I think about it, though, the more I think maybe it was a good thing.  I was much more "in tune" with his belly when I was handwashing.  Maybe that was a good thing.  Maybe I need to remember to avoid the icky stuff altogether.  Maybe.

All in all, it was a great learning experience for me!  And you know what?  I've used flats, by my own choice, several times this week!

Oh...and when you take your pocket diapers off the line, can you use them to do this?

That's right!  All my fresh-off-the-line diapers are in there!


Mehera said...

I love flats as well and use them all time! I never mastered pins, so I stick with Snappis..and I"ve never handwashed but may have to while on vacation so it is comforting to know its not that bad!!

Lisa said...

I loved reading your flats challenge. Knowing you can handwash can come in handy in a pinch!

smackarias said...

wow! i'm not sure i could do the handwashing thing... and i'm so stuck on pockets, i'm not even sure i could do the flats... good for you!

Andrea G. said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! I wanted to undertake this challenge but I don't have a baby to change lol.

Elizabeth said... should try flats! They even make great inserts for pockets! To the rest of you? Handwashing wasn't FUN but it was totally doable. And you just never know when you might need it!

Stephanie said...

I'm new to cloth diapering, so I've never heard of flats. I might try them. As for the handwashing, I don't know if I could handle it for a week. You're a brave woman to take on the challenge.

jdm2551 said...

I am so thankful for a washing machine when it comes time to do diapers!! I can't imagine doing diapers without one! And TUMMY BUG DIAPERS!! WOAH!! You go girl!!

SondraMama said...

i totally use flats all the time! i love them!

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