It’s Day 4 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge! The 450+ of us participating are over half-way through our week long commitment to use flat diapers, with no washer or dryer. If you are just joining us and wondering what it’s all about, you can read more details here.
Today the bloggers participating are sharing how we are doing, and what our thoughts are on handwashing so far. I know I’ve giving some daily updates about that as well. I will start by saying the Challenge feels easier than it did last year. I think there are two reasons for that.
For one thing, I’m only cloth diapering one child this time, not two. That makes a big difference in the amount of flats used (and therefore washed!), especially since I was having to use two flats at each change to get enough absorbancy for my 2 year old. That also means I’m less stressed about how quickly they dry. I came very close to running out several times last year.
Another reason the Challenge is easier this year is because I’ve done it before. Last year I spent a lot of the Challenge just trying to find my groove and figure out how on earth to get my diapers clean. By the end of the week I had finally found a system that worked well, and I’ve been able to use that from the get-go this time.
So what’s my system?
Rinse each diaper immediately after diaper change.
I find this helps a lot with stink issues, and means I don’t have to agitate as long to get them clean. My arms thank me!
This was suggested by a few people last year, and it really does seem to make a huge difference. As soon as I finish rinsing the diaper, I drop it into the rubbermaid container I wash in, which I leave sitting in my tub all day. I have just enough water in there to cover the diapers, and I put a little bit of baking soda in there, too. I make sure to keep the bathroom door shut to keep my toddler away from it, but I already do that to keep him from playing in the toilet. He has a thing for water. Ugh. Oh, and I do not soak the covers. I wash them out by hand immediately and hang them up to dry.
When I get ready to wash, I pour out the cold water and fill the rubbermaid back up with hot water. I add just a little bit of soap (its hard not to use to much!), and then agitate the diapers for a bit with my hands.
I let the diapers soak in the warm water for about 20-30 minutes. The amount of time varies depending on what else I’m doing!
I agitate again for awhile, and then I sniff the diapers to be sure they smell clean. If they do, I move onto the next step. If not, I keep agitating, or let them sit for awhile longer.
I pour everything out of the rubbermaid, rinse the rubbermaid out, and add a bit more water to it. I rinse each diaper out under the faucet, and then put it back in the rubbermaid. I agitate everything again for awhile, and then pour the water back out. Then I just rinse each diaper individually under the faucet, wetting and squeezing until I either don’t see any bubbles, or not very many (depending on how tired I am!).
Then comes my least favorite step, and that’s trying to wring as much water as possible out of the diapers so they will dry quickly. I tend to fold them in half and then twist and twist and twist as much as I can. I tried wearing my rubber gloves for this step, but it tended to cause even more rubbing on my hands, so I do it with my bare hands now. I’m working on some good blisters…
I’ve been doing this step in my basement the entire challenge. Washing at night seems to work best for me, so I can’t really line dry outside.
So how am I doing?
Pretty good. Last time by this point in the Challenge, I was completely exhausted, and couldn’t wait for it to be over. But this time around I’m doing a lot better. If I needed to keep doing this for several more weeks, I could. But I’d have much stronger arms, and some serious callouses! It is hard. It is another demand on my time at the end of a long day, when I would much rather sit and read a book, watch some tv, or catch up on blog posts. But if my family needed me to do this so we could get by, I would. And if it was this or re-using disposable diapers? I would do it in a heartbeat.
I think I would be a lot more motivated to learn about Elimination Communication, though! It can’t be a coincidence that in many places where women still handwash on a regular basis, EC is widely practiced.
On another note, I found my pins, so I’ve been playing with folds again. Check out my smiling model!