I can't believe our week of handwashing is already over! This was a fun challenge; I learned a lot and thought about things I never considered before. It pushed me to try diapering methods I'd never tried before and to troubleshoot and problem solve to make them work for us. By the end of the week I was happy with our folding routine, washing routine, and nighttime diapering routine. I didn't change anything about our busy schedule because of the challenge. We still had several very full days of errands, baseball games for our older children, and even a long car trip yesterday (2 hour drive to a friends farm, 2 hours at the farm, 3 hour drive home because of a stop for lunch) and all while using organic cotton interlock flat diapers, Boingo fasteners, OS Wool Wrap Diaper Covers AND handwashing them in our tub each night as well as getting everything dry in time for the next day! I also hand washed our wet bags, cloth wipes, and some single-layer doublers.
Here's how we did:
Our tiny Challenger, sweet little Eilidh Marie.
Day 1: We used 8 flats, 3 wool covers. 2 covers had to be washed because of blowouts. The nighttime flat I made from hemp french terry didn't work out because the fabric wasn't pre-washed and the pee just rolled right out the leg, lol, the flat wasn't even wet! Ooops, I should know better!!
Day 2: Experimented with different folds. Used 8 flats and 4 covers. Had to wash all of my covers because our experiments didn't really pan out and we weren't getting enough absorbency from our folding techniques! Nighttime diaper rocked! After 1 hand pre-washing I got it to absorb!
Day 3: We used 8 flats again, 3 wool covers. No covers had to be washed - YAY! But I did wash my older child's wool trainer (which he now wears just like underwear without an insert) because he had an accident. I didn't have a hemp flat dry for nighttime so Eilidh spent the night in a OS Sherpa Gussetted Contour Snap-in Diaper (with hemp) and I still handwashed this diaper the next day. The new OS Sherpa Snap-in Diapers are soooo awesome and absorbent BTW. We are loving ours for nighttime use!! We were back to our original fold today and it worked GREAT. Wonderful absorbency, no troubles.
Day 4: 8 flats, 3 covers.
Day 5: 8 flats, 4 covers.
Day 6: 7 flats, 4 covers.
Day 7: 8 flats, 2 covers all day, we were traveling a lot this day! Then a 3rd cover for bedtime.
With an older baby (19 months) we never needed more than 8 flats and 4 covers. For car trips and overnight we used a Wooly Booster for extra protection. I had two of these in our rotation this week. I check her diaper every hour, but now that she's older she tends to hold her pee for longer and the go A LOT all at once, haha. :)
Now that we have completed the challenge, I will say this, cloth diapering with inexpensive flat diapers is DEFINITELY possible and even enjoyable. Once you learn the folds that work best for you and your baby you will be able to to streamline your system by pre-folding and you'll be doing it with your eyes closed after a few days! If you don't have access to a washer and dryer, handwashing is also definitely possible and doable. It might get tedious and I'm not going to lie, I am glad I don't have to handwash tonight, but it really didn't disrupt our routine too much! The key for me was doing the wash after my kids went to bed. It was just a quiet part of my day. Washing and hanging the diapers and then tidying up the house and going to bed. If I had tried to take care of it while all 4 of my kids were up and running around the house I would have probably gotten stressed!
The challenge made me realize that families in financial crisis, who don't have a washer or dryer, would also probably be washing their entire family's laundry by hand. That would be pretty extreme for us. We have a family of 6 and even though I was hand washing diapers for a week I was definitely still doing a lot of other laundry in our machines! I thought about how I could cut down the amount of clothing, towels, and bedding that we own to make handwashing a possibility for all our other laundry. It could be done, and I even drove by a farm yesterday and saw several long laundry lines strung out and the laundry of what clearly was a large family all hanging in the sun. It made me think about how all laundry used to be managed that way and we just had smaller wardrobes of better quality clothing. Washing machine or not, I think I'd like that for our family. We could certainly make our life simpler by cutting down on the amount of clothing and other washables in our life.
Finally, I want to talk about cost. We have chosen, for our family and our business, to commit ourselves to using completely natural, and wherever possible, certified organic fibers for diapering. This choice is not just about keeping harmful residues from chemicals and pesticides away from our child's skin, but also about supporting sustainable, organic agriculture and processing methods that keep harmful chemicals and pesticides away from ALL people, both in the field and factory, and out of our streams, rivers, and soils so that we can preserve this beautiful Earth for future generations. I fully realize that not everyone can afford to purchase organic products, as they are usually quite a bit more expensive than conventional products. The more those of us who CAN afford them act/speak/vote by using our purchasing power towards organic and sustainable products the more affordable we make them for everyone else.
This challenge has really made me think hard about affordability. I would love for everyone who wants them to be able to afford to diaper their baby in our organic cotton diapers and wool covers. I am brainstorming an economical diaper package/system that will make natural fiber diapers and wool more readily available to families on a budget. With the expense of having a large family and a small farm to run, plus a growing business, I definitely understand being on a budget even though I recognize how lucky our family is in so many ways to have access to things we take for granted like washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, a roof over our head, and room in our budget for some luxury expenditures like occasionally eating out and entertainment items like movies, books, iPads, etc.
Here's what the cost of our diaper stash for the week would look like (using our maximum of 10 flats and 4 covers + accessories):
8 x Organic Cotton Flat Diapers (homemade from fabric yardage): $32
2 x Organic Cotton/Hemp Nighttime Flat Diapers (homemade from fabric yardage): $14
4 x Organic Cotton Doublers: $0 (used scraps from making the flat diapers)
2 x Wooly Boosters: $20 (retail price)
12 x Organic Sherpa Cloth Wipes: $24 (retail price)
Our total stash cost:
Stash with Large Wool Wrap Covers (3/4) = $204 / $242
Stash with OS Wool Wrap Covers (3/4) = $252 / $306
So roughly, $300 from birth to potty if you're using the OS Wool Wraps, which are good from 10 lbs through potty training (over 30 lbs).
No too bad considering that the average family will spend over $2000 on even the generic brand disposable diapers from birth through to potty training.
Finally, some news! Thanks to this inspiring challenge, we will be adding hand-dyed organic flats to our product lineup very soon! We expect to receive the organic cotton interlock yardage this week and I'll be busy dying our interlock in 6 different beautiful colors, which will be available as flats in two sizes! Our new solid colors will also be available in OS Fitted Diapers, OS Wool Wrap Covers, and Pull-On Wool Covers.
Thanks for following along with the Flats Challenge this past week!
Peace, Love, & Happy Diapering!