Flats and Handwashing Challenge: Conclusions
I just got done stuffing pocket diapers. Diapers that had been washed in the washing machine along with their inserts that had then been dried in the dryer. That must mean one thing: the handwashing challenge is over.
I must say that I am glad to be able to use my washing machine again, it just makes things much more convenient since there isn't much hands-on work involved. But did I hate the challenge? Not at all! Would I do it again if I needed to? Absolutely!
Actually washing the diapers was not bad at all but when it came time to rinse and wring, my sister and I both agree that a hand crank wringer like in the old days would make things much easier.
I have talked about my thoughts on the washing a few times so that is nothing new. Flats themselves were also nothing new to me. So let's talk about the real reason we took this challenge: low income families going without and reusing disposable diapers. This challenge was supposed to show that cloth diapering can be done without a lot of money or even a washer/dryer. Let's look at two aspects of this, cost and practicality.
The cost can be as minimal as you want. You can make flats out of old clothes and sheets around the house. You can buy plastic or fleece pants as well as make your own fleece covers and pants. Or you can buy flour sack towels from Walmart for less than $1 a piece. You can buy a stash of cloth diapers for your child for less than $30, everything included. While nicer flats and covers must be bought online, those without internet access (or the means to purchase things over the internet) can still use flats.
Now what about the time factor? For stay-at-home parents it would seem as if this would be less of an issue. But several people wrote during the challenge about not being able to wash or having trouble because there was always someone screaming or needing something. But I think this is a problem that can be overcome by finding a more convenient time (wait? is there ever a convenient time for anything with kids?).
But what about single parents? Can you really expect a single mother working two jobs to wash diapers by hand in the little bit of time she has at home? In that case, washing diapers by hand may not be very practical. But what if it is either that or leave her child in a diaper for 12 hours during the day? What if it is wash by hand or not have money to feed her child? I would hope that if put in that situation, I would do the best thing for my child and wash cloth diapers by hand. It would not be easy or fun, but I would do it (I hope).
There are disposable diaper banks out there that thankfully help families in need, but the demand is much higher than the supply. So is there anything we can do to help? Yes, according to Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry. Read her thoughts on the conclusion of the challenge to see how she says we (cloth diaper-ers, that is) can help.