So, why would these families not just use cloth diapers? Well, there is an initial start up cost and laundering tasks. Low income families often don’t own a washing machine so how would they wash the diapers?
In our home we use “modern” cloth diapers like BumGenius and Fuzzibunz (to name a few). This means, they are almost just like a disposable except they are made of cotton and polyester which can be washed and reused. In fact, Jennifer Labit, the inventor of BumGenius, was in the exact economic situation I described above. She turned her situation into a hugely successful enterprise. These modern ones are also significantly more expensive than the old school flat diapers.
Additionally, we have a diaper sprayer so no dunking or swishing in the toilet. Just spray off into the toilet. Add this to modern cloth diapers and there is a reason it has been so easy for us. More expensive than flat diapers but still less than the total cost of disposables over the diapering years of a single child.
Flat cloth diapers are “old school”. These are the birds eye cotton single layer diapers my mother used, but they can also include other single layer cotton fabrics like flannel or old t-shirt jersey material. In fact, I was telling my mom about this challenge and asking her if she’d be fine changing the baby during the week of this challenge. She smiled and said, “Now these are cloth diapers. I can help you.”
Kim, at Dirty Diaper Laundry, one of my favorite cloth diaper blogs, came up with the Flats Challenge. You can ready more here if you’d like. Here are the rules:
· You MUST use Flats.
· You MUST handwash them. How is up to you. (bathtub, sink, large wash tub, portable non electronic washing machine, or camp style washer (bucket and plunger- think churning butter)
· You MUST air dry them. (indoors or outdoors, makes no difference)
· You MUST limit your number of covers in rotation to 5 or less.
· You can use any detergent you want. (Keep in mind that you still want cloth safe detergents)
· You can still use your nighttime diapers but I ask that you try to make flats work. Maybe try a prefold wrapped in a flat.
· You can use disposable liners.
· You CAN’T use a diaper sprayer. I thought long and hard about this one, but at an average cost of 40.00 this is one diaper accessory that is out of range for many families. Dunk, swish, flush, or scrape!
· You MUST start the morning of May 23 and end the evening of May 30.