Monday, May 23, 2016

Wrapping Up the Flats Challenge - I Survived!

All I can say is, thank the LORD for my washing machine! I have gained such an appreciation for the luxuries I have and my modern cloth diapers. Actually using flats and covers was not difficult or terrible at all. They were actually super duper absorbent and dried quickly. However, the washing was a chore I am not sad to see disappear from my line up.

To unpack my final thoughts a little bit, I am really impressed with how well the bucket and plunger works. It got my diapers fantastically clean and white. They smelled fresh and there were limited stains. If I was ever in a situation where I needed to hand wash, the bucket and plunger would be my go-to. I was also very impressed with Foca, which I bought specifically for this challenge since it is not formulated for my HE machine.

The ease of the prewash was appealing to me as well. I considered how much water I might save doing my prewash in the bucket instead of using the washing machine. I can certainly see it saving us some money in the long run.

However, the number one drawback to the challenge was that I just didn't have the time to spend plunging diapers in my bathroom while my young kids were running around the house. I have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. The 8 month old would constantly crawl into my bathroom, which is obviously not ok because he could get into the toilet or trash if not closely supervised, so I had to constantly redirect him. This is not a ideal especially if I had my gloves on and was touching the dirty diapers and then had to quickly strip the gloves and grab a baby.

Another drawback was that I just don't have enough space to hang the diapers if I don't wash every day. My drying rack has limited space and when I tried using clothes hangers over the shower rod, those diapers did not dry and I had to transfer them to the rack once the first batch was dried. I am accustomed to hang drying my covers, but those dry fast inside or out. I couldn't set my diapers outside some days due to rain, so drying inside took ages.

I also missed my beloved GroVia stash, especially my overnight ONE's. We rejoiced when we put on our first ONE on the last night of the challenge.

I love you, washing machine! I will never take you for granted again!

I do want to say, though, that while I am being quite candid with you here about how much I appreciate my washer, I think the bucket and plunger is a great option for those who are in a financial situation to necessitate it. It makes cloth diapering possible when otherwise families might not be able to provide hygienic diapers for their baby. For that, I am incredibly grateful for Kim Rosas and the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Shining a light on ways to handwash effectively is a fabulous mission and I'm honored to have been apart of it. I will most likely be participating next year and I foresee that it will be much easier since I will have some experience under my belt!

My final takeaway is that I will be using fleece liners full time now! I had previously been using Viva paper towels and was not happy with the fuzzies they left on my baby's booty or the fact that they often ripped. Fleece kept him dry and was easy to dunk and swish.

For a final look at the challenge and a participant survey, head over to Challenge Day 7.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flats Challenge Wash Routine

Hi, this is Bethany, and today I am bringing you probably the most sought-after post of the challenge. We will be conquering the wash routine! I have seriously been handwashing every day this week and while it is different, it hasn't been too bad! This is just how I personally did it. So without further adieu...

Like I mentioned on Day 2 when I discussed what I bought for the challenge, I am using a camp washer, or bucket and plunger, to do my handwashing. I started by having my husband drill a hole in the lid so I could fit the plunger handle through. He is such a good sport with all of my crazy projects!

I recommend doing 1 day of diapers at a time if you are using a 5 gallon bucket. Any more and they will not fit or agitate well. This may mean you wash every day or do 2 loads ever other day. I have one 8 month old baby in diapers, so plan according to your child(ren).

Remember that all poop should be plopped in the toilet prior to washing. My baby eats solids, so we dump poop off of the fleece liner and then if necessary, I dunk the liner into the toilet to get all poop off and then wash my hands. It's just will not die. I have never handwashed EBF (exclusively breastfed) poop diapers, however, I imagine it would be easier to wash EBF if it had been rinsed prior. 

Step One: Cold Rinse (no detergent)
Fill bucket 3/4 full with cold water, place lid on the bucket, and plunge 50 times. Wait 5 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water. This water will be really discolored, like urine, and will really let you know you are getting tons of gross-ness out before your detergent gets to work!

Step Two: First Hot Wash (with detergent)
In the empty bucket (I dumped the diapers into the bathtub) I added 2 TBSP of Foca detergent and 1 TBSP of Borax (for softening my hard water). Add about an inch of water and swish around until the powders dissolve. Then add diapers and fill to 3/4 full. Replace lid. 

I have read many statements that 1 TBSP of detergent is enough, but I used 2 and did not have excessive suds or need excessive rinsing, so I was fine using 2. You can play around with this as long as your diapers are getting clean. 

Plunge 50 times. Wait at least 10 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water. 

Soaking really is amazing! You can walk away after those first 50 plunges and let it soak while you make dinner, tend to kids, or whatever. Just make sure the water is kept securely away from children who don't need to stick their hands in the water or worse, fall in. 

Step Three: Second Hot Wash (with detergent)
Basically repeat step two! Add detergent, swish to dissolve, add diapers, fill to 3/4. Plunge 50 times. Wait 10 minutes. Plunge 50 more times. Dump water.

Step Four: Cold Rinse (no detergent)
I have always briefly rinsed by hand just to get a little extra detergent out and then filled the bucket to 3/4. Plunge 50 times. Wait 5 minutes. Plunge 50 times.

At this point check the diapers to see if they are slimy or sudsy. If they are, you may want to rinse by hand under the faucet. If not, just begin wringing them out. You can either dump the water out before or after you wring the diapers.

To wring, squeeze out all the water by balling up the diaper first. Then, wring by twisting small segments of the diaper at a time. As much water as you can wring out manually will speed up the drying process. Remember, no electric dryer!

Step Five: Hang Dry
You can use either a clothes line, drying rack (like I have here), towel rods in the bathroom, hangers over the towel rod, or any method you like to get things dry! As you can see, I barely had room for the days diapers on my rack. I also have a microfiber insert on the front there. I did not cheat and use it on the challenge! It was from the evening before the challenge but I did not have time to wash it before Monday so I stuck to the rules and hand washed it as well. It took forever to dry, so I'm glad I wasn't using that type of insert for the challenge.

I finished my routine right about 9 PM and left the diapers to dry inside. The next morning when I checked them, the FSTs and fleece liners were dry, but the wipes were still damp. The cover was damp as well. It rained that day so I left them inside for the entire day.

On Wednesday of the challenge, I washed in the morning instead of evening and got to dry them outside for the afternoon. The FSTs and fleece dried within a few hours but the wipes were still damp for a while. I accidentally left the wipes and cover outside all night (oops!) and the next morning they were still damp, possibly from dew.

See, not too difficult! I talked a lot with every step, so it may seem lengthy at first glance, but it really doesn't take more than 1.5 hours if you do every step back to back without waiting too long during the soaks.

To check out others' wash routines, head over to today's Day Four Link Up at Dirty Diaper Laundry.
And as usual, to review the rules of the challenge, check out the sign up.

Does this sound like something you would do? Why or why not?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Flats Challenge - Day 3 - Myths of Cloth Diapering

Hi, I'm Bethany and today is Day 3 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Today's blog linkup  is open topic, so I decided to discuss some of the misconceptions about cloth that make people think they can't use it.

The number one myth I hear is that they take a lot of time to wash. I hear moms say, "Well if I was a stay at home mom, maybe I could do that." However, cloth is just two, maybe three extra loads of laundry per week at my house. To make it even easier, I throw baby and kid clothing into the main wash with my cloth, which I would have to wash anyway, so there is really only the prewash to call an 'extra' load. I have discussed our wash routine at the end of this post and I think it is very easy. You can use tons of different brands of laundry detergent, too, so I don't think you will be put-out by washing cloth!

Number two is that cloth makes your house stink. This has never been true for me for a number of reasons - we wash our diapers a few times a week, so they do not sit around and accumulate smell. We also use a wetbag with an overlapping opening on top which allows airflow without being truly open. Some people use a pail liner inside a laundry basket made with holes, which gives optimum airflow. It is important for cloth to get air in order to stop the moisture from growing mildew or mold. It also eliminates some of the stink. Another helpful tip is to rinse out any overnight diapers and let them dry before throwing them in the pail. I find that the overnight pee diapers will smell just about the worst, and rinsing totally stops that.

Another myth is that you can't use cloth when you are out. I'm sure you don't want to go into a restaurant and smell like a dirty diaper. That's why I love zippered wet bags! These travel sized bags can hold several diapers and the zipper totally seals in the smell. If you are using pockets or all-in-one style diapers, wrap up the cover like you would a disposable and use the snaps to keep all messes locked in!
He knows he is cute!
One of the most ridiculous misconceptions I've heard is that cloth delays development or causes physical problems. This is simply untrue! Consider that until the 70s, cloth was all people used, and we don't have millions of people from the previous generation with physical delays or infant hip problems. My son has been 99% cloth diapered since birth and is quite a large guy. He has consistently met every physical milestone and now at 8 months is cruising along furniture and standing up without holding on.

The final myth I want to tackle is one I believed for a short time - that cloth isn't much better for the environment or your budget because it uses so much water. Some people on the internet (so you know, total experts. *sarcasm font*) have introduced the idea that the water used to grow cotton crops for cloth production and the water you use on a weekly basis for washing is actually doing harm to the environment. I want to ask though, are these people not wearing cotton clothes that they then wash? Do they not use cotton sheets, towels, covered furniture? These are much more prominent than cloth in the typical home. Cloth diapers can also be used for many children and then when they have worn out their usefulness (when they get holes, for example) they can be used as cleaning rags. Simply sanitize the diapers and then throw them in your tool box or garage for a dirty job. Disposable diapers also exhaust resources when they are produced and then instead of being reused indefinitely, they are promptly thrown into the trash and hauled to a landfill where they may take hundreds of years to decompose. I don't see how this is a good argument at all. As far as personal finances, we have not seen our water bill go up any more than when we were not using cloth. We still had to wash children's clothing and we still had to wash poop or pee soiled clothing because kids have accidents - actually a lot more blow outs happen in disposables than in cloth because cloth has back gussets (elastic around the baby's waist in the back - I know we have all seen a little baby with liquidy poop up their back.)

So, I hope you have seen that cloth is really not a hassle. It is actually quite convenient, and I personally enjoy the thousands of dollars saved per child that I get to use on other things.

Did I miss any misconceptions that you can dispel?

To review the rules of the challenge, check out Flats Challenge rules and sign up.
For today's link up, head over to Dirty Diaper Laundry for Day 3 - Open Topic.

Also don't miss Day One - Why I Joined the Challenge and Day Two - What Am I Using? What Does It Cost? here on That Hippie Friend blog. ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Flats Challenge - What Am I Using? What Does It Cost?

Hi again, I'm Bethany and I am continuing the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. Today I will be sharing my #StashShot and breaking down exactly how much I spent on everything. Yesterday I shared my motivation for joining the challenge.

In the cloth diapering community, parents often call their cloth diapers their "stash" and are very proud to show it off. There have been hashtag movements like #StashShotSunday where we line up all of our pretties, take a photo, and post it to private cloth diapering Facebook pages. It's super fun to see what types of diapers other parents are using.

For the challenge, I chose to use Flour Sack Towels (henceforth called FSTs) from Walmart as my exclusive absorbency. I purchased 20 FSTs the week before the challenge and paid $7.88 for each pack of 10. That is less than $1 per FST, which is awesome in my book. There was also the option of buying a pack of 5 for $4.34 or 1 FST for $0.97. I already had 10 FSTs which were a part of my regular line up, prior to the challenge.

I will also be using covers, which are a waterproof outer layer with no absorbency. I have chosen to use mostly my Flip covers because they are easy to wipe out between changes. These covers will be rotated throughout the day since it is very easy to wipe off any pee residue which may have touched it and let it air dry between changes. The exception to this will be Saturday when I am hosting a booth for GroVia at a local birth fair, so I will be using my GroVia covers.

My accessories will include fleece liners made from a fleece throw blanket I got from Walmart for $1.88 and cut up. Fleece liners will make it easy to dump poop into the toilet, making washing so much easier! They are also a stay-dry barrier which wicks moisture away from baby's bottom, keeping him happier.

I will also be using homemade flannel wipes sprayed with tap water, a large wet bag to store the diapers in, and a metal drying rack.

Old photo featuring some of my regular (non challenge compliant) stash

To wash, I decided to go with a camp washer, which is comprised of a 5 gallon bucket and plunger. The plunger provides agitation. I will go into full detail on my wash routine later this week! On a cloth diaper washing site I frequent, there has been a lot of talk about Foca detergent being a top pick, but it is not safe for HE machines so I never tried it until now. It is crazy cheap. I also have tested my water and it is hard, so I will be adding Borax to each load.

Stash Cost Breakdown

  • 30 FSTs - $23.64
  • 4 Covers - $14.95 each - $59.80 (However, I bought 2 of mine from a local Buy/Sell/Trade for about half price and another one brand new on a Cotton Babies sale for about 10% off. For the purpose of showing what they would cost new, though, we will say $14.95.)
  • 40 Fleece Liners - $1.88
  • 25 Flannel Wipes - $2.00
  • Spray Bottle - $1.00
  • Pail Liner - $15.25

Camp Washer Cost Breakdown

  • 5 gallon Bucket with Lid - $2.98
  • Plunger - $2.98 

Detergent Cost Breakdown

  • Foca powder (4.4lb bag)  - $3.59
  • Borax (76 oz box) - $4.17 (Optional, for Hard Water)

Total: $117.29

Remember, this is only the start-up cost. You will be able to re-use everything except the detergent and optional water softener (Borax) for the entirety of your 3 year (or more) diapering journey. You could purchase these things a little at a time every month of your pregnancy to break up the cost.

I really hope this helped. Please chat with me about any aspect of cloth! I am happy and excited to talk about cloth day and night.

For the full rules of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, visit Dirty Diaper Laundry - Flats Challenge

I am linking up with Dirty Diaper Laundry for Day Two so head over there to check out other families stashes!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flats and Handwashing Challenge

Hi, I'm Bethany and I will be taking the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. This is my first time doing the challenge and my 8 month old son, affectionately called Little Hippie, will be participating with me!

We began using cloth diapers with him when he was 9 days old, however I fell in love with them before he was even born. I spent countless hours on the computer reading blogs like DDL to learn the ins and outs of using cloth in modern times with modern materials and machines. This week though, I'm taking it old school!

Flats are definitely a part of our normal cloth line up, but not exactly like the challenge! I decided just a few days before the challenge to jump in with both feet and participate in order to encourage lower-income families that there is a better option than disposables when you are on a very tight budget.

One box of about 100 of the lower-cost disposable diapers costs $20. If your baby is using the typical 8-10 diapers a day, this will only last 2 weeks at the most. $40 per month for diapers is just a lot of money to be throwing away, am I right? Higher-cost or Eco-friendly brands will be upwards of $60 per month. That's nearly $500 a year, or $1500 over a three year period (the time it took my oldest child to potty train). YIKES! I am sad to say he used disposables because I knew nothing about cloth when I became a mom at 19 years old.

The unfortunate truth is that there is a diaper need in the United States. Babies in every state are going much longer than they should in a disposable diaper, or parents are even reusing disposables. This is unsanitary and uncomfortable to the babies, resulting oftentimes in infection and subsequent doctor visits and time off work. We want to eliminate all of that heartache and headache!! I understand that parents do what they have to to survive and make ends meet. This blog series is so far from judgmental, actually I say all of this with all the love in my heart! I want to see you succeed and to have happy, healthy, hygienic babies.

It is possible to use cloth if you DON'T have a washing machine. It is possible to use cloth if you CAN'T spend $20 on a name brand All-in-One diaper. It is possible to use cloth if you WON'T buy a box of Tide or equally pricey and less effective "cloth specific" detergent.

I am going to pledge that for 1 week, from May 16-22, 2016, I will use ONLY flats and covers on my baby and I will NOT use a washing machine or dryer for the cloth. Pinky promise! No cheating, not even for trips out or special events!

For the official rules and Sign-Up page head over to Dirty Diaper Laundry - Flats Challenge.

For Day One's link-up and a personal story written by one of the participants, check out Day One.