First Reaction: "You mean to tell me that it's possible to still cloth diaper if you have no access to a washing machine?!?!"
Someone, spread the word! It is possible, and much easier than it seems!
To be honest, I dreaded it.
Folding, Covering, Rinsing, Washing, Hanging to dry. It all seemed like too much.
These days most cloth diapers consist of nothing more than snap and go! Throw it in a pail when dirty. The easy life. Before my recent traveling endeavors with my family, I never had any desire to try flats. I never understood why anyone would.
I now understand.
As I stated previously, my family has been traveling the past few weeks with my hubby for his job. We knew we would be without dependable washer and dryer access (only public laundromats, which I do not trust for my precious diaper stash), so we resorted to disposable/compostable/flushable diaper inserts w covers. Honestly it was undesirable. To put it mellodramatically, I felt as though I was failing my baby! Afterall, I wouldnt want to wear paper underwear, why should my sweet precious baby have to? I wanted that tiny little bottom back in natural cloth fibers!
I immediately set out on a mission to find the dreaded FLATS. I ended up getting a GREAT deal on a stash of 24 unbleached organic toddler sized flats prepped, but in new condition from a local mama. SCORE, just what I needed! I folded them nicely and put them away...waiting for that last pack of disposable inserts to be flushed away.
The other night was our first time back in cloth in weeks! What a relief to put those nice soft fluffy fibers back on him. The most remarkable thing about using Flats was how INCREDIBLY surprisingly EASY the entire process is!!
Not to mention, this method of cloth diapering is BY FAR the most Affordable way that one could possibly cloth diaper! Not much cash? No washer and dryer? Seriously, Flats are the way to go!
Let me break it down, just how simple it can be to Travel and keep your baby in cloth!
(*Keep in mind, this could also apply to those who live in Apartments and don't have regular access to dependable/affordable washing machines*)
First off, What is a Flat??: A flat cloth diaper is the old-school version of cloth diapers that your grandparents and great-grandparents etc etc probably used. They're a very thin, very large (for a diaper) square of birdseye/gauze cotton fabric that can be folded into a countless number of ways to fit just about any baby, any size, any age, any day. In a pinch, Flats also can be used (and often are used) as burp rags, baby blankets, changing pads, super soft and absorbent baby towels, and a variety of other baby necessities. Despite how incredibly thin they are, when folded the right way, they become one of the most absorbent diapers you'll ever use. Because of how thin they are, they are very thoroughly cleaned, and dry remarkably quick! Here is a picture that I borrowed from Green Mountain Diapers of a set of Flats (toddler size, infant size, and one folded) that look just like the ones I'm using:
Folding: Its really as simple as this: Fold it in half, fold that half in half, and then fold that half into thirds...lay it in a cover and use it as an insert! Super duper simple! For night, I prefer full coverage, so I do the "angel fold" with a Snappi. Also really simple, but looks complicated when I try to explain in writing, so I might dedicate a seperate post for that. But if you're dying to know, it's nothing Google can't handle ;-) Bottom line, the folding isnt a problem at all! It's actually kind of fun.. I feel all oldschool and connected with the generations of dedicated mothers who folded flats before me.
Covering: Amazingly, the flats have worked perfectly with every single cover I've used with them. No complaints on that end. So far I've used the flats with gDiaper covers, a Perfect Bum cover (new addition!), a ProRap cover (bought that one today at a resale shop, yay!), a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, a Flip cover, a Thirsties cover, a DiaperRap cover, a Best Bottoms shell, and GroVia shells, and not once have I experienced a problem with sizing, fitting, bulkiness or anything. Another major plus about flats is that they are SO perfect to custom size to your needs!
Handling Poop: Yes, I have a well-known secret that has made this 100% easier for me: flushable liners. I don't generally use them every time, because (AP high horse alert) I happen to be pretty aware of my son's poop schedule..and I do prefer to have the soft cotton against his skin. But let me tell you, those things are a GODSEND when it comes to being in a situation where you must wash your diapers by hand. I'm proud to say that so far, not once since using flats have my hands come in contact with poop! I just line his folded flats with a nice flushable liner before placing it in the cover.. and when he poops, I lift the thing out (liner and poop and all), and flush it away along with the flushable wipes I've been using for poopy diapers! So far, so good.
Washing By Hand: WAY easier than I ever could have imagined. I've started out washing them one-by-one, right after the diaper change, and its been working so well, I'm thinking my wetbags aren't going to be getting much use around here. Here's how I wash the diapers by hand:
-Rinse the wet diaper in the sink with cold water. I really am not even touching it at this point, its just sitting in the sink, with cold water running over it.
-When I'm convinced the "cooties" are gone, I unfold the flat in the water and start squeezing the diaper, and spreading it out, squeezing, and spreading...and repeat.
-Then I squeeze the excess water out of the diaper, as I'm turning the water on hot.
-Plug the sink, and as the sink fills up with hot water, I begin adding a pinch or two of cloth diaper-safe detergent.
-Add the diaper to the sink and start swishing and squeezing and spreading away! Just pretend that your hands are little washing machines, and enjoy the nice warm water on your hands (and of course, knowing that you're such a dedicated mommy, cleaning diapers old-school!)
-When my mommy clock goes off and I'm convinced the diapers are thoroughly clean, I drain the water from the sink and squeeze the water out of the diaper
-Run cold water into the sink again and start rinsing the diaper in the cold water, the same as the first cold water rinse, to wash away any detergent left on the diaper.
-Ring the diaper out as dry as possible
Hanging to Dry: Very simple. Use whats around you. Hang on the back of a chair (or if possible, on a clothesline, a shower curtain rod, a towel rod...you get the point..) So far, it's only taken about an hour or two to dry completely, so by the time I'm ready to hang up the next diaper, the previous one is ready to be folded and put away! My secret: I put it right next to the fan and a/c so it gets a little air action to help speed up the drying process.
And there you have it! A quick, simple, solution to cloth diapering "against the odds" of traveling or apartment life/no W&D!
When I first purchased these flats, I had it in my mind that I would exclusively use these for traveling. But after having such a positive experience, I now want to incorporate my flats into my diaper stash at home! There's something so rewarding about not only "making" your babies' diaper with one of the many fun folds, but also cleaning and drying it yourself, in a way that conserves water, energy and time, plus keeps baby chemical-free! I love reaching for that clean cotton diaper and putting it on my baby thinking, "I did this!"