Flat Diapers Flats Flats Challenge

Day 6 of the #flatschallenge – My Wash Routine


I’ve been using the utility sink in my laundry room to wash flats, covers, liners & wipes. It’s conveniently right off the kitchen, and since no one prepares food or bathes in it, I don’t have to disinfect it every time.

If you’re just “tuning in;” I’m participating in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. All this week I’ll be using flats and handwashing them. Learn more about the challenge.

After I change a diaper, I unfold it, and toss it in the sink, add water and swish it around a little with the spoon I’ve assigned to this glamorous task. Of course, you need to be very aware if you leave water anywhere, since even an inch of water can be a drowning hazard to small children. I feel safer with water in the sink vs a bath tub or bucket, but it’s still a potential hazard.

If I have a poopy diaper, I use the sink sprayer (on warm) to rinse the wipe, cover and diaper. Though I use the spoon for swishing, I find that my hands are the most useful tool. I’m not afraid of bodily fluids or a little poop. I know some people are freaked out about potentially touching poop (and yes, you can cloth diaper without touching poop) but I have plenty of soap and water, so I’m not scared. Anyhoo, for a dirty diaper I will rinse off the bulk of the poop before I unfold the flat, then I use my hands and rub the diaper against itself under the spray to remove as much as I can, then let it soak.

When I have a few diapers and I’m ready to wash, I drain the water & replace it with fresh water, swish, rub the diapers against themselves and each other, then drain. If the water seemed pretty dirty, I might repeat this.

Next I’m ready to actually wash. I wanted to make sure I used a clean rinsing detergent, and I had a bottle of liquid soap nuts. The instructions say to use 1/4 cap full for hand washing, and while I didn’t actually measure, I probably dumped in closer to a whole cap full. After squeezing water out of the diapers (I didn’t wring, I just pressed them against the side of the sink) I plugged the sink, turned the water on hot, then added the detergent. I let a little water fill the sink and dilute the detergent, before sliding the diapers over to the middle of the sink again.

I agitated the diapers with the spoon a bit, but then I just reached in and used my hands to swish the diapers around, squeeze the water into them (like how I’d wash wool), rub them against themselves and each other and so forth. It’s funny how unplanned this all was, considering how obsessive I usually am. I didn’t use a timer either. I found this part to be my favorite. It was pretty relaxing actually!

Next, I drained the water, squeezed the diapers, and added clean warm water. I didn’t use a ton of water, just enough to cover the diapers, and a little extra. Again I agitated the diapers, squeezed them, swished them with the spoon, then my hands. Drain, squeeeze…

I don’t necessarily think you have to do this, but next I just rinsed each diaper, wipe and liner under the water individually. I’m sure some will think this is gross, but to see if I’d gotten the diapers clean, I grabbed one of the night time flats and sniffed it. If it smelled clean and not like pee or soap nuts, I figured I had done a good job.

For good measure, I did one more quick rinse before squeezing and wringing each item. This was the toughest part, making my hands and arms sore!

At the beginning of the flats challenge, it was raining and I had to hang the diapers in the laundry room. When I hung them overnight, they were dry in the morning (my laundry room has an exhaust fan, so I just left that on.) If they were bunched up at all, those areas took longer to dry, so it was another incentive to wash often so I had room to spread them out. They dried in a few hours outside on the clothes line, though the Orange Diaper Co. bamboo terry flat was slowest to dry. I took it off and turned it around at one point since the sun was only hitting one side of the clothesline.

I brought everything in, pad folded the flats and stacked them up, stuffed the night time flats in pockets, and put wipes away. I haven’t had any issues with the pockets, but I paid extra attention to them, really rubbing the inners against themselves to get them clean. It wasn’t bad to wash two per day, but I really don’t think I’d want to use all pockets & hand wash them.

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Karen
    January 24, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I have a diaper question (problem) I don’t know if my answer is: I need to STRIP my cds?

    So here is my question:
    I have some (homemade-from someone I don’t know who-there wasn’t a label on them) pocket CDs. I purchased them from someone on Craigslist in my area. They were working fine until recently.
    I stopped using them because after my baby wets her diaper-I notice the cloth diaper AND her clothes are wet.
    Why is that? It’s like the PLU or whatever is not working.
    I use ECOS laundry detergent from Costco. I soak for 30 minutes and then I dry them in my dyer along with the inserts.
    I don’t use fabric softener but there might be some residual from the last load I had done (each time).
    Thank you

    • January 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Karen! Are the inserts SOAKED when you take the diapers off? How often are you changing them? If they are soaked, you might want to change more often, or try a hemp insert. If they aren’t soaked, is there any gap at her legs? Sometimes as a baby grows their shape changes and you need to fit the diaper a bit differently. Lastly, it is possible that you might need to strip if the inserts aren’t soaking wet, but her clothes are. I assume you soak the diapers, then follow up with a full wash, correct? Are the diapers stinky at all, either out of the wash, out of the dryer, or after “used?” Sometimes what people suggest for “stripping” makes things worse, so I always recommend beginning by just washing the (clean) diapers in hot water with no detergent. Check the water for suds or residue!

  • Kendall
    May 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    LOL about sniffing the diapers to see if they are clean. I do that too. However I’m also a mom that will stick my nose right up to my LO’s hiney to see if they’ve pooped and DH thinks I’m a little nuts.

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