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Last year the people over at Dirty Diaper Laundry started this challenge because of some disturbing news stories about people not being able to afford to buy diapers, and reusing disposables instead. As a lot of people know once you have the cloth diapers, you sure do save a lot of money on monthly diaper expenses.

For us to diaper both kids in the disposables they are not allergic to, it would cost us upwards of $60 a month. If you are using cheaper diapers for two kids you are looking at about $30 a month. That can add up fast. Especially for a family struggling to make ends meet.

There are no government programs to assist families with diaper expenses like there is for food and medical assistance.

A few problems come up with people in the low-income brackets and cloth diapers.

1. Cloth diapers are a notoriously expensive investment

2. A lot of people do not have a washer and dryer in their home, making cloth diapering very difficult


The diaper investment for cloth diapers can be very high. There are cloth diapers that cost upwards of $40 each. I would say the average cost of an AIO/AI2 diaper is about $12 each. I usually recommend having at least two days worth of diapers so that you are not doing laundry every single day. My toddler who is on her way to potty training soon goes through about 6 diapers a day, my son who is almost five weeks old goes through about 15 diapers a day. So the initial investment to diaper both of them, and do laundry every two days with standard diapers at normal cost would be about $504.

Flats with covers are a much more affordable option. There are ways to make flats for little or no money. You can use flannel receiving blankets that you got for your baby shower and never used, you can cut up old T-shirts (from your closet, or goodwill) and use those as flats, you can use flour sacks from Target or Wal-Mart, and you can buy flats.

I am using diaper covers with the flats. You can use rubber pants that they sell at Wal-Mart or Babies R Us but they seem so uncomfortable. We already have covers for the kids so we will just use those. Some of our covers I bought, some are hand-me-downs or borrowed from friends (the newborn covers). Covers are not cheap BUT you can find them on sale almost constantly, you can find them on craigs list and e-bay for $3-5 a cover. It is possible to find them and have them be affordable. Also, as long as they are not poopy,  you can re-use them. You don’t need a new cover every single diaper change. We usually switch between 2 all day.

What flats am I using? So far I bought a 10 pack of Gerber flats from Target for $ . They have bad reviews on-line, and honestly I am not impressed by the price, but they are the most accessible at stores so I figured I should try them. I have 5 flannel receiving blankets we will be using as pre-folds. I also got 12 osocozy flats for $16. I am going to go through my husbands closet and commandere some of his old T-shirts for diapering goodness too. I ordered 2 sets of 4 cloth diaper pins on Amazon (because I am a slacker and waited until the last-minute) for $5.98 with free prime shipping.  Overall I did not spend over $35 for flats, which I think is a pretty decent investment.

The other part of this challenge is the hand washing. Most people who are so financially tight that they have to re-use disposable diapers are also living somewhere without a washer and dryer. There is nothing worse than having to take your child to the laundry mat every other day to wash diapers. I can only imagine how stressful that would be with my toddler and new-born! That is not even mentioning all the detergent build up you would have from all the different stuff used in washers. Yuck. So we hand wash these flats, but can use a camp washer of sorts, that costs under $100 and is powered by our own muscle, no mechanics.

I am using a camp washer involving a 5 gallon paint bucket, a drill, and a plunger to do the washing. More to come later.


Here are the rules for the challenge:


Materials Allowed


The following diapering items can be used:

  • Any flat cloth diaper, store bought or handmade.  A flat should be only 1 layer of material for easier handwashing and faster drying.
  • 1 night time diaper per night of your choice although you are asked to make flats work for you (this diaper must also be handwashed)
  • Doublers (not inserts meant to be absorbent enough to stand alone) if you absolutely must.
  • A diaper sprayer.
  • Wet bags/diaper pails for storage.
  • Handmade “washing machine” for diapers such as the camp style washer I made last year.
  • Non Electronic Portable washing machines (must be powered by you and cost less than $100.
  • Commercially available or handmade covers.
  • Commercially available or handmade detergents.
  • Snappi, Boingo, and Pins for closure.
  • Pocket diapers STUFFED WITH FLATS. (note that the potential for repelling on the stay dry lining could make your challenge harder but you can see what happens)
  • Homemade or store bought fleece liners.
  • Iron (to use in order to expedite drying time or sterilize)

Materials Not Allowed

  • Electronic washer/dryer.
  • Pockets with inserts other than flats, AIO’s, Fitteds, Contours, Prefolds, AI2’s, etc.
  • Flushable liners.

Rules for Everyone

  • You cannot use your washer or dryer.
  • If for some reason something arises and an exception is made you need to disclose in the Conclusions Survey or on your blog if you are a blogger.
  • There is no limit on the number of flats or covers you can use.  Should you purchase 100 flats for $100 and go a whole week without washing?  No.  Use your common sense on this one.  As a tip the more diapers in your camp washer/ sink/ tub the harder the washing will be.  

Rules for Bloggers

  • You cannot be sponsored by received free flats or covers to use.  Bloggers will see a link to the rules in the form of a .pdf after signing up within the sign up application.

Other blogs in this series:

Day 1: Why am I Taking the Challenge and What did she say? Diaper oragami

Day 2: My Flats Swag: What I am using for the challenge

Day 3: How Do You Use Your Flats? Diaries of a new-born and a chubby toddler

Day 4: How I am doing: My thoughts on handwashing

Day 5: Handy Dandy Diapering Tips

Day 6: Flats with a Toddler v.s Newborn. A comparative analysis.

Day 7: What I Learned During the Flats Challenge

Are you up for the challenge? There is still time to SIGN UP.

Now I just need to prep these and figure out how the hell to fold them. Wish me luck and follow daily starting Monday to see how we do.

This blog shared on Wild Crafting Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Simple Living Wednesday, Healthy2day Wednesday



About Amanda

Amanda is a mother of two amazing toddlers. She is an herbalist, natural living guru, and real food, gluten free eating pro. She loves to help educate others on how to take control of their own health through natural living, real food, herbs, essential oils, and most of all - a positive mind set. Her other business Natural Herbal Living Magazine is all about helping people learn about how to use one herb a month on a deep and profound level.
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3 Responses to Lets do this! 2nd Annual Flats and Hand Washing Challenge.

  1. Caitlin says:

    Good luck! Seems like it should be a fun challenge. Although, now I’m wondering why I think hand washing flat diapers is fun…Oh motherhood. 😉

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