Smashing Watermelons During the Flats Handwashing Challenge

Guest post by Samantha H.

“Why should my washer get all the smelly goodness of my scented Rockin’ Green?!”

Ok, so that wasn’t the FIRST thing that popped into my head when I decided to take the Flats and Hand washing Challenge this week. Although when I contemplated the hand washing part, I most certainly smiled while thinking of getting to enjoy the wonderful Smashing Watermelons Scent I just bought a week ago.

So on to the logistics, if you hadn’t heard yet. The Flats and Hand washing challenge was started by Dirty Diaper Laundry in an effort to show that no matter your financial situation, even the simplest form of cloth diapering can be cheap and easy. The hand washing part takes into account the low income [income isn’t always the reason] families without easily accessible laundry facilities or those who can’t afford the extra money for the laundromat.

I will mention here that at one time I was exclusively using flats, and I stocked up when there was a great sale locally. They are so easy, can be folded so many ways and are FAST to wash and dry. But I’d never washed them by hand before.

My tools for the week: a stack of flats (some white, some I dyed), 5 covers (3 econobum, 1 Rumparooz, 1 fleece), Snappi, Rockin green hard rock, peri bottle and two hemp doublers for nighttime.

Besides the ease and price of flats, they are also VERY trim! So if you had to size up or constantly find certain pants to fit on your fluffy bum baby with other cloth diapering options, you likely wont have that problem with flats! Of course if you double flats or include a doubler for heavy wetters it will make them a bit bulkier, but in most cases they will be just as trim as a disposable diaper.

I mention this because not everyone can afford to keep sizing up in baby pants just so they will fit over their diaper. They will be able to wear them longer and no more ‘these pants fit with this diaper’ scenarios. Although in the summer months, I let my daughter run around in her diaper and either a dress or cute shirt.

Onto the washing routine. I turned to my trusty Rockin’ Green Hard Rock in the oh-so-delicious Smashing Watermelons!

My supplies are as follows:

  • Large Stock pot (only used for prepping or soaking diapers)
  • Stirring utensil
  • Gloves

I started by filling one side of my kitchen sink half full of cold water and boiled a pot of water on the stove. While the water was heating up, I put all the flats into the sink to give them a pre-rinse. Swish swish swish. I didn’t need the gloves as my daughter only had one poopy diaper in 2 days (lucky me!), and it was well rinsed with my peri bottle (thank you hospital!) at the diaper change. I drained the sink and wrung out the diapers.

Next step- add flats back into now empty sink and add hot water from the pot. I also ran some cold water just to cool it down a bit. I started with just over 1/2 a tablespoon of Rockin’ Green. Since it was still to hot to touch, I used a silicone spatula to give it a few swishes and make sure the detergent was well mixed in.

Then let them soak! After about 20 minutes I added the covers in and gave it a few more swishes. Of course this is where my daughter woke from her nap, so everything got a decent soak while I got her up and changed. Ok a LLLOOOOONNNG soak until daddy woke up.

When he got up I left her with him to play and I continued on with my flats! I dug in and gave them a final 5-10 minute agitation for good measure and especially on the one poopy flat. I pulled the plug drained the sink and ran cold water for the rinse. I used my kitchen sprayer and sprayed each flat and cover well and wrung them out until I could ‘feel’ the clean. I threw them into the laundry basket and onto the clothesline they went.

Now this whole process should’ve taken me all of 45 min to an hour but due to a tiny person needing me, it took much longer. Good news is flats dry incredibly fast, which I LOVE. They smell clean, look clean and haven’t had any redness issues – so I can only assume they are cleaned and rinsed well. Honestly I had a vision of being hunched over the tub with yucky water and scrubbing the flats against a washboard. It was luckily nothing like that and was pretty relaxing and satisfying.

All in all, I LOVED the flats challenge. I will have to admit I’m happy to go back to my fitteds and washing machine, but I also have a better sense of reality in the thought that if I ever HAVE to rely on flats and hand washing, that I can do it and do it well!

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

7 Responses to “Smashing Watermelons During the Flats Handwashing Challenge”

  1. shawna Says:

    I used disposables for my first daughter 10 yrs ago and never would have considered it for my second daughter, now almost a year old, until I saw a friend use a cloth diaper (pocket type for her daugher). I was amazed. They have changed so much. I wanted a diaper that I could use overseas. We live in Asia and the diapers are not that good a quality and expensive. At the recommendation of my local cloth diaper store in America, I bought the Weehuggers, prefolds and thirsties inserts, along with gro via liners. They work great. I handwash them in a bucket of boiling water because the electricity is not always on and also very expensive. I hang them to dry in the sun and it has worked well. The gro via clogs the plumbing, so I have to throw the diaper liners in the trash. Luckily I brought a bunch of cheap scented diaper trash bags. Also the gro via liners can be rinsed and reused about 2-3 times if the baby has only done a pee. I make my own detergent. 1 Fells Naptha bar of soap (grated with a cheese grater), 2 cups washing soda, and 2 cups of borax. I grind it all together in a food processor and store in an airtight tub. Then I use a tablespoon of the powder for my bucket or 1/4 cup can be used in washing machine. It doesn’t take much and works really well.


  2. Jennifer Says:

    Kudos to you for washing diapers by hand! That’s what my mom used to do for me growing up because we didn’t have washer machines back in China when I was growing up. Now we’re using prefolds and cut-up old t-shirts for our baby boy, the t-shirts work surprisingly well! We definitely save money with cloth diapers, for a in-depth analysis, feel free to check out my post on saving money with cloth diapers:


  3. tara Says:

    I so wish I had saved my peri-bottle! I in’t sign up in time for the flats challenge (because I am a space cadet) but I did use my flats and prefolds in support for you guys. I think it was an awesome project and I really enjoyed going back to my roots. I actually felt excited when it was diaper change time! I hope Kim does it again, maybe like an annual thing.


  4. Cindi Says:

    Flats? That’s what they call them now? 30 + years ago when I used them on Autumn and her brother, who are 11 months apart in age, they were simply called diapers and I used the diaper pins and plastic pants. I suppose I was pampered :) (no pun intended) because I had a diaper service. We didn’t own a washer and dryer, I visited the laundry mat once a week. With many great advances in cloth diapers and so many choices, I’d have to say that have “flats” in your diaper stash would still be a smart decision simply b/c they are great go to or for backup if you should need them and so many uses around the house after your babes are out of diapers.
    Autumn’s great grandmother, Ruby, did indeed wash all of her cloth diapers by hand for at least five of her six children, which included a set of twins. She used the large washtub out in the backyard and hung to dry.


  5. Heather Says:

    I wonder if you can do the same thing with pocket diapers/inserts. I know my hubby would freak if he saw me cleaning diapers in the sink, but I might have to give it a try. I already hang my diapers on my pool fence for all to see! Hahaha!


  6. Cassondra Says:

    i totally feel you! i have been washing ALL my sons diapers in the kitchen sink because of the moldy summer. i do NOT want to ruin diapers that are sitting for a few days with mold so I resorted into hand washing each morning (there has been a few nights tossed in). But I used Mighty Marshmallows. I had samples of that and I have Rage Against The Raspberry in the 45/90 bag that will be used starting friday! =]


  7. judi Says:

    I didn’t sign up for the challenge because, quite frankly, I just plain didn’t have the money to go out and buy flats. I did , however experiment with using some of the flats I have (I have about 6) on my 2 yr. old. I didn’t have any success with the folds I found online. The origami fold ended up creating a diaper that was too small and the kite fold was so complicated I never did figure out how to do it. The only method that looked like it would remotely work with my flats was the method that turns the flat into a prefold type diaper. I think my flats are too small or I’m just defective, lol! Anyway, I would really like to figure this out so I can share it with people if it’s ever needed but so far I’m not doing very well. Thankfully, I have my wonderful pocket fitteds that I made from some Birdseye I bought on a yahoo group. They’re not fancy but they were pretty cheap and they do the job.


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