7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge Survey Results

It's been four months since the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge took place! FOUR. Where has the time gone? Time flies when you're raising babies! I intended to publish the results from the final survey months ago, but life totally got in the way. Between birthdays, spending summer with my oldest before dropping him off for his first day of Kindergarten and other big things coming my way (more on that in a later post), I've been a bit busy!

But I've finally found the time to tally up the results for you! If you're new to the Flats and Handwashing Challenge and would like to learn more, check out this post explaining things in detail.

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival


Almost 200 of you signed up for this year's Challenge! I was so encouraged as this was my first year hosting. Following the footsteps of Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry was an honor and I love how you all kept the spirit of the Challenge alive this year! For a week we stuck together proving that using a minimal stash of flat diapers was possible. And not just that, but hand washing our diapers as well! You did it and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this community! 

Of the 198 families that signed up to take the Challenge, 138 of you filled out the final survey, giving me your feedback. That's about 70% of those that signed up. The data provided on the grapics below is complied from those 138 families. Thank you to those of you that participated and provided feedback! 

Check out the infographics below for detailed results from survey participants. To view the text larger, click on the graphic to enlarge it. 

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Is using flat diapers and handwashing them a viable option for families? 

82% of you said YES! While another 18% said yes, with modifications! 

Here's some feedback from this year's participants:

"Once I figured out simple but huge time savers, it became a piece of cake to incorporate into daily routine, even with two in cloth. Preparedness is key, and it only took less than a day to figure out what worked and what didn't, so it became easy FAST...which was surprising to me. I really expected more of a struggle to learn to use flats but in less than a day I felt like a champion. " - Pamela J. 

"I came in to this challenge nervous that I would succeed, but I did it!! Yes there was minimal labor for the washing but it was easy! It was truly eye opening to see how much water and soap I was saving. Being a family on a strict budget and water usage this was a great option! I believe this would work for so many families on many different levels. I loved my flats before the challenge but now even more. So much that we will be switching to full time use of flats and hand washing as much as possible." - Michelle S. 

"I enjoyed learning about flats more. They are definitely something that I will be adding to my stash. I now prefer them over prefolds, because I can fold specifically for my child. I was very scared of them before, thinking that they were waaay too much work, but in the end I enjoyed using them. I did not enjoy hand washing as much, but I am grateful to know that if I needed to hand-wash I could in a pinch." - Christine K. 

Thank you for following along with this year's Challenge! If you missed the Challenge or were unable to participate this year, we'd love to have you join us in 2018 for the 8th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! 

If flats and/or hand washing is something you are interested in learning more about, please join our Facebook group


Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 7: What Did I Learn? How Did It Go? #flatschallenge

The last day of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge is here! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is to share about your experience. What did you learn? How did it go? Do you think this is a feasible option for families experiencing diaper need? Did you find a new love for flats or handwashing? 

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

As I've shared before, this is my second time taking part in the Challenge, with a 5 year gap between Challenges for me. My experiences have been pretty similar. I used flats basically the same way with both Challenges and choose the same handwashing method. I will say that it was a little more complicated this time around having two kids and juggling everything that is involved with that. My second baby is also a lot more work than my first! He's very busy! So spraying out diapers, keeping him out of the bathroom, etc. is a chore! 

The one thing I love about this Challenge is that it reminds me how much I love flat cloth diapers! They are so easy to use (much easier than it seems!) and very inexpensive! While I love my AIOs, flat cloth diapers are easily one of my favorite ways to diaper my babies! It doesn't even have to be complicated. A simple pad fold is easy and sufficient! 

And while handwashing IS more work, it's not that hard and it doesn't take too long. At the end of the day, I have a lot to do. The hours between 5 and 8 pm are easily the busiest of my day. Between cooking dinner, getting everyone fed, bathed and in bed and then tidying up the house, cleaning up dinner, washing bottles,etc. it's a lot! I'm not going to lie! By the time my oldest is in bed at 8 I'm ready to crash. So adding handwashing a load of diapers to that list is not desirable, but it is doable. It doesn't take very long, 30 minutes TOPS! And in a situation where that is my only option because I don't have access to a washing machine or I can't afford to buy disposable diapers, it can work! 

I really hope that you had a positive experience with the Challenge this year! I hope you gained some experience that will help you share with others and possibly help a family in need. There will be a survey emailed to all participants in the coming weeks. Grab the image at the top of this post and share that you survived! 

If you didn't participate and just followed along, I hope you we were able to show you that this really does work! 

If you are a family struggling to provide diapers for your baby, please know that there are options out there. I encourage you to reach out to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope. Read through blog posts about flat diapers. A whole stash can be purchased for $50 or less or you can easily DIY them for free using materials around the house. There are options!


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 6: What's Working For Me & What's Not! #flatschallenge

It's the last two days of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is to share what's working for you and what's not working. If this is your first Challenge, you may be surprised by how easy (or maybe hard!) this is. Maybe you've had to change things up half way through the Challenge. Share your expectations vs. your reality!

Let's start with what's not working for me!

Fancy folds! I love the idea of fancy flat folds. Happy Anteater is my favorite! But in reality, I have a busy 10 month old. Changing his diaper is a nightmare. He does not sit still long enough for a diaper change and if you try to hold him down he acts like you are torturing him. So I need to be fast! So the best I can do for most diaper changes is a pad fold. I am using Happy Anteater for our nighttime diaper, but that's the only time I attempt anything fancy. 

And here's what's working...

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Nighttime diapers - For nights, we're successfully using two birdseye cotton flats. No doublers, no expensive hemp flats. Just plain old cotton! I use one flat folded with the Happy Anteater fold and then secured with a Snappi. Then I place a pad folded flat in a cover or with a wool cover and use that over the first flat. It works!

Handwashing Once a Day - The firs time I did this Challenge I was handwashing twice a day, once at naptime and once at night. Smaller loads are nice! But with two kids and a baby that isn't a great napper, I didn't know that I could commit to washing twice a day. So I stuck with washing after my baby was in bed. He's a terrible napper which means he goes to bed early (6 pm). So I wash the day's worth of diapers right after he's in bed and get them on line ASAP. As long as I get them on the line quick (and don't wait) I can usually take advantage of enough heat/sun to get them dry by the time it's dark. There was one day that I did wash in the morning and at night, but every other day seemed to work out fine just washing once. 

For the most part, things are going as expected here! What about you?


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 5: Open Topic #flatschallenge

It's Day 5 of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is open! You are free to share anything you want about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. A few years ago, my husband wrote a post about his perspective. Have a great DIY? Share that! It's totally up to you! I can't wait to see what everyone shares today!

On a side note, Samuel graduated from his cranial remolding helmet this week! It was a stinky, sweaty three months, but we're so glad to say goodbye to his helmet! How adorable does he look in a flat and no helmet? I love being able to kiss on his sweet head now!

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

There are almost 200 families all over the world taking part in the Flats Challenge, some of them have been doing this all 7 years! I love to hear the discussions about how these mamas are changing things up year to year to really challenge themselves. From not using a diaper sprayer, to only using a stash that costs less than $25. Ya'll inspire me! I love your passion! 

So today, I'm going to share some of the posts that have been shared on social media. There's so many great posts out there that there's no way I could highlight them all. You can see more on Instagram. 

A post shared by SAM (@s.a.m.5.24.9) on

A post shared by Shannon Xenos (@simplexity85) on

Day 2 of the #flatschallenge is what's in your stash? Our full time stash is flats anyways so I'll name our stash. We have 18 GMD muslin flats, 24 GMD birdseye flats and 6 bamboo flats. We als9 have about a dozen flannel receiving blankets we've collected and used as flats over tge years. For wipes we use 48 osocozy cloth wipes and spray with kisslauvs diaper lotion potion. Covers include 9 thirties duo wrap, 5 flips, 2 Bummis pull ons, and a Disana wool cover. This may sound like a lot but, we use flats for all kinds of other things (especially the muslins) like for a baby towel, underpaid in changing table, Nursing cover, blankie, and the list goes on. We are to put the cost in this post. This stash was right around 300 dollars but I have way more than I need. Plus, this was purchased over a long period of time and half of the items are currently being used in the 2nd baby! #mygmdbaby #flatsforthewin #bringflatsback
A post shared by Emily Griffie (@griffie.emily) on

Follow these mamas on Instagram and be sure to tag all of your posts with the #flatschallenge hashtag.

Bloggers, link up below!


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 4: Handwashing Flat Diapers #flatschallenge

It's Day 4 of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is to share your wash routine. The easy part of the Challenge is actually using flat diapers. But washing them with no machine is the harder part. Participants are not allowed to use their electric washer and dryer and instead must handwash their diapers. 

To me, the hardest part about handwashing is talking yourself into doing it at the end of a long day. It's best to handwash daily because the more diapers you have to wash, the more of a chore it is! Here's what's working for me to get my diapers clean this week. 

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Diaper Storage
I'm storing my diapers in a diaper pail with no liner or wet bag. It's just easiest to be able to rinse out my pail at the end of the day and not have one more thing to wash. As far as the actual pail goes, it's just a small kitchen trash can from Walmart. Nothing fancy here!


I'm choosing to handwash my cloth diapers once or twice a day. I like the idea of washing once, but some days my baby uses more diapers than others and my timing works out that I'm able to wash in the morning and in the evening. I'm using my sink to physically handwash my diapers. In the past I've used the bath tub, but the sink is easier on my back. 

One key feature for me is being able to use my diaper sprayer. Many people are taking the Challenge without using one, but for me it really helps. I'm able to spray out all diapers before throwing them in the pail which helps cut down on some of the hand rinsing and helps me to get them clean. 

Step 1 - Rinse
I run warm/hot water (warm enough to get them rinsed well, but not so hot that my hands can't stand the heat). Each flat is individually unfolded and rinsed/wrung out under the faucet. 

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

Step 2 - Wash
I fill my sink with the warm/hot water and add a splash of detergent. I have found that I don't need a ton of detergent to get 5-6 diapers clean in a small sink full of water. In fact, using too much detergent can be such a handful when handwashing because it takes so many rinses to get the soap out. I'm using my regular detergent, I believe it's Arm and Hammer. 

I put all of my flats (5-6 max), my covers (2-3) and any cloth wipes I have used in the sink. Using both hands I massaged and squeeze the pile of laundry quite a few times. Then I work individually on each item, squeezing, scrubbing together, working the water in and out of the item. Once I have done this with each item, I squeeze out all of the water and drain the sink.

Step 3 - Rinse
I turn my faucet on with warm/hot water and individually rinse out each item, wringing and squeezing out any soapy water that's left. 

Step 4 - Wringing
Individually, I squeeze and wring out as much of the water as I can by hand. This can take a little muscle and is a great workout!

Step 5 - Drying
Line drying outside is my absolute favorite way to dry flat cloth diapers. It's fast and diapers look so pretty on a line! Plus the sun is awesome gor getting out any stains that may be left behind. I use a retractable clothesline (affiliate link) in my backyard for outside drying. On rainy days or days that I wasn't able to handwash until nighttime, I use my indoor drying rack from Ikea. It's large and folds up so nicely. Definitely a great investment!

I individually snap the water out of each flat. You'd be surprised how much water is left in them even after wringing them out by hand. After snapping, I pin them to the line.

On a bright, sunny day, my flats can be dry in less than an hour! If I wait until later in the day when the sun is going down and there's more shade they take a few more hours. Inside drying takes longer, but they are always dry by the morning. 

Overall, the whole process takes 30 minutes or less for one load. It's totally doable and a great option for anyone that doesn't have access to a washing machine. Sure, it's work and it's one more thing on your to-do list, but if it's the only way you can make diapering your baby work, it's a feasible option. 

This is just one way to handwash your diapers! Some families are using a camp style washer, a wash board, and more! Check out the #flatschallenge hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to see what's working for other families and be sure to hop around on the links below.


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 3: Favorite folds for flats!

Welcome to Day 3 of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is to share your favorite flat fold! What folds are working for you in the Challenge?

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

But first a little update on how the Challenge is going for us! We're 3 days in and it's really a breeze. I mean of course it's not as simple as my normal cloth diapering routine, but the only reason I say that is the handwashing. It's much easier to throw a load of diapers in the washing machine every few days than it is to handwash daily. But more on the washing part tomorrow! The flats themselves are so easy to use and absorbent. It's really one of our favorite ways to cloth diaper, Challenge or not!

Now to this week's topic, flat folds! I'm a huge fan of fun and fancy flat folds. I love searching YouTube for new folds and practicing them. A little origami with cloth diapers! It's fun! One of my absolute favorite folds for flat cloth diapers is the Happy Anteater. It's a twist on the origami fold and really just one extra step. Text instructions here.

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

But to be totally honestly, getting a fancy fold on my wiggly, mobile 10 month old is a hard task. This baby does not have time for diaper changes! I need to be quick or we will both end up frustrated. So for the most part I'm defaulting to a pad fold. It's not ideal because it means I have to use more covers throughout the day when he poops, but you do what works! Text instructions for the pad fold can be found here.

How are you using your flats? What's your favorite fold? If you need some ideas, you can find more flat cloth diaper folds here.


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 2: What's In Your Flats Stash? How Much Did It Cost? #flatschallenge

Welcome to Day 2 of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is What's in your flats stash and how much did it cost? Participants were able to use commercially purchased flat diapers or flour sack towels, homemade flats, basically any material that is made with a single layer of fabric. In addition to flats, they can use diaper covers, diaper closures (Snappis, pins, etc), and a doubler if necessary. 

While I've added quite a few new diapers to my stash since our second baby arrived 10 months ago, flats was not one of them! For the Challenge, I'm using the same flats that I have from my first born. I have been so tempted to add some new flats to my stash, but if I'm totally honest, I have plenty of flats as it is.

The links below are affiliate links.

6 Blueberry flats $16 (discontinued) 
These are the old printed Blueberry flats and my absolute favorite! These are now discontinued and I've wondered about the new gauze flats from Bluberry but haven't tried them. 

12 Osocozy flats $23
These are great basic flats. There's nothing really special about them. They are a bit smaller than the Blueberry flats. 

1 Imagine Wool Cover $30
This is what's getting us through nights! 

3 Various PUL Diaper Covers $42 (about $14 each for 3 covers)

I have a lot of covers in my regular cloth diapers stash. I don't anticipate that I'll need to use them all for the Challenge, especially since I can get multiple uses out of each one. I think I could definitely get away with 2-3 covers for the whole Challenge. My favorite brands for covers are Bambino Mio, Thirsties, and Rumparooz

2 Snappis $10 (3-pack)
I have 2 Snappis but I've mostly been padfolding, so I'm not sure that I'll end up using them. When your baby won't lay still for a diaper change, you do what works! 

Since I'll be handwashing daily, I won't need all 18 flats. My thought is that I'll need about 8 a day, plus the 2-3 PUL covers and the wool cover at night. Honestly, I could probably get away with not using the wool cover if I was building an emergency stash for someone, but I have it, so I'll use it. 

Actual cost of my stash $111

Bare minimum of my stash $65
This is my number for a dozen flats and 3 diaper covers. I think this number is totally doable! And I know many of you are doing it on much less! Be sure to share what's in your stash today using the #flatschallenge hashtag on social media. Bloggers, link up below!


7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Day 1: Why Are You Taking The Challenge? #flatschallenge

Welcome to Day 1 of the 7th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! If you're new to the Challenge, please read more about what's going on this week as families all over the world will be diapering their babies with flat diapers and handwashing for a whole week. Today's topic is Why? Why would anyone choose to use old school flat diapers when things like all-in-ones and pockets are available? Why would we subject ourselves to handwashing our diapers when we have perfectly good electric washing machines that can do that job for us?

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival

This is my second year taking the Challenge. My first experience was back in 2012 with my first born. I was a mama to one and very passionate about cloth diapering. While I loved my AIOs, I loved the idea of learning about flat diapers. So I thought that Flats and Handwashing Challenge was the perfect opportunity to test myself! Could I master flat folds and handwashing? Well I did and I loved it! It can sound so overwhelming, but I learned that it's much easier than you think.

After my son potty trained and we had a large gap between baby #1 and #2, I've been away from using cloth diapers and flats. But I held onto my stash and I'm happy to be participating this year. I'm also completely honored to be hosting the Challenge this year.

Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry started the Challenge 7 years ago as a way to raise awareness about diaper need. Did you know that 1 in 3 families struggles to afford diapers for their baby? Often they must choose between diapers or other necessities. And while cloth diapers are reusable and a great solution for these families, the start up cost of modern cloth diapering can be a hinderence to these families as well.

But a small stack of flat diapers are inexpensive and can even be DIYed for free using old t-shirts or other materials. Access to a washing machine may not be easily available for these families, but handwashing flat diapers is quick and easy. Flat diapers dry quickly due to their single layer, allowing for a smaller stash needed.

The older I get, the more aware I've become of my community and the people around me. Not everyone has the luxuries of life that I have or the ability to provide for their children so freely. I don't want anyone to think they aren't doing enough for their kids. My heart aches thinking of the mom that cries because she can barely make ends meet, if she can make them meet at all.

Flats Challenge Cloth Diaper Revival
So this week, I'm thankful for you all joining me to help raise awareness about diaper need and to show that we can make this work! You can take this knowledge that you will gain this week and help someone in need one day.

If you're not taking part in the Challenge and just following along, I urge you, if you are able to help families in need. You can donate new and gently used cloth diapers to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope and help provide diapers for a family that is in a tough spot. No parent should have to worry about wrapping her baby in clean diaperes each day. Can you help?

This is just my thoughts on the Flats and Handwashing Challenge! Why are you taking the Challenge? Bloggers, link up your thoughts on Day 1 below and don't forget to tag your posts with #flatschallenge.

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