6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge: Making it Work

Some of the biggest concerns I hear about cloth diapers are fears of difficulty using them and leaks. Flats are often the diaper type that makes people most apprehensive. At first glance they do seem complicated but they’re really very easy to use. I’ve used them periodically over the years but have tended to favor prefolds, after this week I think I may be grabbing for my flats much more often.

At the beginning of the week I thought I had significantly over prepared. I had 15 FST and at least as many tshirts to make into flats, I cut them into a front side and back side piece to hopefully speed up drying and make washing easier. Washing was definitely easier but the drying didn’t go very well in our cool and wet weather we had this week.

For daytime use at home, I used a single flat either pad folded or airplane folded. I’ve also become a big fan of using a tshirt flat in a fold that uses the sleeves as wings. If i need extra absorbency I just pad fold another flat as an insert. I usually fold everything ahead of time. My twins have decided they are big enough to take their own diapers off at changing time and tell me after the fact. Having all my diapers ready to grab and go has been a lifesaver many times.


When we go out, I use the airplane fold with a pad folded diaper as an extra insert. My guys tend to flood their diapers which isn’t a big deal at home but is less than fun in public. I toss a couple extra diapers, already folded and put in a cover, in the diaper bag for extras and I’m on my way.

Nighttimes were the time I was most apprehensive. Nobody likes waking up in a puddle of pee and with all the hand washing, I didn’t want to really add to my laundry load. For the flats challenge, we’re allowed to use any diapering solution we want but are asked to try to make flats work. My all flat solution is a doubled up FST in an airplane fold with a pad folded tshirt flat as a booster. I had a really hard time with getting my flats dry due to the cool weather and moisture so I ended up alternating nights with all flats or a prefold wrapped around a pad folded flat. I either used wool or fleece shorties over my overnight diapers to help protect against leaks. Nights have been much more successful than I originally thought and a small part of me is considering destashing my overnight fitteds in order to switch to flats.


I’ve been pleasantly surprised this week. Using flats hasn’t been significantly more difficult than any other diaper I’ve tried. It’s actually been rather enjoyable, I’ve found that folding flats is strangely cathartic.