The purpose of this challenge was to see if using flat diapers and hand washing them would be a viable alternative for families struggling to pay for diapers. There are many families struggling to provide the basic necessities for their children. Disposable diapers can be a huge added expense. I haven't ever used disposables exclusively. We used them part time at night and away from home with Devon and only on vacations of more than 2 -3 days with the other kids, so I'm not really sure how much they would cost full time. I've seen estimates of $50 -70 per child per month. I have always felt that using cloth diapers was a great alternative and finances have always been a huge factor our using cloth. Flats are the cheapest type of cloth diaper to obtain. After doing this challenge, I can say that I would have absolutely no qualms about giving a new parent 2 dozen flat diapers and 5 or so covers and teaching them how to use them.
On Tuesday, I was already ready to give up on the hand washing part of the challenge. I stopped and re thought out my routine, made a few changes and continued. Thursday, I discovered that I didn't really hate hand washing any more than I hate several other chores I do on a daily basis. Cleaning is really not my forte, I am much better at the creative aspects of homemaking. Cooking, sewing, knitting, are fun to me. Organizing, re-arranging, homeschooling are just fine. Dishwashing, sweeping, dusting, and hand washing diapers are much further down the list. That said, I do however think it would be very doable if necessary. I could definitely see someone supplementing disposables with handwashing flats. I could also see handwashing on a temporary basis.
Line drying also was no problem for me. I live in the Pacific NW and it has been pretty rainy this week. I could never get by with only 10-12 diapers and line dry, but at $ .25- 1.00 per diaper having 2-3 dozen and line drying would work fine. Rod and I have lived in a very small house and several apartments during our year of marriage and I think I could have found a place to dry diapers anywhere.
To sum up my thoughts, I'd say that flat diapers are a very workable solution. Line drying is also quite doable. Hand washing I would not really expect someone to do full time on a permanent basis, but would be useful to supplement disposables or communal washing. Now, that is also for me washing diapers for a special needs pre-schooler (almost 4) and a toddler. It might be more workable if I was only diapering Brenna.
On a personal level I learned that fancier isn't always better. I used flats and prefolds with velcro ( and eventually snap) covers with my first 3 kids. By the time I was pregnant with Duncan pocket diapers and all in ones had become big business. Diapers were all of a sudden a fashion statement. All the ads brought up how much easier the "new" diapers were compared to the archaic flats and even prefolds. We started slowly switching over (mainly by my making diapers). Then we started having problems with smells staying in the polyester fibers. I found that the elastic wore out faster than in my old covers. Owen started breaking out from the microfleece and suedecloth lining. We have been switching back to all natural fabrics and mostly using homemade fitteds and wool covers or PUL covers with prefolds. After using flats for the last week I think I'll be working them into my regular rotation instead of just using them in emergencies. It seems a little weird to go back to what I was using 15 years ago, but they really work better and for less cost. I will, however be using my washing machine Monday (tomorrow I'll still handwash today's diapers). Brenna likes washing her diapers much more than I do!