Prepping our flat diapers

We got a variety of things to use as flat diapers:


  • 12 OsoCozy birdseye flats from Amazon
  • 5 cotton flannel receiving blankets from Ross (which we may or may not use as diapers)
  • 12 Room Essentials flour sack towels from Target
  • 6 cotton receiving blankets from my mom (again, we may or may not use as diapers)
  • 5 handmade pieces (cotton/poly blend?) from Tommy’s mom

I’ve decided to hand wash and line dry our diapers to save money (we share one washer and dryer with 8 other units). I considered boiling the flats to prep them, but finally went with hand washing so I could establish a routine and see what worked well and what didn’t.

20150824_100142We bought a 5 gallon bucket and plunger from Home Depot, and Tommy drilled a hole in the lid so I could wash without get splashed. I didn’t bother with the lid during the prepping phase because the diapers are basically clean. When they are soiled with urine and poop that lid will be on securely! We are using the detergent brand, Foca (it has a white baby seal on the outside of the bag). Some cloth diapering families are strict about using cloth
diaper specific detergents, others aren’t. I read enough articles and discussion threads where people used regular detergent (as long as there were no fabric softeners in them) without any problems. We bought an 11 lb bag of Foca from Target for $8.59. Besides being inexpensive, Foca contains a water softener, which is great for us because we have very hard water.

Wash routine:

I looked at a variety of websites for wash routines, but I found this one from Fluff Love University (Krawford & Hecht, 2014-2015) to be the simplest and easiest to follow. To summarize:

  1. Cold water rinse: 50 plunges, wait 5 min, 50 more plunges, dump water (I skipped this step because the diapers were new)
  2. First hot water wash with detergent: 50 plunges, let the diapers sit for 10 min, 50 more plunges, dump water
  3. Second hot water wash with detergent: 50 plunges, let the diapers sit for 10 min, 50 more plunges, dump water
  4. Cold water rinse: 50 plunges, wait 5 min, 50 more plunges, dump water

What worked:

  • Load size of 12 flats:
    Drying flour sack towels on my rack from Costco ($25)

    This allowed me to fill the bucket maybe 3/4 full with water and diapers and gave me enough space to stir everything around with the plunger. This amount also fits perfectly on my drying rack.

  • Plunging wasn’t as difficult on my arms as I thought it would be! If anything, wringing out the clothes required the most work.
  • Overall the process required minimal time. I’d say a prepping load took about 25-30 min, but most of that time was letting the diapers soak in the hot water. Actively plunging, draining, and wringing out the diapers took about 5-10 minutes.

What didn’t work:

  • The detergent amount:
    Half cup of Foca = too many suds!

    According to the Foca bag, you should use ½ cup of detergent for about 2.5 gallons of water (half of my bucket). Well I used half a cup of detergent with 2/3 a bucket of water and it was still a suds explosion! I was so mad because I had to rinse out the diapers seven (yes seven) times to remove the detergent! On the next batch I only used 1/8 of a cup (2 Tbsp, as recommended by the Fluff Love article). This seemed to work a lot better! When in doubt, start out with too little detergent. You can always add more later!

  • I got lazy at the end and mixed the dark colored Ross receiving blankets with the light colored pieces from both of our moms. Mistake! The dark blue Ross blanket leaked dye everywhere. I’m thinking of using those blankets as burp cloths instead. I feel that more dye may leak out of them and I don’t want my baby to have a blue bottom. I hand rinsed each of these items to try to remove the blue dye and it seemed to come out fine.

I won’t know how well the diapers will work until our baby arrives. While I could test them for absorbency now, I can’t test how they will fit on my baby and how he reacts to them. I’m satisfied with the prep job that I did, and Tommy reminded me that the flats will get washed multiple times in the first couple of weeks anyway since babies go through so many diapers. So if the diapers aren’t at their peak absorbency yet, they will quickly get there!



Krawford, K. & Hecht, D. (2014-2015). Hand Washing Cloth Diapers. Fluff Love University. Retrieved from


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