Have you heard of FSTs? I’ve been seeing threads popping up all over cloth diapering forums about Flour Sack Towels, aka, FSTs. To be more specific, Flour Sack Towels sold at Walmart:
Mamas have been raving about using them as inserts in their cloth diapers. In Canada, a package of five sells for $7 (it’s less in the States), so that works out to $1.40 per insert. The towels are made of 100% cotton, and are extremely thin, like a cheap hotel bedsheet!
Here are some of the other inserts in my stash to show you how an unfolded FST looks in terms of size. (Top left corner is Öko Creations, Bummis medium-sized prefold on the right, BumGenius regular insert below.)
I wanted to investigate the effectiveness of FSTs as an alternative to more expensive cloth diaper inserts. I know that some Mamas use them in lieu of flat diapers, but having never diapered using flats, I don’t feel qualified to compare. I used my FSTs as inserts in my pocket diapers and as inserts in my “AI2” systems:
You know what? They worked just fine! Cotton is super absorbent and super easy to launder (compared to microfiber). The shape of these towels (28 in x 29 in, and I noticed minimal shrinkage after washing) makes it extremely easy to fold them just as you wish to get the perfect fit and maximize absorbency as needed. To make sure there are extra layers up in the wet zone for my son, I’ve been folding like this:
I found the FSTs to be sufficient for my 2-year-old average wetter (I definitely don’t consider him to be a heavy wetter) for about 2 hours. Normally I use Öko Creations inserts in my diapers, which are definitely more absorbent, but definitely more expensive if you’re trying to get your babe diapered for the lowest price possible.
If you want to cloth diaper effectively and extremely inexpensively, I absolutely would recommend investing in good, durable diaper covers and using FSTs as your insert in an AI2 system, meaning you don’t need 24 separate covers since you can reuse them for multiple changes. If you want to use them in pocket diapers, then choose a brand of pocket diaper that can be purchased without inserts (so that you’re not paying for inserts you don’t need). For example, you can buy Funky Fluff shells without inserts, and AMP and AppleCheeks are both sold without inserts.
For a cheap “stay dry” effect, you can add a fleece liner to your FST insert when using as an All-in-two.
For a cheap, boosted insert, I tried folding a small microfiber dishcloth from Dollarama and placing it in the center of a FST like so:
As you can see, the dishcloth, when folded in half, is the same size and thickness as a BumGenius newborn insert, which I use as a booster in my pocket diapers for day care! (Make sure you do wrap the microfiber in the FST, as microfiber shouldn’t touch baby’s skin.) I found this system to be extra absorbent, and this could be a better option for a heavy wetter.
Flour sack towels are trim inserts, even when folded up as shown above:
If you are just short a few inserts for your collection to make it til wash day, definitely, buy a 5-pack… you can’t really lose. Worst case scenario? You’ve got some dishcloths, or… a cape!
No Walmart near you? You can even order them online (affiliate link)! Wash your FSTs once before use. They will continue to gain absorbency with subsequent washings.
I have also found FSTs at Loblaws (in western Canada, Super Store, I presume!), a 3-pack is $5.50. They are the same dimensions and seem pretty much identical, but we haven’t tried them yet.