So, we only had to use flats through Sunday night. And I was kind of glad after my son had dirtied 3 of the four covers we were using. So, yesterday morning we used pockets. Plus, I had to finish a product trial (I am a tester for a company), so I didn't feel bad about switching at all.
But, I had to finish with hand washing all the diapers used on Sunday. Luckily the washing int he sink wasn't terrible. It wasn't fun, and it isn't something I would want to do on a regular basis, but it wasn't the end of the world. It is definitely something I could do in a pinch. Maybe if we travel again for a short period of time I might wash in a hotel sink. But, I don't see myself handwashing on a regular basis, that is for sure.
I think if a low-income family had an adult at home at least half of the time, using cloth would definitely be doable this way. But, many low income families have all of the adults working more than 40 hours a week. I really don't see families in this situation using cloth to save money. The time with the kids is more important than using something reusable in my opinion. Also, day cares won't accept flats and covers a lot of times since they are a little more work than disposables to put on. So, they would only use them at home.
With that being said, the families that are reusing disposables might find using a fw flats and a cover possible. If you only used 2-3 flats a day, you could easily wash in a sink every other day to every third day. It wouldn't cost much (you can get cheap covers for under $10 each, and they would only need one or two), and they would be more sanitary. There are even wasy to go without official cloth diapers. Some people use old t-shirts with fleece as a cover. Some people use old receiving blankets. It could be done for under $10 total if one had to.I am just glad I don't have to!