Dirty Diapers: An Unavoidable Part of Parenting

Posted by Courtney Moser on December 07, 2013.

The thought of handling dirty cloth diapers is a common hang-up for many parents who are debating whether or not to use cloth diapers. “I can't touch poop!” or “Gross – I don't want that stuff in my washer!” are common responses from parents expecting their first parents.

However, as every experienced parent knows, you're going to have to deal with grossness no matter what kind of diapers you choose. Disposables have blowouts. Cloth diapers have to be washed. Toddlers have accidents while potty training. Babies spit up. Stuff happens.

Plus, you might not have noticed this before, but every disposable diaper on the market clearly indicates that solid waste should be flushed. (Most people just ignore those instructions, but the evidence is below.)

How to Manage Dirty Cloth Diapers

Just because cloth diapers must be washed does NOT mean that you have to be elbow-deep in poop all the time. In fact, when you dispose of the solid waste the toilet, you'll enjoy a much less stinky nursery than if you store dirty diapers in a diaper genie until trash collection day!

Here are a few different methods that cloth diapering parents employ for managing dirty cloth diapers (without going crazy).

  1. Do nothing! This is a special privilege only for the parents of exclusively-breastfed infants. Not only does breastmilk poop have a non-offensive smell, it's also quite runny and entirely water soluble. After the soiled diaper goes through your regular washing routine of rinse/wash/rinse, there won’t be a trace of poop left. (Trust me. My OCD husband and I were both skeptical of this advice myself and we checked every inch of our washing machine.)
  2. Dunk & Swish. This method is old-school and a little more "hands-on" than others (although it helps to wear gloves). Just dunk the diaper in the toilet bowl, swish it around, and wring it out by hand. Have a wet bag or pail liner nearby to toss it in.
  3. Scrape It. Some people keep a spatula for scraping the solid waste off the diaper and into the toilet bowl. (If you do this, you should also take a Sharpie to that spatula and clearly mark it for its new purpose. That’s not a utensil you would want to resurface in your kitchen, ever ever ever ever ever!)
  4. Spray It. This seems to be the preferred method today. A diaper sprayer attaches conveniently to the side of the toilet and works like the kitchen sprayer on your sink. Other devices exist to make spraying easier, including the Potty Pail, the Spray Pal.
  5. Peel & Flush. You can buy flushable liners that lay between the diaper and your baby’s bottom. These liners resemble dryer sheets (only softer) and serve to catch any the solid waste while allowing liquid to soak pass through and be absorbed by the diaper. When you change baby's diaper, simply peel off the liner and flush it away. (Caution: may not be suitable for septic tanks or homes with very old plumbing.)

Courtney Moser


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