I promised myself that I wouldn’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever use this word on the internet. It just felt like crossing a line, going to the dark side where it’s all minivans and mom jeans from now until eternity and there is no going back.
But I don’t see any way around it. Just on this page. Only this one page.
Well, crap, I said it. It has to be said, though, because it’s a troublesome topic for many a parent when considering the use of cloth diapers. “Will I have to touch the poop?” or “Gross – I’m not putting that in my washing machine!” are common responses to the thought of changing and laundering cloth diapers.
Soapbox Sidenote: Please understand that this paranoia about poop shouldn’t just be a problem for those of us who use cloth diapers. Every disposable diaper on the market clearly indicates that solid waste should be flushed, but most people ignore those instructions.
How to Deal with Poopy Cloth Diapers
So how can we make the process a little less… well… gross? Here’s a quick run-down of the various methods that cloth diapering families use for getting the poop off the diaper and into the waste system where it belongs.
- Do nothing! This is a special treat for you sleepless parents of exclusively-breastfed infants. The poop of breastfed babies is very liquidy and completely 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. I was apprehensive at first, so I inspected every crevice of my washing machine with a flashlight in hand. It really does wash away completely and there are no smells afterward, either.)
- Dunk & Swish. I’m not talking about basketball. This method is old-school and is what my mom used to do. (Read about her experiences using cloth diapers in the 1970s and ’80s in her blog post for the Real Diaper Association.) You dunk the diaper in the toilet bowl, swish it around, and wring it out by hand.
- Scrape It. Some people just keep a spatula by the toilet so that they can scrape the solid waste off the diaper and into the toilet bowl. (If I were going to use this method, first I’d take a Sharpie to that spatula and clearly mark it for its new purpose. That’s not a utensil you would want to see in your kitchen ever ever ever again!)
- Spray It. This seems to be the preferred method today. A diaper sprayer attaches conveniently to the side of the toilet and work just as easily as the kitchen sprayer on your sink. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you can even assemble your own with supplies from a hardware store. Spray the solids from the diaper into the toilet, then place the wet diaper in your pail. Various devices exist to make spraying easier, including the Potty Pail, the Spray Pal, and the Cloth Diaper Butler.
- Peel & Flush. Some families use biodegradable, flushable liners that go in between the absorbent diaper and the baby’s bottom. This liner is slightly thicker than toilet paper and catches the solid material, while any liquid soaks right through to be absorbed by the diaper. When you take off the diaper, you grab the edge of the liner, peel it off, and flush it down the toilet.
If handling poop is your biggest concern about cloth diapering, don’t let it hold you back! Removing poop from cloth diapers is far easier than removing it from disposables. Plus, as a parent, you’re going to be dealing with all kinds of bodily functions from your child for many years to come, so you might as well get used to it!