If your baby is exclusively breast fed (EBF) you’re in luck! EBF poops are water-soluble and you can just toss those dirty diapers in the wash without even looking at them. Unfortunately, once solids are introduced, poop will no longer break down in water, which may leave you wondering, how do I clean cloth diapers with poop?
The simple fact is that to clean cloth diapers with poop you first have to remove the poop. This means you have to get it off before you even put the diapers into the washing machine.
What to do with the poop is without a doubt the worst part of cloth diapering, but thankfully there are a number of methods and products available out there to help. Some involve using water but some do not. Here are your options:
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How to Remove the Poop From Cloth Diapers Before Washing
Removing Poop Without Water
1. Washable Liners
Cloth diaper liners are thin fabric strips, usually made of fleece, cotton, or minky, that are laid on top of the cloth diaper to sit against baby’s skin. Liners protect the diaper from solids, and can be lifted out at diaper changes to make dumping solids in the toilet easier.
You can make your own liners from a piece of fabric very easily and inexpensively (we’re talking a few bucks and a pair of scissors), or you can purchase pre-made liners, which are made from fleece to have a “stay-dry” feel. Finding washable liners premade can be challenging, and at the time of writing I couldn’t find them at the big stores like Walmart, Target or Amazon, but you can find them in local cloth diaper shops like Cloth Diaper Kids, here.
2. Disposible Liners
Disposable liners are made of a thin mesh, usually viscose, that can be tossed right along with the waste at diaper changes. Disposable liners take a lot of the work out of diaper changes, but some liners are prone to bunching, which can make them less effective.
Disposable liners are also a continuing cost as you’ll need to keep buying more. Most disposable liners, like the Bumkins Biodegradable Cloth Diaper Liners or the Wegreeco Diaper Liners, (I’ll put links to their Amazon pages below so you can have a look a them) are fairly inexpensive and come in packages of about 100, which would only last a few weeks if you were using a new one at every diaper change.
Luckily, most babies get into a pattern and you should get to know when your baby is likely to poop, and can add one only at those times of day.
Using a rubber spatula, like this inexpensive one from Target, to scrape solids off the diaper is also an option. Scraping the waste off the diaper can be inconvenient as it can push the waste into the fabric (especially with loose stools), and you will have to clean the spatula itself afterward.
Removing Poop With Water
4.“Dunk and Swoosh”
Using water to get the poop of your diapers is the both effective and less icky. The most basic way to do this to literally dunk the dirty diaper the toilet and swoosh it around (dunk and swoosh). While this definitely works, it’s not always the most effective and dunking an absorbant diaper into a ton of water leaves you with a completely soaked diaper that you’ll need to let drain off before you can take it away from the toilet.
5. Peri Bottle Sprayer
Often used as a good travel cloth diaper sprayer, that perineal bottle the hospital sent you home with can be used to get the poop off our diapers. Unlike the dunking and swooshing a peri bottle gives you a small, controlled stream you can use to lift solids from the diaper and into the toilet. The biggest downside of using a small peri bottle is that you’ll need to fill it multiple times, or have multiple peri bottles at the ready, to get a messy poop clean enough to be put in the hamper.
6. Diaper Sprayers
A diaper sprayer is a hose with a spray nozzle that’s hooked up to your toilet’s fresh water supply at the back of the toilet. A diaper sprayer sprays the waste off a diaper quickly as it allows you to control the pressure of the stream of water. Diaper sprayers are the easiest way to use water to clean off diapers as it of course doesn’t need any refilling and won’t saturate the diaper to the point where it can’t be put in the laundry right away.
Good quality, but economical diaper sprayers like the HeepWah and SmarterFresh sprayers (I’ll put links below to their product pages on Amazon), install quickly and offer controllable water pressure so no mess has a chance of sticking onto the diaper.
One down side is that if you are using a high-pressure stream to get out a particularly nasty poop, some water can bounce off the diaper and onto your toilet and surrounding area. A Spray Pal cloth diaper sprayer splatter shield, a Diaper Dawgs splatter shield (again, Amazon links below), or a homemade version of the same can help eliminate this problem and help you hold the diaper for completely hands-off cleaning.
What To Do After Removing the Poop
After removing the poop from the diaper as best as you can — it’s ok if you didn’t get every smudge and stain — using one or more of the methods we just discussed, cleaning your cloth diapers that have been pooped in becomes no different from just wet diapers. Just follow your usual wash routine, with your cloth diaper detergent, and they should come out fresh, clean and ready to catch the next poop for you.
Need More Help?
If cloth diaper information is becoming overwhelming, or if you’re having trouble with your cloth diapers that you can’t seem to work out, you may want to check out the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Wash & Care Handbook.