How Do I Clean Cloth Diapers with Poop?

By April Duffy •  Updated: 07/05/24 •  6 min read

If your baby is exclusively breastfed (EBF) you’re in luck! EBF poops and meconium 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 the water.

What to do with the poop is without a doubt the worst part of cloth diapering, but thankfully the methods and products I list below make it much easier to deal with. Some involve using water but some do not. Below, I have a list of your options.

Removing the poop from a cloth diaper

How to Clean Poop Off Cloth Diapers Before Washing

Removing Poop Without Water

1. Washable Liners

Liners are a great way to clean the poop off your cloth diapers before you toss them in the washing machine.

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 you 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 fleece 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 still recommend just making your own. Click here for a DIY cloth diaper liner tutorial.

2. Disposable 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 below so you can have a look at 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 the day.

  1. Bumkins Flushable Biodegradable Cloth Diaper Liner, 100 Count
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    07/23/2024 09:01 pm GMT
  2. Wegreeco 100% Bamboo Unscented Biodegradable Diaper Liners, 100 Sheets
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    We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

    07/23/2024 09:01 pm GMT
  3. ALVABABY Natural Bamboo Cloth Diaper Liners, 400 Sheets (4 Rolls)
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    03/08/2024 05:31 am GMT

3. Scraping

Using a rubber spatula (one like the inexpensive one I have a link to on Amazon below works just fine) 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.

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07/23/2024 08:33 pm GMT

Removing Poop With Water

4.“Dunk and Swoosh”

Using water to get the poop off your diapers is both effective and less icky. The most basic way to do this is to literally dunk the dirty diaper into the toilet and swoosh it around (dunk and swoosh).

While this definitely works, it’s not always the most effective, and dunking an absorbent 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 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.

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07/23/2024 09:17 pm GMT

6. Diaper Sprayers

A diaper sprayer is a hose with a spray nozzle that’s hooked up either to your toilet’s freshwater supply at the back of the toilet or to your sink.

A diaper sprayer sprays the waste off of a diaper quickly as it allows you to control the pressure of the stream of water. Diaper sprayers are by far the easiest way to use water to clean off diapers as there’s no refilling needed 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 ones I recommend in my diaper sprayer buying guide here, install quickly and offer controllable water pressure so no mess has a chance of sticking onto the diaper.

One downside 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, or a homemade version of the same, fixes this problem and helps you hold the diaper for completely hands-off cleaning. I have full details about where to find or make one in the diaper sprayer buying guide I mentioned earlier.

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, you’ll simply store them until wash day. You can read more about how to store dirty cloth diapers here.

Once wash day arrives cleaning your cloth diapers that have been pooped in becomes no different from just wet diapers. Just follow your usual Measure Method wash routine, with your usual cloth diaper detergent, and they should come out fresh, clean and ready to catch the next poop for you.

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.