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.
This will of course leave you wondering, how do I clean cloth diapers with poop? 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. Don’t worry, there are many methods to help you do this without touching it, which are outlined below.
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 much easier to deal with. Some involve using water but some do not. Here are your options:
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase through one of those links. Read the full disclosure.
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 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 doing making your own. Click here for a DIY cloth diaper liner tutorial.
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 silicone one from Amazon, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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, cleaning your cloth diapers that have been pooped in becomes no different from just wet diapers.
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.