Monday, August 5, 2013

The Scoop on Poop

You've bought your diapers.

You've prepped your diapers.

You even put a diaper on the baby.

But then...IT happens. Your baby USES the diaper. And not as a hat. But for its intended purpose!


Actually, no. No horror! We promise. It is very easy to clean a cloth diaper, and the visions of a poop-filled washing machine you have in your head? Not gonna happen!


Dirty diapers is the first thing people think of when starting cloth diapering because of the process they fear involving removal of solids from the diaper prior to washing. Some even think you just throw diapers in the washer without removing the solids at all..  

Its funny really because this shouldn't be a hard concept to grasp, but our society has conformed to the way of thinking that babies poop in diapers and then you throw it in the garbage!! WHAT?? Take a second, think about that! As adults do we throw our poop in the trash?? No, that would be quite unsanitary. So why should baby poop be any different? It shouldn't and even disposable diaper companies don't suggest this either. It says right on the box:

Cloth Diaper Washing

There are two stages of cloth-diaper washing: pre-solids (breastfeeding or formula fed) and post-solids (eating baby food) .

If you are nursing or formula feeding your child, just throw the soiled diaper in the wetbag. Then when you have a load's worth of dirty diapers, wash them. No, really, that's it.  No separating pee diapers from poop diapers. No rinsing or scraping. Breast milk poo is totally water soluble and will simply dissolve away in the washer.

You CAN rinse or use a liner, but there is absolutely no need to do so and you're just creating an extra step for yourself. Of course, some people are uber-paranoid about the thought of poop spinning around in their washing machine, and if that's you, then by all means do what you have to do in order to ease your mind! But you don't have to do anything other than wash the diaper.

Breast milk poop (and I assume formula poop) may stain your diapers a bright orange. That's okay. sun that stain away!

(Note about meconium - it will come off, though you may want to swish/spray/scrape the diaper [see below], and any stains will sun out!)

Depending on how you introduce solid foods into your child's diet, you may immediately see a change in their, um, output, or you may continue to see the breast milk- or formula-type poop for several weeks or even months. We started solids using the baby-led weaning techniques, and it took two months for her poop to change from the seedy, sweet-smelling (seriously!) breast milk poop to the "real" poop of people who eat real food. Some people, though, see the change almost overnight.

Once your child's poop has changed - and it will be obvious, trust me - you will need to start dealing with the poop. This is the point a lot of people bail. However, I promise - I've yet to get poop all over the place or even touch poop. I promise you if you were using disposables, you would have had to deal with a poop blowout at least once, if not regularly! Also, if you were using disposables correctly, you would be dealing with the poop anyway - you aren't supposed to put human waste in the trash, and are supposed to remove solids from the disposable diaper prior to throwing it away! (pictured above)

Eventually, your child's poop may become "ploppable," meaning you can just turn the diaper over the toilet and the solids will drop right off into the toilet.

In the meantime, your kid's poop may range from peanut-butter stickiness (um, you may not want to eat during this post) to hummus textured to mashed potato-like.  Those poops, you can't just drop into the toilet. They stick. They cling. They don't want to leave the diaper.

You have several options on how to deal with those types of poops.
Based of a short unofficial survey we did last week here is what real parents like you are using:

  1. Diaper Sprayer: being the most popular and also the most expensive.
  2. Flushable Liners: second most popular and second most expensive.
  3. Fleece Liners: third most popular and fairly inexpensive.
  4. Dedicated Spatula: Not as popular as an option yet very inexpensive.
  5. Dunk & Swish: The least popular option and yet its free!
  6. Other: This was for the people who said they used a cloth wipe or toilet paper to remove solids from the diaper and it was a fairly inexpensive option.

How to Remove Solids using these Methods:

1. Dunk & Swish
You can hold the diaper in the toilet (by one corner, usually) and swish it around in the toilet water, eventually flushing the toilet while holding the diaper tightly so that the rushing water cleans off the diaper. Be sure to have a wetbag nearby, because you'll have a dripping wet diaper to dispose of! This is minimally messy, but it can be difficult to fully clean the diaper.  Plus? It's free and needs no additional equipment!

2. Spray
You can install a diaper sprayer on your toilet (or some enterprising cheapskates use their removable showerhead - brilliant!). You then use this sprayer to spray the poop off the diaper while holding the diaper over the toilet bowl. The key here? Don't use the full force of the spray, and spray DOWNWARD, not into, the diaper. If you spray into the diaper at full force, you will end up with a bathroom full of poop water. There's a bit of a learning curve to spraying diapers, but they get diapers quite clean. You do have to purchase a diaper sprayer or make one yourself, however, and again, be sure to have a wetbag immediately available because the diaper will be dripping wet.

3. Scrape
Using a (I hope) dedicated spatula, you hold the diaper with one hand and use the other hand and spatula to scrape the poop off into the toilet, sometimes finishing up with a swish. This is a cheap and generally fairly un-messy option, though some blow-out type poops that get in the elastic areas may be difficult to get off this way. If you don't swish afterward, the diaper remains relatively dry.
4. Liner's
Using a fleece or flushable liner can drastically cut down the diaper change routine time when you can just toss the dirty diaper and pod in the pail and either flush the solids & flushable liner down the toilet or shake them into the toilet and rinse the fleece liner before putting in the pail.

Fleece Liners are also an easy way to add a stay dry effect on your bamboo pods.

They also help reduce staining if that is something you are afraid of, or don't have access to a line to dry pods outside.

No choice has a huge advantage over any of the other choices, and they can each work equally well at cleaning the solids off of the diaper. Once the solids have been removed from the diaper, you can put it in the wetbag and come laundry day wash it as usual.

Solid food poop also stains, and also suns out beautifully. (sometimes after a couple washes)


If you can, line dry the diapers in the sun. It helps the PUL and elastic last longer, and the sun acts as a natural sanitizer.  Your natural-fiber diapers and inserts might get "crunchy" (stiff and rough) when line dried. To combat this, you can toss them in the dryer for five or ten minutes on low to fluff them back up.

If you use the dryer, dry on low or extra low, and don't stretch the elastic until they've cooled down.
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  1. My husband is kind enough to do most of the spraying of the dirty diapers in our household. We have a Potty Pail and he swears he couldn't use cloth diapers without it!