Cloth diapers appeal to many families, not only for the health benefits, but for the financial benefits as well. Most people know that cloth diapers save money and are great for the environment, but people tend to shy away from the idea of using cloth diapers when it comes to the subject of cleaning poop from the diapers. Sadly, when most people think of how to clean pooped-in cloth diapers, they have visions of scrubbing poop out of diapers with their bare hands! This couldn’t be further from the truth! I always tell people, “If you’re touching the poop, you’re doing something wrong!”
Many people are unaware but even with disposable diapers, the package directs consumers to scrap solid contents into the toilet before disposing of the diaper!
So how exactly do you clean poopy cloth diapers?
If your baby is exclusively breastfed…
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, meaning they are only being fed breast milk, no foods, cereals or formulas, then cleaning poopy diapers is a breeze. Because of the makeup of a breastfed baby’s stools, the diaper can be thrown directly into the washer without rinsing or soaking. At this point, your exclusively breastfed baby’s stools are water soluble and dissolve and disappear in your washer, making cleaning your dirty diapers easier than it will ever be!
If your baby is formula fed, or eating baby foods, cereals or solids…
This is the point where cleaning your baby’s poopy cloth diapers gets a little more difficult, but not by much! Instead of simply tossing the diaper in the washer like you would and exclusively breastfed baby’s diaper, you will need to rinse or soak the diaper prior to washing it. There are many ways you can do this.
Many families use diaper sprayers to spray the contents of dirty diapers into the toilet. This sprayer works much like the sprayer on many kitchen sinks, however, it is installed directly onto the same water line as the toilet. This allows the contents of the diaper to be sprayed directly into the toilet and flushed.
A more economical route that many parents use, is the “swishing” method. Instead of using a sprayer, the diaper is folded inside out and then swished in the toilet bowl until the majority of the fecal matter has come off of the diaper. Sometimes, with especially difficult stools, it may be necessary to flush the toilet, while swishing the diaper. You do not need to remove every last speck of poop, however, the majority of the solid waste should be removed from the diapers.
Some parents utilize toilet brushes and even designated spatulas to help scrap the contents from dirty diaper, however, many parents find these tools unnecessary.
What about ammonia smells?
Ammonia is one of the most common issues families face when cloth diapering. Ammonia smells can be enough to knock a person out. The diapers have been washed, dried and smell fine, but as soon as the diaper is wet in, it reeks of ammonia. This is due to build up in the diapers, and there are many ways to address this issues. There are many specialty diaper detergents out there intended to help combat ammonia, as well as special diaper soaks, as well. However, one of the simplest ways to combat ammonia is by adding a tablespoon or two of blue Dawn dish soap to each load of laundry that contains diapers. However, when using any of these methods, realize that every baby is different and the chemical composition of urine varies from child to child, so what works for one, may not work for another.
The Bottom Line
Cloth diapers are much easier than it would seem, and in the end, the effort it takes to clean the diapers is worth the money saved, the health benefits, and planetary health benefits.