Allow me to preface by stating the obvious before someone complains about that which should be apparent in the title: this article is about poop. I’m going to talk about poop… more than any human being probably should. And while I will spare you from disgusting real pictures of poop, there are still graphic illustrations. Consider yourself warned.
When asking around what deters many people from cloth diapering, one of the most commonly stated reasons involve some refusal to deal with poop. But the fact is, whether you use disposables or cloth diapers, if you have a baby, you are going to deal with poop whether you like it or not. In fact, I dealt with lots of poop issues before switching to cloth diapers, including liquidous diarrhea blowouts and newborn poopsplosions. And it was all outside the diaper. Yuk. We have to deal with it. Cloth diapering is more regularly involved with handling poop, yes, but it’s not nearly as bad as most people expect! We have technology!
First, let’s talk poop… and yes, I categorized poop. There are 3 types of stools you’ll encounter:
EBF poop is a mustard-like color, often described as “seedy”, and can be actually sweet smelling. This stool is a cloth diapering mother’s dream-poop, if such a thing is possible, because this poop is water soluble. That means that you can throw this kind right into the washer and the machine will be able to thoroughly break down and rinse out all stools without clogging up your machine. If your baby is both formula and breastfed or just formula fed, then baby’s stools won’t share the same water-soluble properties (sorry), but they are pretty easy to clean off!
SOS poop, as I call it, is when you need help! This is usually when babies start solids, and their stools thicken significantly. This kind is usually soft, mushy, and will need to be rinsed off into the toilet before going into your machine.
Ploppable poop is back onto easy-street, named for it’s ability to simply roll off the diaper and into the toilet due to it’s solid nature, thus “ploppable”.
So while EBF poop can go right into your machine, and ploppable poop can just, well, plop into the toilet, how do we handle the SOS poop?
You have options!
First of all, there are reusable liners you can buy, which removes the need to attempt to wash poop off an entire diaper. I personally love this option because getting poop off of microfleece is much easier than off natural fibers. Plus, I DIY’d my liners using a half yard of microfleece from JoAnns, using a 50% off fabric coupon to get my material for just over $3. And since it doesn’t need to be hemmed (nor is it prone to curling), I was able to cut sizable liners for my son to reduce the hassle of SOS poop! Rinsing off a thin liner is easier than an entire diaper. Microfleece (not to be confused with microfiber) also lends a stay-dry effect for babies who are sensitive to feeling wet. Bonus: if the poop is that nasty, they can be guiltlessly thrown away, although I never encountered a poop so bad I threw out a liner.
Alternatively, there are disposable liners: a biodegradable, flushable viscose liner that you can put in your cloth diaper to catch the mess and then just flush it away! While some people think this defeats the purpose of switching to cloth, think again. Besides being completely biodegradable, they only cost about 8 cents a piece. You can get them in large rolls and, if your baby is on a “poop schedule”, you can drastically cut back on liners by only lining the diaper when you know baby is going to poop! Speaking of knowing when baby is going to poop…
There is always EC (Elimination Communication)! Some parents can tell when even young infants are going to poop, and babies can learn to poop on potty! Then you don’t need to rinse off poop at all!
For those babies who SOS their diapers that need to be rinsed off, there are diaper sprayers! These are like kitchen sink sprayers attached to your toilet to allow you to simply hose off the diaper. These sprayers are useful beyond cloth diapering, too, making nasty chores like cleaning the toilet and getting vomit off stuffed animals (ugh) insanely easier! I got a cheap $20 one off Amazon, thinking it would only last maybe half a year… it’s been almost 2 years and it’s still going strong. You can make one yourself using parts from the hardware store. YouTube has some video tutorials for doing this, although if you drop money on a quality brand, you’ll get the added bonus of a warranty and an all-around better quality sprayer. If you happen to have a shower in very close proximity to the toilet, though, you could always just use a detachable shower head (with an extended hose if necessary) to hose diapers off into the toilet. You can also hose diapers off into a bucket in the shower if your shower head doesn’t reach. And if splatter concerns you, there are wonderful inventions like the Spray Pal which holds the diaper for you to hose off while containing any potential splatter. Pretty handy!
Then there’s good ol’ dunk ‘n’ swish: the process of just dunking the diaper into the toilet until the solids fall off. This method is actually incredibly efficient. Rubber gloves are a huge help in reducing gross factor. It also helps to flush if there is a lot to clean off, but make sure you don’t flush the diaper by accident! For some SOS diapers, I found this to be significantly quicker and less messy than using a sprayer.
Now sometimes, (because TMI isn’t a thing in this post) some softer stools can actually be rolled in the diaper into a mass and plopped off without a hassle. Other times, you’ll have a diaper so messy that you’d wish you could just throw it away. In those cases, I find throwing them in a bucket, filling with water, and plunging it to be the most hands-off easiest solution to those diapers. You can then dawn the rubber gloves, fish the diaper out, give it a wring and toss it into the pail before dumping the nasty water right into the toilet. I’ve only ever had to do that twice, but both times it beat standing over the toilet dunking and flushing and spraying and fighting the urge to swear at an inanimate object as if it has feelings to be hurt. Taking that option to the next level, you could always apply the bucket and plunger method to an entire day’s worth of poop diapers. I did this with my youngest’s diapers when he made the switch to formula and his stools changed. I just put all the poopy diapers into a bucket of water and, at the end of the day, I’d plunge the bucket to knock off any poop before putting the diapers into the pail and dumping the water into the toilet. It was better in my mind to spend 2 minutes doing that rather than 30-40 seconds for each poop diaper when he would have as many as 8 poop diapers a day.
Another thing: you’ll also hear some people use a “pooptula”, a designated spatula for scraping poop off diapers. I not only find this gross but very inefficient. Just… no.
I’ve also seen some moms just use baby wipes to wipe off as much as possible before tossing into the diaper pail! I don’t recommend this as it may require a lot of wipes (and is downright pointless if you use reusable wipes), but I have done it before for just a tiny smear of soft stools.
On the go, dealing with poop can be as simple as throwing the disposable liner into the toilet, plopping solids into the toilet, or just putting the soiled diaper into a wetbag to deal with when you get home. A quality wetbag won’t leave your diaper bag stinky; no one will even know it’s there.
Dealing with poop is one of those bits that sounds much worse than it really is. Sure, disposables were easier, but at considering your options nowadays, dealing with poop in cloth diapers is not that big of a deal. I was freaked out by the idea of it, considering how scarred I was from trying to clean poop off baby clothes when the disposables blew out on an almost weekly basis with my previous babies. I’m amazed, though, how quickly it ceased to faze me as it became a normal part of every day. Liquid stools that used to pool in disposables are no match for cloth. Newborn poopsplosions became a thing of the past. I’ve actually gotten to the point that seeing disposables in my trashcan grosses me out more than dunking a diaper into the toilet!
And poop stains are no match for the sun! Simply lay wet diapers in the sun for the best stain-removal results!
What is your method for dealing with poopy diapers? Did I forget to mention something important? Have a question? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for reading!