What do you do with the poop?
You have a sweet, adorable little baby. You've put him or her in the cutest cloth diaper you can find. As you're admiring how adorable their little fluffy butt looks, you start to smell something. That sweet child of yours has pooped. Great. Now what?
It depends on your child's diet!
Exclusively Breast Fed: Lucky parents of exclusively breastfeed babies don't have to do anything special when their baby poops. Breast milk poop is water soluble. Take the diaper off, throw it in the diaper pail, and move onto the next adorable cloth diaper in your stash. Note: My son was almost exclusively breast feed. Once or twice a week, he was given a bottle of formula. This was not enough of a change in diet to be concerned with disposing of the poop. I still just threw the diapers in the pail.
Exclusively Formula Fed: Unfortunately, formula poop is not water soluble. You'll have to dispose the poop before throwing the diaper in the pail. Keep reading for tips on how to dispose of the poop.
Eating Solid Foods: The change in your baby's diet will also bring a change in their diet. You'll find some foods will produce the worst diaper changes! You'll begin to long for potty training days despite your love for your cloth diapers. If you've been one of the lucky parents that was throwing breast milk poop diapers into the pail all along, your diaper changing routine is about to change! It is now time to dispose of your child's poop.
How do you dispose of the poop?
Diaper Sprayer: This is my favorite method of cleaning my diapers after a diaper change. We installed a diaper sprayer in the bathroom across the hall from my son's nursery. There are various brands of diaper sprayers and tutorials on how to make your own. You'll have to install the sprayer to your toilet. When needed, just hold the diaper down into the bowl, spray the soiled area with your sprayer, and flush away the waste. The diaper can now be thrown into the diaper pail.
Flushable Liners: Another method for disposing of poop is to use flushable liners in your diaper. After each diaper change, put a liner in between the diaper and your child. The liner should catch all, or most of, the poop. When it's time to change a soiled diaper, just dump the liner and the poop into the toilet and flush!
Dunk and Swish: This is one of the oldest methods for disposing of poop. Hold the soiled diaper into the bowl of the toilet so that it is in the water. While firmly holding the diaper with one hand, flush the toilet with the other. The force of the water flushing should pull the poop away from the diaper.
Scrape: Some parents choose to designate a spatula for dealing with poop. They scrape the poop off of the diaper and into the toilet. Personally, this does not sound appealing to me! Then again, sometimes you do what you have to.
Note: The poop does not have to be removed completely. Sometimes you will get a really stubborn diaper that will not come completely clean after spraying, swishing, etc. I get any large chunks and do the best I can.
Where do you store the soiled diapers?
Now that you've disposed of the poop, or removed the diaper in the case of breastfed babies, you'll need to store the soiled diaper until laundry day. You'll want to store all of your dirty diapers in a wet bag or pail liner. In our nursery, we have a 13 gallon trash can with a swing top lid that we line with a pail liner. I keep a wet bag hanging on a 3M Command hook in the bathroom for diapers that have been sprayed. When we're on the go, I keep a wet bag in my diaper bag and transfer the diaper to my diaper pail once we are home. For traveling, we have a large hanging wet bag that holds enough diapers for a weekend away from home.
How do I clean poopy diapers?
I think the biggest thing that grosses people out when they hear that I cloth diaper, is that I put poop in my washing machine. It's really not that gross, I promise! I don't have a separate machine for diapers and clothes, it all goes in the same machine, just in different loads! You should wash your diapers every 2-3 days. Any longer and you can deal with major stink, set in stains, and ammonia.
You'll want to run a pre-rinse cycle, followed by a long hot wash with detergent, then a rinse, and lastly a second rinse.
What about stains?
Using cloth diapers, you're bound to end up with stains from time to time. There are various methods for dealing with your stains.
Cold water: Cold water is best for treating stains. Hot water can cause stains to set in. However, when washing cloth diapers, you need to wash in the hot water to sanitize and kill any bacteria. Using cold water in your pre-rinse can serve as a pre-treatment for stains.
Sun: The sun is a wonderful, natural bleaching element! After washing, dry your diapers in the sun! Even if you don't have a place to put your diapers outside, placing them in the sun in front of a window is effective as well.
Bleach: The occasional use of bleach on your diapers can help with stains. It's important to check with your manufacturer's recommendations before bleaching diapers as it can void warranties.
Tide: Tide is my favorite laundry detergent to use for cloth diapers. It is controversial and you should know that it can void the warranties of your diapers, but it is excellent at cleaning and removing stains.
Last and most important, don't stress about stains! Overtime many stains will fade and disappear all together. Just because you have poop stains does not mean your diapers are not clean!
Special thanks to my friend Joann for her expertise and advice!