A big barrier in switching from disposables to cloth diapers is poop. I mean, as parents, we’ve all washed our share of pee, right? Pee on clothes, pee on sheets, pee on the floor because the diaper shifted a little too far to the side. But poo is another matter. We’ve all washed poo too, mostly out of clothes after a pooplosion. Most people do not relish the idea of dealing with poop anymore than they have to. Although all disposable diapers include instructions telling you to remove the poop from the diaper before throwing it in the trash (because that stuff belongs in the sewage system, not in the landfill where it may contaminate ground water), nobody does. At least no one I’ve ever met. So, just in case you are thinking about using cloth diapers, let’s discuss some of your options when it comes to poop. (These methods all assume a dry pail, which is what I use.)
1. Toilet dunk
When I used disposables, I thought this was the only option, and that misconception was one of the big reasons I didn't consider using cloth diapers. I did NOT want to stick my hands in the toilet water! But then I found out about all the other options. Some people (my sister) still use this method, finding it to be the simplest and cheapest, but you definitely don't have to toilet dunk if you don't want to (I NEVER do).
This is what I used with my first child from about 1-year-old until potty training. A liner is like a dryer sheet that you lay on top of the cloth diaper. If your kid pees, it goes right through the liner and is soaked up by the diaper. If your kid poops, the solid stuff stays on the liner, which you can pick up off the diaper and flush right down the toilet. I liked the Imse Vimse liner best. My husband used to assemble and stack enough diapers for the day each morning -- cover, fitted cloth diaper, liner, then fold the whole bundle in half – so that you could just grab an assembled diaper at a diaper change. However, my husband and I did eventually get sick of having another step (laying down the liner on top of the cloth diaper) to do in the diapering process.
3. Diaper shower/sprayer
This is a neat little device you attach to your toilet (it uses your toilet water). When your kid poops on a diaper, you can use the sprayer to spray the solid stuff into the toilet. There are many fans of the diaper shower. A year's worth of liners costs about the same as a diaper shower, so it's an economical choice. And the diaper shower has the advantage that you only have to use it when you actually need it (unlike the liners, which you must use on every diaper, unless you know when your child is going to poop, and if you do, see #4).
This is a great option if your child is regular. I heard about infant potty training from a few different places. My neighbor, who used cloth diapers, told me her daughter had only pooped in the potty since she was around one year. Then the folks on Green Baby Guide wrote about their attempts at infant potty training. By about 6 months, my daughter was regular enough (pooping first thing in the morning about 80% of the time), that I decided this was worth a try. When you are cloth diapering, infant potty training has a really big payoff (no poopy diapers to wash!). Now I am often blessed with a full load of cloth diapers (3-4 days worth) with ZERO poopy diapers.
When she does have an especially gross poopy diaper, I sometimes do dunk it in the toilet, but I don’t get my hands in the toilet water! I hold the non-poopy end (which often is wet with pee, which I can handle), and then flush the toilet and let the whirling water get off some of the poop. And then it goes into the bin. I much prefer occasionally rinsing off some poop in the toilet and helping my 1-year-old poop on the potty to using a liner at every single diaper change.
5. Do (almost) nothing.
Here’s the great news – if you exclusively breastfeed, you really do need to do NOTHING to the poopy diaper before putting it into the wash. I can personally attest to this method, because it’s what I did for the first six months of my daughter’s life. Breastmilk poop is completely water soluble and comes right off in the wash! You might have some light staining, but I never cared about that.
For older children, you can do next to nothing, as one of my friends did, by simply dumping in the toilet any poop that comes off the diaper on its own (as you lightly shake it over the toilet). The rest goes into the wash. My friend said that she very occasionally had to clean some remnants out of the drum. I also use this method every now and then, when I don’t feel like rinsing off the poop in the toilet (see #4).
Did all that gross you out? I don’t think washing cloth diapers is really significantly grosser than wiping poop off of your baby’s bottom.
What do you think? Could you do it? Do you do it? And if you do do it (cloth diaper), which method do you use?
Interested in saving lots of money by cloth diapering? Read more posts about cloth diapers HERE.
This post is part of Frugal Friday and Homemaker Mondays.