Um, But What About The Poo?

(This is article #3 in MacKenzie’s series What’s Up with Cloth Diapering? Read article 1 and article 2.)

So, after the last couple of posts on cloth diapering, you are probably wondering how you clean the sure to be nasty cloth, right? Do you have to dunk them in the toilet? Are they REALLY sanitary? Are they all stained? Do they stink? What do you do with them when you aren’t at home?

Well, I will tell you!

First of all, washing cloth diapers isn’t nearly as laborious or burdensome as everyone seems to think it is. Honestly, I spend as much time washing diapers as I did emptying the darn Diaper Genie! It really comes down to a couple of key things: 1) having enough diapers and 2) a washing routine that works for you.

I have enough diapers that I only have to wash every 2-3 days, and my routine is down to a science. I spend no more time with diaper laundry than I do regular laundry.

My process is really pretty simple: I throw the wet diapers into a lined pail (just a flip top trash can with a reusable PUL bag liner that can be found on almost any cloth diapering site) and when the pail is full, I take the bag down and empty it into a cold rinse cycle. Next I run a hot wash cycle with a couple tablespoons of natural detergent (my favorite is Country Save but another favorite of cloth diaperers is Charlie’s Soap).

If I seem to be having issues with smells, I will add about 1/4 cup of baking soda, and about 1/4 cup vinegar where the fabric softener is supposed to go. Typically, I then run an additional rinse cycle after this to make sure all the detergent is washed out, but it is not always necessary. Once a week or so I use a scoop of regular OxiClean instead of detergent to combat stains, smells and detergent build up (make sure it isn’t the “free” version though, as it has enzymes and brighteners that cause buildup in the diapers).

So there you have it! It really is that easy! Pop those babies in the dryer or out on the line and voila: fresh and clean diapers! The hot water, vinegar and baking soda work to sanitize and the detergent washes everything else away. What could be easier?

Of course, sometimes you may run into some build-up issues from diaper creams or not rinsing your dipes well enough, but those problems are usually easily fixed with a few good hot washes and a little bit of OxiClean. (If you are having issues that OxiClean and hot water won’t fix, check for remedies on a diapering forum, such as, or even feel free to e-mail me for additional suggestions).

I know what you are thinking though: what about the poo? Aww yes, the dreaded poo. Well for starters, your own kid’s poo is somehow different from anyone else’s in the world, so right off it is better than it could be!

But allow me to let you in on a little secret; it is an accessory that I bought with my first diaper stash and have been in love with ever since. It is called….the diaper sprayer! Yes my dear friends, it connects right to your toilet and quickly sprays any unwanted mess right into the bowl! And guess what, since you are simply washing the poo down the drain you don’t have any stinky mess to smell up your house! (See picture to the left.)

In all actuality, wet cloth diapers smell worlds better than wet disposables since the stench that most people associate with diapers is actually caused by the chemical reactions taking place, not the mess itself. You will also find this handy gadget useful while potty training to easily rinse out your child’s potty. I seriously couldn’t live without it. I don’t know how those disposable mamas do it! Plus, if we get right down to it, you are “technically” supposed to remove as much poo as you can even from disposable diapers, since you are not “technically” supposed to throw human waste into landfills. So you might as well just cloth diaper your kids and save a bundle of money in the process!

So now maybe I have you nearly convinced, but you still have one more burning question, “What do you do with the diapers when you are out of the house?” And guess what, I have one more brilliant answer for you! It’s called a wet bag:

These waterproof bags come in zillions of sizes and fabrics to match every mama’s style and protect everything in your diaper bag from coming in contact with a soiled diaper.

Half the time you can’t even find a decent place in public to throw away a disposable anyway, so why not just slip your dipes in your cute little washable bag and not worry about it? I must admit, a wet bag is another one of those cloth diapering accessories that I just don’t know how sposie mamas live without! I mean, wet bags are ideal for swimsuits, spit up rags, or any of the other little messes our bundles of joy constantly spew. See, cloth diapering allows us women to accessorize even more (especially fun if you have a little boy!). One more wonderful reason to jump on the band wagon!

Still not convinced? Well, let me throw these last few wonderful reasons to use cloth when diapering at you (and to offer a bit of a review), and then I will rest my case:

1. Cloth diapered children typically learn to use the potty 1-2 years earlier than children in disposables. (We started taking our son to the toilet at 1 year and he almost never pooed in a diaper anymore from 16 months on! It was glorious!)
2. You never have to worry about your child having allergic reactions to the chemicals in sposies. (Which many children do, but it is normally just attributed to being diaper rash, instead of the diaper reaction it actually is.)
3. It is WAY cheaper! Even if you buy the most expensive dipes and thoroughly accessorize yourself, you will still be saving bundles of money, especially for future children!
4. Cloth is much more comfortable. Would you like sitting around wrapped in paper all day? I mean, come on mamas, remember those post-partum days? Try that for a few years: no fun!
5. Oh yeah… the environment!
6. Cloth is just so darn CUTE! I mean, who could resist?

This post originally made its debut at MacKenzie’s personal site. Follow the rest of MacKenzie’s musings on being a birth and postpartum doula while pregnant, totschooling her son, and still finding time to knit, at Mama Kenz Studio.

3 Responses to Um, But What About The Poo?
  1. anne Ferris
    March 25, 2009 | 10:23 am

    Great series you had going here. It’s funny, because I was thinking of writing the same thing, but you got there first! I love being a cloth mama even when most people look at me like I’m crazy. I’ve convinced at least two of my friends now that it’s a great idea!

    Plus, I needed the reminder to order some more soap from Charlie.

    I am, however, curious about how your worked the poo-potty-trained deal with your kiddo. I would love to get started on that.

  2. Lindsey@A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts
    March 25, 2009 | 10:00 pm

    I need to go back through this series, I would love to read it all. :-) I totally agree that cloth diapering is more comfortable – I recently reviewed FuzziBunz and they are TOTALLY soft, so much softer than regular disposables! I think it would be worth cloth diapering just for her comfort, but I can’t bring myself to do it right now. I’m trying to work at home right now and cloth diapering would just be too much work – my house is already so hard to keep clean! I will be quitting my job eventually though so I will consider doing it then. :-)

  3. Teresa
    March 25, 2009 | 11:08 pm

    wow, you make cloth diapering sound much easier than i thought! i did by and try some bumpkins with the inserts but really felt like they were too bulky. and now we’re approaching 3 and i wish i’d stuck with the cloth diapering idea! maybe for the next one i will make more of an effort. thanks for the informative email!