How to clean cloth diapers with poop

How to clean cloth diapers with poop

If you are a new parent, then you have probably been introduced to the world of cloth diapering. Cloth diapering can be a great way to save money and help the environment, but it can also be a bit daunting to clean. If you have ever had to deal with poopy diapers, then you know that it can be tricky to get rid of all of it.

In this blog post, we will teach you how to clean dirty diapers with poop so that you can keep your little one happy and your diapers clean!

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

cloth diaper

Proper laundering is essential for keeping your cloth diapers sanitary, absorbent and long-lasting. Getting them optimally clean means avoiding ammonia build-up. This build-up can harm the material, cause odors and lead to more frequent diaper rashes, too.

There are 4 basic steps for washing cloth diapers - Pre-Wash, Wash, Rinse and Dry. How you put these steps into practice depends on what type of cloth diapers you use, what cloth cleaning tools you have in your arsenal, and your baby's age.

Prior to the baby's first use

This is an important step prior to the baby’s first use, so follow the pre-wash or prep accordingly to the manufacturer's instructions closely. If you’re using more than one brand, note how their initial care may differ depending on whether they are synthetic-based or made of natural fibers.

Pre-wash, cleaning cloth diapers after the diaper leaves the baby's bum

Prewashing is for reducing the stain and stink on your cloth diapers and making sure your washer isn't full of soiled water.

cloth diaper

What to do if there is no poop on the diapers

If there is no poop, some parents throw the poopy diapers into a ventilated dry pail with a pail liner until it's time to wash. The pail liners are great because most of them are machine washable so you can dump the diapers in the wash and then throw the liner in the load too.

What to do if your baby poops while wearing a cloth diaper

Cleaning cloth diapers with poop is not difficult. First, follow these simple steps to change your baby:

  1. Lift your baby's bottom-up gently and remove the soiled diaper as quickly as possible. If possible, try to do this over a waterproof surface. Set the soiled diaper aside.

  2. Rinse the diaper area with warm water. You can also use wet reusable toilet paper or diaper wipes to clean your baby's bottom. Be sure to get in all the cracks and crevices!

  3. Once your baby is clean, pat dry and put a new cloth diaper on them and fasten it securely.

  4. Next, clean the poop off the dirty diaper and clothes

Next, you will want to rinse the diaper pretty quickly after the change. Trust me, you don't want to be dealing with scrubbing dried poop later.

When baby is exclusively breastfed:

breast feed

When baby's only food is breast milk, poop removal is easy. This is because breastfed baby poo is water-soluble. Simply rinse the dirty diapers in your bathroom sink and toss them into the diaper pail.

When baby has solid poo, use a diaper sprayer for pre-rinsing:

When baby starts eating solids or for formula-fed babies with solid poop, pre-rinsing soiled diapers can help prevent stinky diapers. You can use a special sprayer that hooks onto the toilet to rinse the waste away. Diaper sprayers can help make cloth diapering easier.

Here are the steps on cleaning cloth diapers with poop using a diaper sprayer for babies who have solid poops:

  1. First, preliminary steps. Time is of the essence when dealing with fresh poop, so it's important to act quickly. Have everything you need gathered and within reach before you start. You'll need gloves, a spray bottle or diaper sprayer, detergent, OxiClean (for stains), Water Softener, Dirty laundry basket.

  2. Once you have everything, it's time to get down to business. Start by putting on your gloves.

  3. Then, lift the toilet seat and shake the poop into the toilet bowl using a poop spatula.

  4. Turn on the t-valve of your diaper sprayer

  5. Pre-rinse the dirty diapers thoroughly. Make the diaper face the direction away from you and rinse away all the poop (Pre-rinsing soiled diapers helps prevent smelly diapers).

  6. Once all the poop has been rinsed, place it in your cloth diaper dry pail or a wet bag until it's time to wash.

  7. Turn off the t-valve of your diaper sprayer (This is very important to help prevent any risk of flooding)

If you don't have a diaper sprayer, you may want to use a water pail.

Another way to remove excessive solids using the “dunk and swirl” method in the toilet.

Another option is to use diaper liners. Diaper liners are designed to sit in the containment zone of the baby's diaper to catch the mess. Disposable liners can be thrown straight into the trash. Just know that if the poop is too mushy, it can spread outside the liner so you might still need to rinse the edges of the diaper after taking the liner off.

Bidet Sprayer for Poop
Buy PurrfectZone Stainless Steel Cloth Diaper Sprayer or


On your wash day, once all your cloth diapers and inserts are ready to be washed, throw them into your washing machine and do a rinse cycle with a little bit of detergent like Tide. Don't wash the cloth diapers with regular laundry.

cloth diaper

Machine wash 20-30 diapers at a time. How often you end up doing a load is up to you but a lot of parents find it harder to remove stains or residual smells if they waited to wash longer than 3 or 4 days.

The type of cloth diaper you choose can play a big role in how frequently you need to wash. For example, flats and pre-folds or fitted cloth diapers are designed to be simple to remove from their covers and wash separately. You don't need to wash the diaper cover. Meanwhile, pocket diapers, all-in-one, or hybrid cloth diapers require you to wash the entire thing every time.

If end up using velcro diapers be sure to always check that the fold-back tabs are secured before washing so that you don't end up with a big chain of diapers stuck together or having the velcro catch a bunch of lint.

Now, on to what you wash your cloth diapers with - some ingredients leave a residue that can affect the absorbency of diapers over time. In order to have a clean diaper, and protect your cloth diaper investment and your baby's skin, you might want to avoid any product with a harsh chemical such as - Enzymes, Brighteners, Dyes, Fragrances, Fabric Softeners, dryer sheets, and Bleach. One important note to remember: don’t use fabric softeners. They can lead to deposits that propagate bacterial growth and ammonia retention.

Some parents take the DIY detergent route and use baking soda for a brightness boost or vinegar or lemon juice to help with the smell and rubber or wool dryer balls to help with softness and cut down on drying time.

When it comes to the wash cycle, lots of parents like to start the rinse with cold water to really help fight stains and then switch to warm or hot water to get the diapers as clean as can be.

Some parents prefer not to do a hot cycle and instead choose to do a regular cycle with cold water, detergent, and some OxiClean after the rinse cycle.

Every once in a while, you can also add a water softener like Calgon. This helps to prevent buildup in the diapers, not retain residue and prevent leaks. Your diapers will last 2-3 hours as they as supposed to without leaking. Rinsing is next.


This step is optional. The goal is to be sure you have cleared all the lingering detergent out. Take a good look at the diaper and give them a sniff test to see what they need. If they do end up needing another rinse, know that some parents just run an extra rinse cycle and that does the trick.

However, if you have hard water at home, you might want to skip the extra rinse step. Hard water has a lot of minerals that can build up in your diapers over time.



When it comes to drying cloth diapers a lot of parents simply the wet diapers in the dryer on low heat. The low heat setting is important to prevent any damage to the elastics, snaps, or waterproof linings.

You might also want to hang the diaper shells outside to prevent any dryer damage. You can throw the diaper inserts in the dryer. If you live in a warm place, they will dry fast if you hang them outside. Keep an eye on them because if it's too hot outside, the sun can damage the shells.

Once the dryer cycle is complete, let each diaper component cool before folding or stretching them in any way. This ensures you maintain the integrity of the waterproof laminate and the elastic with each cleaning cycle.

Then give yourself a pat on the back - you did it!

Cloth diapering when traveling

Have you ever been minimum an hour away from home with a kid who just made a messy poop in their diaper? And, to top it off, you're clad in your nicest clothes for the day. Make sure, your diaper bag has clean diapers, an extra change of clothes, and a wet bag.


If your baby's only food is breast milk, poop removal is easy. This is because breastfed poo is water-soluble. Simply rinse the dirty diaper in the bathroom sink and toss it into the wet bag.

If your baby eats solid food, here's a guide on how to clean the poop:

  1. First, lay them down on a clean, dry surface. If the poop has gotten onto their clothes as well, gently remove the soiled clothing and set it aside.

  2. Now it's time to tackle the poop. The best way to do this is to first use a wet wipe to clean up as much as possible. Then, take a clean, damp cloth and finish the job. Once everything is clean and dry, you can put your baby's clothes back on and continue on your way.

  3. If you are using diaper liners, toss it into the trash. Otherwise, flush the poop into the toilet and save the dirty diaper in a wet bag.

  4. When you get back home, be sure to pre-rinse the soiled diaper with a diaper sprayer and toss it into the diaper pail.

10 Tips for preventing cloth diapering poop accidents in the first place

cloth diaper

Here are ten tips for preventing cloth diapering poop accidents in the first place:

  1. Check the fit of your diapers regularly. If they're too loose, they're more likely to leak.

  2. Make sure you change your baby's diaper regularly. A good rule of thumb is to check it every two to three hours.

  3. Pay attention to your baby's cues that they may need to be changed. If they start to squirm or cry, it may be time for a change.

  4. Invest in some good-quality diapers that fit well and don't leak. This will help minimize the chances of an accident happening.

  5. Be prepared for accidents by having a changing station set up and keeping a spare set of clothes close by. Be sure to always travel with your diaper bag.

  6. If you notice that your baby is having a lot of bowel movements, or if they appear to be constipated, try different types of food or treatments.

  7. Eliminate any potential food allergies or sensitivities.

  8. Make sure you're using the right absorbency for your baby's needs. Use more absorbent materials at night or during long naps.

  9. Empty solid waste into the toilet as soon as possible after a diaper change. This will help prevent leaks and stains.

  10. Use a water-softer like Calgon once every other wash cycle to make the fabric leakproof.

Alternatives to cloth diapering for babies who poop a lot

Are you looking for an alternative to traditional cloth diapers for your baby? If your little one struggles with frequent diaper rash or leakage, you may want to consider investing in a different type of diaper. Here are a few great options for babies who poop a lot.

  1. One option is to use cloth diapers with flushable liners. A disposable liner can be tossed directly into the toilet and flushed away. Disposable liners eliminate the need to wash the diaper every time your baby poops, but you still get the benefits of using cloth.

  2. Another alternative is to use disposable diapers. They may be more expensive but will save you time and energy in the long run. Don't feel guilty about using disposable diapers once in a while.

  3. Another alternative is to use a potty chair. Be prepared for some accidents to happen before they are fully trained.

  4. Finally, you could use a diaper service. Diaper services will wash and deliver fresh diapers to your door, so all you have to do is put them on your baby.

Top 10 time-saving tips & tricks for washing cloth diapers

Don’t be scared of washing cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are really dirty laundry…that is all. Wading through all the information can be overwhelming and confusing, but don’t despair! Once you understand how to wash cloth diapers properly this becomes much easier.

Here are ten time-saving tips to help you stay ahead of the game:

  1. Have a solid routine...
    The most important thing you can do to save time with your diaper laundry is to have a solid routine. Once you have a solid routine, stick with it. Wash your diapers every other day or at least every 2-3 days.
    This will help to keep your load size not too big and help not make your diapers sit too long. The best way to prevent mold is to wash your diapers every two to three days.
  2. Start your diaper laundry at a time that is going to set you up for success.

    For example, if you are a working parent and need to do laundry, you may want to take care of the diapers as soon as you get home from the daycare before you start to do any other activities. It is so easy to get sidetracked with a lot of things when you are a parent so it's best to get the laundry started first.
    Don't start diaper laundry too late. If you are a stay-at-home parent, it actually makes sense to do diaper laundry in the morning because then you can put the nighttime diaper in with your laundry.

  3. Air circulation

    If you’re using an enclosed diaper pail or sealed bag for soiled diapers, leave the lid partly open or the zipper unzipped to maximize airflow. This will lessen ammonia build-up and make the diapers easier to clean.

  4. Don’t overload your washing machine.

    An overfilled washer will not clean properly and you will waste time. Overloading your washing machine will also lead to edge wear. If you have a HE front loader, your maximum load size is probably going to be 18 diapers plus all the accessories like the inserts, cloth wipes, and wet bags.
    Another thing for high-efficiency machines is that you might need to add some clean wet hand towels with your load so that it adds enough water.

  5. Longest available wash cycle

    Use the longest available wash cycle that agitates, spins, and drains. If it isn’t doing all these things, it’s kind of a waste. The longer agitation allows the detergent and machine to do their job. This might be the heavy-duty cycle with hot water. For instance, if you have a heavily soiled option on your machine, use it.

  6. The optimal amount of detergent...

    Use the right amount of detergent to save time. If you use too much detergent, you will need to do extra rinses. Soft water requires a little less and hard water requires a little more. We recommend that you start with the same amount of detergent for cloth diapers that you would use for the same size load of heavily soiled clothing.
    One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to detergent amounts is not actually measuring. You could be using way less or way more than you think.  And using more than you need can cause just as many issues. Use the included scoop or lid and measure! If you have hard water and find that you are getting stink issues…try adding a little more detergent to the main wash cycle and see if it makes a difference.
    If you know you have soft water try using more detergent amounts in the prewash and less in the main wash. That gives it more of a chance to rinse out as that is the issue with soft water and laundry. To really boost cleaning, add a small scoop of baking soda to your detergent.

  7. Add a wool dryer ball to the dryer.

    They can cut the dry time down by 25 percent! This saves you time and also leads to less wear and tear on the diaper material. Dryer balls are fabulous for saving drying time. They help fluff your laundry so it dries faster.

  8. In regards to drying cloth diapers...

    If you prefer to dry your diapers naturally, you can save time by using the dryer for 15 minutes on low heat with dryer balls and then using the drying rack for anything with elastics and water-proof material. You can then use medium heat for the inserts and pre-folds to save time drying them.
    Place your drying rack right above an air vent to speed up the drying process. Also, place your laundry strategically on the drying rack. For example, if you are drying inside your house, place the heavy items on the bottom racks near the air vent.
    If you are drying outside, put the heavier items on the top racks so that they get more sunshine. Also, spread out the cloth diapers as much as possible to increase drying speed.

  9. Simplify your stash

    Choose your favorite type of cloth diaper and simplify your stash. If you have a lot of different types of diapers, it can take a lot of time to sort and organize what goes with which diaper.

  10. Accept help

    If your spouse wants to help, accept it. Don't worry about ruining your precious diapers.

In Conclusion

Cloth diaper care can take some getting used to, but you’ll soon master proper washing techniques and develop a system that works for your family. Plus, you will feel secure in making a decision that is better for both the Earth and your baby. 

There is no ONE right way to clean cloth diapers. Clean cloth diapers are dependent on many different factors including water type, washing machine type, detergent, type of cloth diapers being washed, and the wash routine itself. Because of this, there are many ways that will work even with the same exact machine.

Following the simple steps outlined in this blog can help you get the poop off the diaper and clothes quickly and easily, and keep your baby clean and comfortable. Additionally, we have talked about some tips to help prevent poop accidents in the first place. We have also mentioned some tips for cleaning up after a baby poop accident in a cloth diaper.

As with anything in life, you may have to research and experiment a little to find what will work best for you and your family. Stay safe and have fun!


Q1: Can you put poopy cloth diapers in the washing machine?

Washing your cloth diaper in the washing machine is safe, but make sure you don't mix it with other clothing items. It's also highly important you wash off soiled diapers before adding them to the machine. It's best if you give them a quick rinse immediately after they are soiled.

Q2: How do you clean poopy cloth diapers without a sprayer?

Here are a few options if you don't have a diaper sprayer:

The first option is to use diaper liners. Diaper liners are designed to sit in the containment zone of the baby's diaper to catch the mess. Disposable liners can be thrown straight into the trash. Just know that if the poop is too mushy, it can spread outside the liner so you might still need to rinse the edges of the diaper after taking the liner off.

The second option to remove excessive solids is using the “dunk and swirl” method in the toilet. You dunk it in your toilet bowl and you swish it around. Be sure to hold on to your diaper when you flush the toilet.

The third way is to use a designated spatula scrape. All you need to do is scrape off the poop off and get it into the toilet bowl.

Q3: How do you get the poop out of a diaper?

There's no sugar-coating it - diaper duty can be a pretty stinky business. But dealing with a soiled diaper doesn't have to be a headache. In fact, with a little know-how, you can make the whole process pretty simple. So, how do you get the poop out of a diaper?

Here are a few methods that experts recommend:

The first thing you'll want to do is don a pair of rubber gloves. This will protect your hands from any bacteria that may be present in the feces. Once you're gloved up, gently remove the soiled diaper from your baby and place it in the toilet. If there is a lot of feces, you may need to use a spoon or spatula to help remove it all. Then, simply flush away.

Then use a spray bottle full of water or a diaper sprayer (a small showerhead that attaches to your toilet) to rinse away as much residue as you can. Rinsing the diaper with water is key to helping stains come out in the wash. If there is only a small amount of stool present, you can try using toilet paper to wipe it away. If the stool is particularly stubborn, you may need to moisten the toilet paper with water before attempting to wipe it away.

Q4: How do you get rid of the barnyard smell?

Clean cloth diapers should NOT smell. If you smell anything yucky out of the washer, dryer, or immediately after a child urinates, there is a problem. Here are a few things to try:

  • Clean your washing machine on a regular basis. We can’t expect a filthy machine to get other stuff clean, right? Clean it no more than every 3 months or so and it’s good to go.

  • Do a hot wash with hot water for both the prewash and main wash (up to 125 degrees is safe).

  • Increase agitation. That can be done with longer wash cycles, especially for the prewash.

  • To really boost cleaning, add a small scoop of baking soda to your detergent.

  • Don’t use a fabric softener

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