Handling a baby's poop is never going to be a favorite part of parenting, but it comes with the territory. If you're using disposable diapers, changing baby isn't that complicated, but all that waste is going to the landfills. For the more environmentally-conscious parents who cloth diapers, there are a few extra things to keep in mind.
Obviously, you want to keep your baby as clean and comfortable as possible, you want the process to be as easy as possible, and you want to keep your cloth diapers fresh-smelling and useable for as long as possible. Let's go over some tips and ideas to make the cloth diapering experience stress-free and easy!
The Sooner the Better
The most important thing to know about cloth diapers and poop is that you need to clean them as soon as possible after each use. Otherwise, the stains and odors will set and be very difficult to remove. Whichever method you choose for dealing with poop, be sure to rinse or spray off the solid waste before putting the diaper in the laundry.
Spray it Away
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One method for removing solid waste from the diaper is to use a diaper sprayer. These devices (which might also be called handheld bidets) attach to your toilet by connecting the water line with a flexible hose. The sprayer on the end of the hose has powerful water pressure so you can spray the solid waste right into the toilet. Afterwards, you can place the diaper into your diaper pail until washing day. By removing the waste, you will greatly cut down on the smell while the diapers wait to be washed and will also help keep the diapers free of stains.
The alternatives to a sprayer are not that great and some parents resort to swirling the diaper around in the toilet which, let's face it, doesn't sound fun or sanitary!
Line(r) It Up!
Another great way to deal with poopy cloth diapers is to use a disposable diaper liner. These handy sheets are made of biodegradable materials (usually bamboo) and are sold in rolls like paper towels. They are designed to let the liquid pass through and capture any solids. You can place them into the diaper and then just deposit the whole liner into your toilet and flush it away.
There are also washable liners, usually made out of microfleece, that you can rinse off with your sprayer and then place with the diapers in the pail for wash day. Some parents think these are softer than the disposable ones against baby's skin. If you are interested in crafts and DIY projects, there are many tutorials online about making these liners yourself!
Whether you decide on disposable or washable, using a liner will definitely prolong the life of your cloth diapers and will make cleaning them much easier.
Plan to wash dirty diapers every 2-3 days
This may feel a LOT of laundry, but you’re dealing with wet and smelly diapers, you just don't want to wait longer than this. Doing so would risk staining, bacteria, and mildew and that would lead to even more wash cycles.
Wash no more than 12 to 18 cloth diapers at a time Run them through a cold cycle first
Your baby is going to go through a lot of diapers (8-10 a day) so make sure you have at least double that on hand at all times. Try to have a laundry schedule planned out so that you are not overloading your washing machine and that you always have plenty of clean diapers on hand and ready to go.
Run them through a cold cycle first
If your machine has a a pre-rinse or “speed wash” cycle, use that first with cold water and NO detergent. This will get get rid of any waste clinging to the diaper and will greatly help with stains.
Next, run them through a hot cycle
Now you can get serious about getting them clean with HOT water and detergent that is specially formulated for cloth diapers. Some parents like to add some baking soda at this point to help with odors and stains. Some also swear by some lemon juice for a whitening agent! A tiny bit of vinegar can be added too to help with odors. Try not to use bleach or fabric softeners as they can break down the diapers and make them less absorbent.
If you really want to go that extra mile, go ahead and run the diapers through and extra rinse cycle at this point. The more they are rinsed, the cleaner they will be...
Hang them out to dry
If you have the outside space, hanging your cloth diapers to dry in the sun is a great way to deal with stains and odors. The bleaching agents of the sun keeps the diapers white and bright and really helps rid the diapers of any lingering bacteria.
If you use a dryer, be sure to keep it set to a medium or low setting--drying them on a high setting is too harsh. Just know that using a dryer regularly will ultimately cut down on the life of your diapers.
Stripping Cloth Diapers
Stripping diapers is a technique that can be done from time to time to really give your diapers a thorough cleaning and remove (strip!) and buildup that has accumulated over time.
Sometimes detergents and minerals from the water can build up and stay on the diapers so if you feel like your diapers just aren't getting as clean as they used to or if they are smelling bad despite washing or are losing absorbency--it might be time to strip.
Purchase a laundry treatment designed for diaper stripping and set your machine for HOT water. Do not add detergent and make sure you are using diapers that have already been cleaned. Then just run the diapers through as usual. This can be repeated monthly, if necessary.
Using cloth diapers may not be the easiest way, but for the determined parent, keeping your cloth diapers fresh and clean.