So, you've thought about using cloth nappies, but you are scared of the poop? No worries! I assure you that using cloth nappies is not much grosser than changing a disposable nappy. Sometimes less awful as reusable nappies have an excellent containment level; maybe you could say goodbye to poo explosions up babies back!
Let us start with the basics;
How do you clean poop off reusable nappies?
Hold a clean corner of the nappy, dangle the nappy into the toilet bowl and flush. Don't worry; only clean water will go over your hand, but this method generally will wash off all the excess poo. Remember to hold tight as the flush will be strong, and you don't want the nappy to go down the toilet!
Other standard 'poo removing' techniques include:
- Using a handheld bidet/shower head attachment plumbed in near the toilet
- Use the showerhead to rinse the nappy into a bucket (then pour the contents of the bucket down the toilet)
- Having a dedicated 'poo knife' kept in the bathroom to scrape off the solids into the toilet.
Can you rinse cloth diapers in the sink?
Yes, you may choose to rinse the nappy/liner under the tap in a sink; if you do this, don't forget to clean your sink and its waste pipe, as even tiny amounts of poo will build up after a while. Rinsing nappies in the sink is an excellent way to prep the nappies for the nappy storage bin and reduce the smell of the nappy bucket. We always recommend a lidded nappy pail or zipped hanging nappy pail to keep the smells contained.
Our number 1 tip is to use nappy liners! Nappy liners make changing and cleaning pooey nappies quicker and easier. We have two types of nappy liners; disposable ones and reusable ones. If you choose not to use a liner, the poo will go directly onto the nappy and can sometimes be quite tricky to remove.
Reusable nappy poo removal for pre-weaned babies;
While baby is still very young, their only food is in liquid form, so liquid-in means liquid-out, making for some very runny nappies. During this phase, it is quite possible that even if you use a nappy liner, it will not contain it all. When dealing with this runny poo, we recommend rinsing the nappy under a tap before putting it in the nappy bin. Rinsing nappies before storing helps reduce stinks and reduces staining.
Our fleecy liners tend to stay in place much better than disposable ones, so we recommend fleecy liners during the pre-weaned stage.
A good thing to note is if your baby is breastfeeding, the poo is water-soluble, so technically can go in the washing machine. However, if you rinse the nappy before it goes in the nappy bin, it will help minimise any staining on the nappy that newborn poo is so fond of causing.
The only plus is that newborn/pre-weaned baby poo is not typically very smelly (unless the mother's diet is full of rich and spicy foods, these will affect the smell of the baby's poo!).
If your baby is formula-fed, their poo tends to be thicker from an earlier age, and so we highly recommend rinsing the nappy before storing it for the wash.
Note that babies do not tend to poo in their sleep, only when they wake. So if they go to bed with full bowels, remember they will fill their nappy shortly after waking. As soon as the baby poos, the nappy needs to be changed.
Reusable nappies for Weaned babies
When a baby is weaned, the poo is usually more solid, so it should be able to be picked up by the liner and 'plopped' down the toilet, meaning the nappy itself isn't usually very dirty. If the poo does get on the nappy, it'll usually be around the edges, and this is easily rinsed off before the nappy goes into the nappy bucket.
If you consistently do not rinse your nappies before putting them into the nappy bucket/pail, the nappy bin will smell pretty gross under the lid by the end of the day!
Did you know human poo isn't supposed to go into the rubbish bin, so even if you use disposable nappies, you should be removing the poo before binning ? Binning the poo also helps reduce the smell of dirty nappies in your house and ensures all faeces end up in the wastewater supply, where they are treated in a water chemical plant, in the same way adult waste is.
Can i put poop in the washing machine?
Preferably, no. It is best to dispose of all poop down the toilet.
However, if the baby is predominantly breastfed, their poo is technically water soluble. So while we would always advise rinsing a pooey nappy before washing, if it is too far gone and you are not in the mood, stick it in the wash! If you are nervous, add an extra rinse cycle to the wash to ensure all poo remnants have been well and truly washed away.
Best Nappies for good poo containment
We think our two-part nappy system, comprising a shaped, fitted nappy and a wrap, is more efficient than other nappy styles in keeping poo explosions inside the nappy and off baby's clothing. If anything manages to escape the nappy, it is contained by the waterproof wrap. Although cloth nappies, like disposable nappies, are not magic, sometimes there will be leakage; that's just the joy of looking after a baby!
Are cloth diapers reusable?
Yes, cloth diapers are reusable nappies/diapers, sometimes called 'washable nappies'. The idea of cloth nappies is to use, wash and reuse like we do with regular clothes. It is how our parents/grandparents did things because, surprising to some, disposable nappies were only invented in the last 30 years!
And the best thing, because washing machines have become so much more efficient and better at cleaning since the 1990s, we no longer have to soak the nappies. Many people will have memories of a stinky pot on the hob, soaking a bunch of terry-towelling nappies, but 'modern cloth nappies' don't need any of this. Using cloth nappies is easy; use, store, wash and repeat.
Have you ever considered that disposable nappies are a single use plastic as well? Disposable nappies are one of the biggest contributors to single-use plastic waste, the worst cause of contamination in recycling and cost councils and parents too much money whilst damaging the environment.
Do cloth diapers ruin washing machines?
No, they do not. In my opinion, modern washing machines are more powerful than people give them credit. So it is absolutely fine to wash cloth nappies in your regular washing machine, but we don't recommend washing them with clothes - learn more here.
As discussed above, what's most important is removing as much 'soiling' (we mean poo) from the nappy before putting it in the wash; this is best done right away after changing so the poo doesn't have time to solidify… Glamourous!
A good habit is giving your washing machine a drum clean once a month. In the nappy world, we recommend this to happen on the 1st of every month, as it's an easy time to remember!
How to clean your washing machine
We recommend cleaning the machine once a month. The same way you'd clean your dishwasher to remove the extra 'bits' that always end up in there.
Read the manual
Clean the parts; wipe down rims and seals. If your machine has a removable agitator, take it out to clean it.
Clean the filter; remove the filter and clean out lint and build-up
Clean the drum; choose a 90-degree clean cycle with no detergent, or use a commercial descaler if you have flakes on your laundry.
There may be some bubbles during the clean cycle; this is typical of a drum clean. Some of it is agitation, and some of it is the leftover detergent that's being cleaned during the cycle.
Can you use a shared washing machine to wash cloth nappies?
Of course, using a shared washing machine or laundromat is fine. However, you may get a couple of people questioning you doing this; we recommend being a little bit prepared with the following;
- The nappies rinsed before wash, so hardly any poo remains on them
- You will use a long wash cycle and have an extra rinse at the end
- Send them here to this page to read all the above points, that washing machines can manage a little bit of excess poop in a long cycle.
Can you wash towels with poop on them?
Yes, but just like with a nappy wash, you'll want to rinse as much excess poop off the towels before putting it into the machine. If you think the soiling is extreme, add an extra rinse cycle to the end of the wash to ensure every tiny particle of poop has been rinsed and washed away.
And finally, always use the recommended amount of detergent for your machine, load size and water hardness levels; we can't stress this enough. And always, when washing nappies, aim to use a 2 hour + long cycle.
While not a mother, mine was one of the first bums to use a LittleLamb nappy 😂 I remember lying in bed listening to my mum, dad and grandparents sewing nappies, and I remember when every spare inch of space in our house was filled to the brim with boxes and boxes of nappies before the company was big enough to hire a warehouse. Fluffy stacks of nappies, customer service and small business talk have been a constant in my life, and now at the ripe old age of 27, I know our LittleLamb products inside and out.