Are Cloth Diapers Sanitary?


Cloth diapers are safe and sanitary as long as they are properly washed on a regular basis. You must take extra precautions when using pre-owned cloth diapers. Used cloth products must be thoroughly sanitized before use on a baby.

Though unusual, if there are ever any concerns with the diapers being contaminated with germs, bacteria, fungus, mold, or mildew, the diapers can be completely sanitized and disinfected with a 30-minute bleach soak. Fill your washing machine full of water, then add half a cup of bleach, then add the diapers and soak for 30 minutes. Do a regular wash with detergent and then rinse several times.

Alternatively you can do this disinfecting soak in your bathtub. Full the tub halfway & follow the same steps. You can be sure the cloth diapers are sanitary after this process, however it is not recommended or necessary that you use bleach on a regular basis as this can damage the diapers.

Are Cloth Diapers Gross?

Though cloth diapers are perfectly sanitary, some people wonder if it is gross to use them. This boils down to personal preference. Some people absolutely enjoy using cloth diapers on their children, some people just do it to save money, while others are concerned about the negative environmental impact of using disposable diapers. Your reason for choosing cloth will largely influence your stance on the “gross factor”.

If you use cloth diapers because you have concerns about the chemicals in disposables, then you will likely be more than willing to take the extra steps required of using cloth, such as dealing with getting the poop off the diapers, and washing them. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe the only reason you are considering cloth diapering is because you were given a stash. In this case, the thought of spraying or scraping poop off of a diaper may not seem worth while.

No matter which kind of diapers you choose, disposables or cloth, you will be wiping poop off of your baby’s bottom, so for myself, and many other cloth using mommies the “gross factor” of dealing with poop is there already, so it isn’t a big deal to get it off of the diaper too.

How To Clean Poopy Cloth Diapers

There are a few different ways to deal with getting the poop off of cloth diapers.
Thankfully, if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, then you don’t have to worry about what to do with the poop at all. Poop from exclusively breastfed babies is water soluble, and will totally dissolve in the washing machine. Simply throw the soiled diapers into your diaper pail until laundry day, and then toss them into the washing machine & let the it do all the work.

Once you begin to introduce solid foods to your child, the poop will change and you will likely be dealing with a stickier, thicker consistency that cannot be thrown into the wash. During this stage, it can be difficult or impossible to just plunk the contents of the diaper into the toilet.

Some people actually dunk, swish, scrub, & wring out the diapers in the toilet. I don’t have any experience with this method because that does actually gross me out. Sorry dunkers! Whatever works though, right?

For those of you pleading for another way, do not despair. Look no further than The SprayMate cloth diaper sprayer with splatter shield. The sprayer connects to your toilet, and clean water runs through the hose and out of the high pressure water nozzle, which you then use to blast poop off of the diapers into the toilet. If that sounds a bit intimidating or messy to you, just watch their demonstration video. Simple & no mess or splatter. The SprayMate is also very multipurpose, so it’s well worth the investment, especially if you do not like the sound of the next option, the poop spatula.

This ingenuous tool, much like the SprayMate, is used to get the poop off of the diaper & into the toilet. However, unlike its SprayMate counterpart, the poop spatula is NOT multipurpose. Any old spatula will do. Simply scrape the poo into the toilet. Alternatively, you could just use a piece of toilet paper to do this, or the diaper itself.

Personally, once I find myself dealing with these major “gross” messes, I very promptly begin to teach the children to go in the toilet, rather than in their diaper, which is really the best way to deal with the poop, and not gross at all.

It seems anecdotally that cloth diapered children potty train sooner. I think the incentive of not having to deal with poopy cloth diapers, helps me to teach my children to go on the potty chair as soon as possible. The other reason they train quickly is because they actually feel wet when they go in their cloth, unlike disposables, which keep them feeling dry. This helps them realize that it is much more comfortable to go potty & poop in the toilet.

If cloth diapering could shorten the time it takes you to potty train your child, then that is even less “gross” you will have to deal with in the long run! I always reach a point where I’m just DONE dealing with poopy bottoms, whether they are wrapped in cloth or disposables. I think it’s pretty clear that the poop is what is gross, not the diapering method.

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