More often than not the biggest hang-up people have when considering cloth diapers is what to do with the poo. This is especially true for first time parents, and let me tell you I was no different when I became a mom. I’d never changed a diaper before in my life before I had kids so when books talked about sticky meconium or seedy breastfed baby poo I had no idea what that meant, and more importantly it made no sense to me that cloth diapers covered in it could go in the washing machine. Eww right?
So here you go…real photos of newborn poo in cloth diapers and full explanations of what can go in the washing machine and what needs attention (scraping, flushing etc.) before being laundered. This post is not for the faint-hearted, but boy will it all make more sense when you’re through 😉
This is the thick, dark, tarry stuff that makes up babies bowel movements for the first few days of life. Can it go straight into the washing machine without scraping or dunking? YES. It is water soluble, easily dissolve-able and washes right out of diapers. This pic is of my own newborn’s diaper and I threw it in the wash without a second thought. It came out perfectly clean. Caveat: meconium can stain your diapers and will stain natural fabrics worse than synthetics. If this bothers you, consider fleece or flushable liners for the first few days. Meconium did stain some of my diapers. This doesn’t bother me, I did nothing about it and now a few washes later the stains are gone. They fade over time with subsequent washes. TIP: meconium is quite sticky stuff. For easier cleanup, put a little cloth safe bum ointment or coconut oil on baby’s bum and wiping will be a breeze.
This is what you’ll start to see 4-5 days after baby is born. The meconium clears out and is replaced with this yellow stuff. Often described as seedy or mustard-like, this is what you will content with until baby begins to eat solids. Now, this photo represents a breastfed baby. Did this diaper go straight into the wash without scraping or dunking? YES. Once again, breastfed baby poo is water soluble, rinses easily away during a quick rinse cycle before the wash cycle, and causes no laundry problems. If you have a formula-fed baby, you’ll be dealing with a little more volume than this as formula isn’t as thoroughly digested by baby as breastmilk so use your judgement. In the first few weeks formula fed diapers will look similar in volume to this pic anyway so wash them straight away. If there is enough volume that some could be flushed, then do so before laundering or use flushable liners for easier cleanup. But the point is, don’t get overly paranoid or make things too complicated for yourself. You really shouldn’t have to do much to a dirty diaper before laundering.
Babies & Toddlers
Once baby starts solids, just keep one thing in mind. If there’s enough poo to scrape, or toss into the toilet, do so. Whatever is left on the diaper your washing machine can handle. I promise.
Stick to the simple and easy wash routine of
RINSE >> WASH >> RINSE
- A light rinse or short initial wash cycle – no detergent
- A hot wash (heavy soil and max water settings or something similar if available for your washer) – with adequate detergent for the load size
- An extra rinse if desired
- Line or machine dry on low
*No fabric softeners, dryer sheets or petroleum or zinc based rash creams
Rockin’ Green and Charlie’s Soap are my favorite soaps. I prefer Charlie’s slightly myself and it’s the only detergent we use for all our families laundry, diapers included. It’s non-toxic, hypoallergenic, Front loader/HE compatible and biodegradable. And if you’d like something to replace traditional chemical filled dryer sheets, consider re-useable dryer sheets and/or wool dryer balls. Click their links to read about their features and benefits.