You’ve carefully picked out your cloth diapers. The changing table is ready for your new baby to arrive. As you proudly admire the nursery, you wonder “where will I put baby’s dirty cloth diapers?”
You can store dirty cloth diapers in a wet bag or in a diaper pail with a cloth pail liner. Plastic laundry baskets with holes also work if you need a storage solution immediately. These storage containers should be kept in cool dry areas. Breastfed baby diapers can be put straight in without any storage prep. Babies eating solid food should have their poop knocked into the toilet, then the diapers can be stored in these containers.
It really is easy to store your dirty cloth diapers without the accompanying stink. After we demystify a few cloth diapering terms, the thought of dirty diapers won’t be so scary.
Where to Store Dirty Cloth Diapers
Each parent has their own favorite way to store dirty diapers. There isn’t one right way to do it. You can use what you have on hand, or purchase something that better fits your needs. With each of these options, it’s as simple as tossing your diapers in.
Wet bags are the swiss army knives of dirty diaper storage. These bags do the duty of a traditional diaper pail and the disposable garbage bag. These wet bags usually hold 12 to 24 dirty diapers. They are made to be mostly waterproof. PUL, or polyurethane laminate, is the material used to keep the moisture in the bag.
Wet bags typically have a zippered top and a loop to hang them over doorknobs. This is a great choice if you are limited in floor space. They are also easily moved from the nursery to the living room for convenient diaper changes. You only need 2 to store dirty diapers full time.
Diaper Pail with a Diaper Liner
A more traditional option is to use a diaper pail. Diaper pails are excellent for keeping in the stink and easy for other caregivers, like grandparents and babysitters to use. Instead of using disposable diaper pail garbage bags, opt for the cloth version. You will save tons of money reusing your washable cloth pail liners.
Cloth diaper pail liners are made out of PUL like their wet bag counterparts. The difference is that pail liners usually have a drawstring opening so that they can fit around the rims of diaper pails.
Not every diaper pail, however, seamlessly works with cloth liners. In general, diaper pails that have a sizable capacity and that don’t use single-use bags are a prerequisite. Some pails that can be easily used with cloth diaper liners are Dekor Plus, Ubii diaper pail, and the Safety 1st diaper pail.
Sometimes the easiest option is to just use what you have on hand. Plain kitchen garbage cans are a great substitute for expensive diaper pails. Simple Human garbage cans are stellar at containing smells and are easy to clean. Use a cloth pail liner for these garbage cans.
Plastic laundry bins are also very inexpensive to use. They wipe clean and you don’t need a liner. The downside is that they don’t contain smells well. These are ok if you have nothing on hand, but you will later want to upgrade to a more permanent solution.
How do I keep my cloth diapers from smelling?
Even though cloth diapers are easy to use, there are a few things you need to consider before storing your dirty cloth diapers. This will ensure that your diapers aren’t stinky enough to raise the dead.
Prep Diapers Before Storing Them
Poop should never go into your wet bag or diaper pail. For babies eating solid food, you can shake the poop into the toilet. To make this even easier, consider getting a diaper sprayer. Diaper sprayers attach to your toilet and have a small shower head nozzle to help clean baby’s diaper.
Diaper liners also make cleaning easier. The liners are a thin piece of fabric that you can lay inside the diaper to catch poop. Poop slides off these liners like butter. If you are traveling, disposable diaper liners are the way to go. Lay them on top of the diaper. Once baby has a bowel movement, remove the liner with the poop on it and flush. Your dirty diaper can now be stored sans poop.
Breastfed poop is the easiest to deal with. This poop is actually water-soluble. It will completely dissolve in your washing machine. This mustard-like poop isn’t as smelly as poop from babies eating solid food. Toss these diapers into your wet bag without pre-rinsing them.
Have a Regular Wash Routine
The easiest way to prevent your house from smelling like a ripe landfill is to wash your cloth diapers regularly. Cloth diapers should never go beyond 3 days without being washed. A washing routine of every other day should clear up any issues of ammonia build-up or stench. You might be able to push it to every 3 days.
You will sense that ammonia is building up in baby’s diapers because the Windex like smell is unmistakable. This also causes problems when the ammonia isn’t properly rinsed out of the diapers. The remaining ammonia dries in the “clean” diaper and is reawakened with the tiniest bit of moisture. In short, don’t slack off on your washing routine.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place
The last tip is to keep your dirty diapers in a cool, dry location. Your sunroom in Florida is not the most ideal spot for your diaper pail. A relatively cool spot helps to reduce bacteria growth. You don’t want to provide optimum conditions for all sorts of other life forms to grow on your diaper. This will just make laundering them harder. The cooler the location, the longer you can stretch the time between your washing days.
Dirty cloth diapers already come with an abundance of moisture. Your job is to keep the outside conditions as dry as possible. Mold and mildew won’t have a chance to grow if you can do this. Discovering moldy, mildewed diapers is a fast way to receive unwarranted advice from well-meaning in-laws.
What do you do with dirty diapers when traveling?
Purchase a smaller, travel-sized wet bag. These smaller wet bags hold 2-4 dirty diapers. Keep at least one of these in your diaper bag to change baby on the go. In addition, consider buying disposable liners to make clean up in a public restroom easier. You won’t miss your diaper sprayer if you equip your diaper bag with this secret weapon.
Follow the same tips above to keep your travel wet bag decent smelling. Remove any solid poop. Try to stay as close to your wash routine as possible. You might have less room for error while traveling. In your suitcase, you can pack a regular-sized wet bag to store dirty cloth diapers when you have reached your destination.
Remember to place the wet bags in a cool, dry place. Your diaper bag wet bag should be washed each time it receives a dirty diaper. Dirty wet bags will stink up your entire diaper bag if left there overnight.