Okay, so you’ve researched the type of diapers that you want and have purchased them . . . you may even have them tucked away or neatly folded into your baby’s diaper closet, changing table, bins or wherever.  Now the questions linger about the storage of soiled diapers between washings.  Thoughts like, “Should I use a wet or dry pail?” or “What do I do with the diaper before throwing it in the pail?”

Well, we hope to make those tasks seem as easy as they are by giving you a simple breakdown that includes a couple of recommendations for a Washing Machine Diaper Storage that alleviates the need for a diaper pail completely and some On-The-Road tips!   Oh, and of course, you will need to know what to do ‘Before You Pail It!’

Understand that your family will develop a  ‘unique’ system over time as you discover what works for you and your given space and time.  Maybe you wash every day, or every two days.  Maybe you have your own washer or dryer . . . or maybe you are in an apartment and need to use a laundry-mat.  You could have a washer and no dryer and line-dry either outside or hang-dry throughout the house/apartment.  Fact is, no two homes will function the same and you will naturally lean toward one method above the other.  Our goal is to offer you a few solutions/suggestions and let you choose what you’d like to ‘start with’ in your own personal approach.

 


Before you Pail It:

Obviously, there is a process between baby soiling the diaper and that diaper making its way into a pail.  But it doesn’t have to be much.  We are not huge advocates of diaper rinsing before pailing.  We didn’t do it regularly – don’t plan on doing it with future children – haven’t suffered stains as a result of NOT doing it.  What we prefer to do is to change our babies and shake off any ‘remains’ that might be in the diaper into the toilet.  If it doesn’t fall off, it will come off easily in the wash.  After that, we may pre-treat what looks to be a particularly difficult stain with Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator before throwing the diaper, cover (if the cover has been soiled) and cloth baby wipe into the diaper pail or washing machine.

Yes, you can believe that gone are the days of ‘swirling’ your diapers regularly in the toilet – let your washing machine do the work!

The only instance where this SHOULD NOT BE the case is when you have a sick child or if/when your child has immunizations.  At that point, it is a good idea to ‘dunk’ diapers into the toilet to cleanse before throwing them in a diaper pail  (and may we suggest that if you do not use gloves to protect yourself from the bacteria/active virus in the loose stools/diarrhea, that you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards).  When a child is sick, a good amt. of the bacteria, along with remnants of medicine, etc. . . comes out via their stool.  After a child has been vaccinated it is essential that you take care in handling their stool.  This is especially important if your child has recently received vaccinations.


Diaper Pail Choices:

  • Dry Pail Soiled Diaper Storage

  • Wet Pail Soiled Diaper Storage

  • Washing Machine Soiled Diaper Storage


Dry Pail Soiled Diaper Storage

Supplies needed:

  • Any pail/container with a lid.

I prefer the flip-top lidded trash cans (seen at the top of this page) which can be purchased from any local bargain store/super center.  Since it is a DRY PAIL that we are talking about, there is no need for a lid that seals, because it does not pose the dangers of drowning that a WET PAIL does.  The only threat to a  child that finds their way into this pail is singed nose hairs.  If you choose a 20 to 24 qt. pail, it will easily hold two days worth of diapers.  Storing soiled diapers for more than 2 days is never recommended, so this method kept me on my toes!

  • Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator for pre-treating any stains that look particularly daunting.

  • Nylon Tote to fit your pail.

Nylon Totes are reusable, washable, water-resistant and hardy – and therefore, easy on the environment and your budget.  You could use plastic bags, but you would need to throw them away each time you emptied the pail.  The Nylon Totes can be thrown in with the diapers to wash and hung inside-out to dry on a cupboard knob, the clothesline, the back of a chair – wherever.  If at a laundry-mat, they can be thrown into the dryer for a few minutes for a ‘quick-dry,’ but it is not recommended to leave them in there for more than 10 minutes!

We have used the nylon totes both in our diaper bags and in our diaper pail.  The large nylon tote fits easily into our 20 qt. flip-top lidded trash can and we keep (2) to rotate between washings.  Their simple design with pull-string and toggle makes dry pailing simple at washing time. Just pull up on the drawstring closing the tote, pull it out and transport it to the washing machine (be it in your home or at the laundry-mat).  Wash it with the diapers and you can use it to transport your diapers back to the folding area or home (if you are washing at a laundry-mat).  We love things that pull ‘double-duty!’

Any waterproof, water-resistant or laminated bag serves this purpose well.  You will want to avoid a cotton or woven bag, because it will absorb the moisture from the soiled diapers, retain smell and will require you to clean your diaper pail, along with the diaper tote, after each use.  Plus, any woven, cotton-based, or even canvas-based, cover may potentially stain.  We have been told that the nylon draw-string sacks that hold sleeping bags have been used and can be found in the camping area at any ‘outdoors’ store.

Optional Dry-Pail Supplies for Dry Pail ‘smells’:

  • Tea Tree or Lavender  Essential Oils- A couple of drops on a paper towel or rag thrown into the dry pail can help eliminate a good amount of the ammonia-like odor.  You can find Essential Oils at your local Whole Foods or Natural Foods Store . . . usually near the fresh herbs.
  • Fabric Softener Sheets – Although we do not recommend the use of Fabric Softener sheets in the dryer when drying diapers (or for clothes, for that matter) . . . if you lay one of these on top of your diapers, it can help ward off strong smells.  Try to stick with more baking soda based softener sheets.  The more perfume it has, the more likely it will interact negatively with the ammonia smell of urine and you will have created a worse smell than you started with initially.

  • Baking Soda – Sprinkle 1/4 cup of baking soda in the bottom of your pail and add a sprinkle here and there on the top when you feel the smell is getting strong.

Another way to prevent dry pail smells is to rinse your diapers thoroughly before ‘pailing’ them.  We did not do this and did not feel that we suffered terribly from a smelly diaper pail (although if you stick your nose down in there . . . well, you deserve the whiff that you get).  However, if you will rinse out your diapers after changing, a good deal of the smell will be alleviated.  In this case, the only add’l ‘supplies you might need is a pair of waterproof gloves to protect your hands (and only if you are a bit squeamish about putting your hands into a toilet or around a soiled diaper).  I did not regularly use gloves – just washed my hands thoroughly after diaper changes.

When using our  In-House Washing Method, we also did not often experience problems with staining.  The few times staining did occur, it was easy enough to alleviate with a cold soak in baking soda overnight and line-drying in the sun!  However, if you are concerned about leaving diapers for even two days in a dry pail without pre-treating, try one of the following AFTER rinsing your diapers and before putting them in the dry pail.

  • Spray a solution of 1/2 distilled white vinegar and 1/2 distilled water on the soiled area.  This will keep a stain from setting in.

  • Squirt some Bac-Out Enzyme Stain Remover (made by Bi-O-Kleen to pre-treat stains as the live enzyme cultures can safely, naturally and effectively eat away at any/all organic waste.)


Wet Pail Soiled Diaper Storage

Supplies needed:

  • Any waterproof, lidded container that can SEAL!

With wet pails it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that you choose a diaper pail that has a tight lid that seals/locks.  I cannot express this enough.  The danger is that curious children can easily fall HEAD FIRST into these pails and drown.  It HAS happened and it is something you MUST consider before bringing a wet pail system into your home.

When using a wet pail, you do not need any type of nylon liner.  You should fill the diaper pail about 1/4 of the way with water and then, you can add any of the following to help ‘pre-treat’ and soak possible stains and to cut down on diaper pail odor:

  • 2 or 3 squirts of Bac-Out Enzyme Stain Remover

  • 1/4 cup vinegar (also neutralizes urine)

  • 1/4 cup Borax

  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda or A&H Washing Soda

  • 3 drops of Tea Tree Oil

Do not add detergent in with the water in your wet pail.  This is harsh on your diapers and will wear them down over time. Detergent was never intended to be a soaking agent.  DO NOT ADD CHLORINE BLEACH . . . this will eat away at your diaper’s fibers and render them useless for absorption, plus, they will start developing ‘holes’ and ‘tears.’

It is also essential with a wet pail that you change out the water daily in order to avoid ghastly odors and the build-up of grime on your diapers.  If left too long, the water will ‘lift’ gunk from one soiled diaper and transfer it to another.  What might have amounted to one stain, could become several and your diapers will smell as if they have soaked in sewage.

Wet pails are often heavy and difficult to manage.  Make sure you do not get too large a wet pail or you will not easily be able to lift it to pour into your washer for the initial ‘spin cycle’ that you will need to incorporate into your washing system.  They are also not ideal for those that go to the laundry-mat.  Please do not just ‘pour’ your diapers into the washer without first unfolding/unrolling them.  They need to be opened for a more thorough cleaning.


Washing Machine Soiled Diaper Storage

Supplies needed:

  • Top-Loading Washing Machine

If your washing machine is conveniently located inside your home this is the way to go!  This has been our PRIMARY diaper pail system and we have found that it eliminates a lot of the ‘middle work’ that we wanted to avoid.  It does NOT require a DIAPER PAIL, but is a safe ‘wet pail’ alternative and saves you time! Do remember to keep the lid down when not placing soiled diapers into the washer.

Keep your washing machine filled either 1/4 or 1/2 the way with COLD water.  Then, add any of the following to help ‘pre-treat’ and soak possible stains and to cut down on diaper pail odor.

  • 3 to 4 squirts of Bac-Out Enzyme Stain Remover

  • 1/4 cup vinegar (also neutralizes urine)

  • 1/4 cup Borax

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Baking Soda or A&H Washing Soda

  • 3 drops of Tea Tree Oil

DO NOT add detergent in with the water in your washing machine.  This is harsh on your diapers and will wear them down over time. Detergent was never intended to be a soaking agent.  Also, DO NOT ADD CHLORINE BLEACH . . . this will eat away at your diaper’s fibers and render them useless for absorption, plus, they will start developing ‘holes’ and ‘tears.’

It is also essential, just as with a wet pail system, that you change out the water daily in order to avoid ghastly odors and the build-up of grime on your diapers.  However, in a washing machine, this is a simple process, because you can spin it out before going to bed at night and re-fill to the appropriate level for the amount of diapers you have soaking.  Remember, if left too long, the dirty water will ‘lift’ gunk from one soiled diaper and transfer it to another.  What might have amounted to one stain, could become several and your diapers will smell as if they have soaked in sewage.

  • large nylon tote

So, what’s the tote for?  Well, there is always family laundry day.  In which case, you can leave a nylon diaper tote on the top of the dryer to serve as a short-term DRY PAIL  for other soiled diapers while you are doing the family’s laundry.

If you already have diapers soaking and need to do a load of household laundry, spin those diapers out and place them inside the large nylon tote until you are ready, once again, to either soak or wash your diapers!  If you are ready to wash them, after spinning them out, just follow through with your washing method.

I am truly blessed to be married to an endearing husband (who is an incredible daddy) to be a SAHM to 2 vibrant and energetic gals, one precious little man and to do something I LOVE! My website was built out of my pure addiction to cloth diapering, natural parenting, writing and a desire to turn my full-time job as a SAHM to a WAHM! The Diaper Drama was my true, personal journey from disposables to cloth and has my heart woven all through it.

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6 Comments on Cloth Diaper Pails . . . Dry or Wet?

  1. Hannah says:

    When you say, “Keep your washing machine filled either 1/4 or 1/2 the way with COLD water. Then, add any of the following to help ‘pre-treat’ and soak possible stains and to cut down on diaper pail odor,” under ‘Washing Machine Soiled Diaper Storage,’ do you mean keep your pail filled with water? Or actually keep your washing machine filled with water..?

    • Bectoria says:

      The article does say to keep the washing machine filled either 1/4 to 1/2 full as that section is talking about using your washing machine as your diaper pail. However most washing machine manufacturers don’t recommend keeping your washer full of water (it wasn’t designed to be always full). I have personally used my washing machine as a pail without keeping the washer full of water (like a dry pail). I just ran a quick rinse before bed on the night I wasn’t doing diaper laundry.

  2. K'La says:

    Wow! Thanks for such a detailed walk-through of what to do with cloth diapers! I’m expecting in 2 weeks with my 2nd (we did disposables with our first,) and am making the foray into cloth diapering…just now realized we don’t have a diaper pail! Originally I’d intended to use the wet pail system, but the washing machine system sounds like it’d work SO much better for us. I’d never thought to use the washer!

  3. Diaper Dad says:

    Can I put the diaper cover in the wet pail of water with vinegar? Does the vinegar eat through the plastic-type diaper covers? Does it hurt the color of the diaper covers?

    What about if I use baking soda instead in the wet-pail. Any different effects on the diaper cover (plastic-y type)

    -Prefoad Diaper Dad

    PS. Check out portable washing machines that hook up to your sink if you don’t have a washer in your apartment

  4. Alicia says:

    Does anyone have any idea where I can find a good wet pail? I have been looking forever and the only solution I can think of is to buy a 5 gal bucket with a lid… :-/

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