Monday, March 29, 2010

Cloth Diapering 101 - Wet Bags!

Ok, MommieV, all this stuff about cloth diapers is so great. There's different kinds, and they're all cute and stuff. But what do you DO with them. When, you know, they get ... DIRTY????

So this post addresses how to store your dirty diapers. It's much easier than you think. What you need is ... a wet bag.

A wet bag is any bag that is waterproof or water resistant, that can store wet and dirty diapers. Therefore it can be a plastic grocery bag. But wouldn't you rather have something more cute, versatile, and durable?

Loving Touch Wet Bags, size M

Cloth diaper wet bags are usually made of PUL, the same fabric that we have previously discussed for covers and other diapers. Some wet bags are a single layer of PUL, others are a PUL liner and a cute fabric print outside.

Mommy's Touch Wet Bag, size S, periwinkle - action shot since this is the one I keep in the diaper bag most of the time.

Wet bags come in a number of sizes. Smaller sizes are great for the diaper bag - they will hold a few wet/dirty diapers as you change them while you are out and about. When I get home, I dump the dirty diapers into the big wetbag and put the empty small wetbag back into the diaper bag for the next trip out of the house. Larger sizes can be used as a hanging diaper pail at home. The medium sized one is the one that I send to daycare.

Loving Touch Wet Bags, hanging pail

Newborns that are exclusively breastfed have yellow, mustardy poo. This poo is really water soluble and easily washed out of diapers. Therefore, if you have a breastfed infant, you can just throw the dirty diapers into the wet bag and on laundry day, dump the diapers into the washer to be washed. The cold rinse that you start your wash routine with will rinse out the poo.

Once they start solids (or for babies that take formula), it gets a little more interesting. This is when I started doing dunk-and-swish. I just swish poopy diapers in the toilet to remove the poo, then wring and put the diaper in the wet bag until laundry time. Some mamas keep a plastic spatula by the toilet to help remove the poo into the toilet.

There is also a fabulous invention called a diaper sprayer. Many mamas swear by them. I had planned to buy one to attach to the toilet when I bought my new house. But the dunk-and-swish works really well for us, so I haven't been motivated to do it. I keep cleaning wipes in the cabinet under the sink, so after the dunking and swishing and wringing I can clean the seat for the next person to use the toilet (um, given that I'm single, that's probably going to be ME anyway).

FYI - even when using disposable diapers, you are supposed to remove the solids to the toilet before throwing the diaper away. Landfills are not designed to treat human waste. Most diaper packages refer to this. So this step isn't supposed to be any different from what you would do with disposables - if people followed the directions. That's another thing that totally grosses me out about disposable diapers going to landfills.

Fuzzi Bunz Diaper Tote, pink. Perfect size for the diaper bag.

One suggestion I can give, you probably want a wet bag with a zipper closure. I tried one wet bag with a drawstring closure and it didn't work well. Especially for your diaper bag, or especially when your babe starts eating turkey and has poo that stinks up the general vicinity in a 5-mile radius (not that that's happening to us right now or anything!)

My second suggestion is to have more than one of whatever size you use in your diaper bag. If you have one in the wash when you're on the way out the door, you'll be glad you have a second. And since you can always use them for other wet things, like soiled clothes, swimsuits, etc, it's good to have them around. Because of that, its difficult to find them used online, since mamas often can use wetbags even after their LO is out of diapers.

It's that simple! For newborns, just put the diaper in the wet bag. For solid poo, dunk and swish or spray off and put in the wet bag. On laundry day, do a cold rinse, a hot wash with detergent, and an extra rinse, and you're golden!

Updated - I have now tried the WAHMIES brand wetbags - see photo and more info here.  It's smaller in size than the Loving Touch size M and has thinner PUL.  The advantage is its clip on the hanging loop - so you can loop it through slats on a crib or changing table, rather than just having to hang it over a doorknob.


Lacie said...

Hi there! I LOVE all of your cloth diapers tips! Thank you so much!!!

I was wondering how the wet bags do with containing the odor? I SWEAR that every nursery that I've been in that uses a diaper pail is smelly. Is it the same for wet bags or do you feel that they do well with containing the smell?

PS. Through your blog, I entered Funky Mama Bird's contest, so hopefully I'll be getting my stash started soon!

MommieV said...


GL with the contest!

I only use wet bags that have a zipper closure, and I think that's the key. Also, if we're talking about the home wet bag, the diaper is swished and rinsed before going in the wet bag, so you're not storing solid poo.

My daycare has the same smell at the end of the day. It's because they don't get the poo out of the diapers before throwing them into diaper pails, so the poo and the diaper are sitting around all day. Although you're actually supposed to put the human waste in the toilet (landfills don't treat human sewage, that's why modern society has sewers, and that's what the diaper packages all tell you) noone seems to do that.

With cloth diapers, you usually dispose of the poo into the toilet in some way, so it's not sitting around to be stinky all the time. Whatever stink remains is in a zipper-closed bag so it's not stinking up the house.

Now if we're out, I just put the diaper poo-and-all into the wet bag to deal with at home. Last week we had a particularly ... interesting diaper change when out-and-about. Even with the wet bag zipped all the way shut, I could still smell the diaper, so I zipped the diaper bag shut too. That helped, no more smell, and I "dealt with" the diaper when I got home.

Also ... other children's poo is so much stinkier than your own child's poo is.

Hope that helps!