How to Store Dirty Cloth Diapers: Know What to Do Until Laundry Day!

Diapering is a major aspect of parenting and – admittedly – one of the least enjoyable. At least that’s how I felt about it!

There’s no beating around the bush on this one: you’ll be spending a substantial part of your baby’s first year attached to the changing station, changing diaper after diaper.

The good news is that with cloth diapers, there’s a feel-good happiness to it all.

Knowing that you’re doing your part for the environment, as well as all the money you’re saving when compared to using disposable diapers, makes it all the more bearable.

A bunch of dirty cloth diapers all gathered in one spot

All of this, of course, is only possible if you have an easy to use cloth diapering system in place. Otherwise, cloth diapering will quickly turn into an exhausting battle you can’t keep up with.

Adopting a good storing system for dirty cloth diapers is one of the most important aspects you have to get right in your cloth diapering journey. Doing this also makes the whole experience as nasty-smell free as is humanly possible.

Without further ado, here’s all you need to know about storing dirty cloth diapers efficiently and hygienically.

How to Store Dirty Cloth Diapers

So, say you’ve just changed a cloth diaper – this part is no rocket science! You’re left with:

  1. Either a soiled diaper
  2. Or just a wet diaper

There are three different methods for storing dirty diapers. No method is superior to the other – at the end of the day, the ideal one is whichever works best for you.

Dry Pail Method

The dry pail method is straightforward, and very similar to what you would do had you been using disposables.

This involves throwing the dirty diaper into a pail lined with a waterproof reusable liner. When doing this, keep in mind that solid poo should be flushed down the toilet.

Once you have enough dirty diapers (and possibly cloth wipes) stored in there (all while not exceeding three days), simply chuck everything in the washer.

Assuming the diaper pail liner you have is washer machine friendly, you can also pop that in there alongside your baby’s cloth diapers for a good cleaning, too.

Wet Pail Method

The wet pail method involves another step.

Soak the dirty diaper and place it into your diaper trash can. The watertight diaper trash can should contain a small amount of water and, optionally (to make washing cloth diapers easier and reduce smells) some baking soda, vinegar or stain remover.

The wet storage pail method requires a daily water change, so there is some added effort involved.

This method is also not recommended by all cloth diaper brands, so always be sure to read the fine print on your diapers before deciding on a dirty diaper storage method.

If you opt for this method, ensure that the pail is constantly out of reach of children and pets, and that it’s sealed after each use. Water in a pail presents a drowning hazard for little ones.

Combination of the Dry and Wet Methods

Depending on the type of cloth diapers you’re using (covers and prefolds, for instance), you can adopt a method that involves both a dry pail and a wet pail.

In this method, the cover is placed in a dry pail, and the insert, flat or prefold is placed in a wet pail.

Covers should not be left to soak in water, as this will compromise their effectiveness and reduce their life span.

For wet pails, a strong liner is a must. Leaks are never joyous!

With all of that settled, here’s a step by step guide to storing your dirty cloth diapers until it’s time to do the laundry. If you’re using the wet storage pail method, ensure that you have a pail filled with some water at the ready.

Storing a Wet Cloth Diaper

Place the wet diaper in an open-air pail lined with a reusable pail liner. You can also opt for hanging cloth diaper pails, known as hanging wet bags.

If you’re using the latter, ensure that the diaper is not too heavy for the bag. No one appreciates urine leaks on the wall or door!

Add cloth diapers to the pail or wet bag over the next 2 to 3 days as they get dirty, until you have enough for a load of washing.

Again, the wet bag or liner can be washed together with the diapers if it’s stated by the manufacturer as machine washer friendly.

Keep the pail or wet bag away from heating vents and direct sunlight, and leave it open to air as a more effective way of limiting smells.

Storing a Soiled Cloth Diaper

Found a little gift in your baby’s cloth diaper? If it’s all dirty with poo, then be sure to throw out any solids into the toilet first.

You can use a cloth diaper sprayer to remove all remnants of poo. Solid waste should never go in the washing machine!

Once the diaper is relatively clean, simply chuck it inside a pail (dry or wet) or hanging wet bag.

Bowel movements of breastfed newborns are water soluble, so the cloth diaper can go straight into the wet storage bag or pail.

Storing Wet or Dirty Diapers While on the Go

If you opt to cloth diaper while on the go, invest in a couple of travel size wet bags to store the dirty diaper(s) (and possibly cloth wipes) in until you manage to get back home.

If there’s a bathroom close by, throw in the solid waste in the toilet over there and flush it – it’s better not to lug that around.

Still, if you don’t manage to do this, don’t worry about it all that much. First off, cloth diapers smell much less horrendous than disposables, and secondly, an effective wet bag should still do a good job at keeping smells at bay and now allowing anything to creep out.

Where Should I Keep Dirty Cloth Diapers?

The most efficient place to keep your dirty cloth diaper storage is close to the changing station you set up at home.

That said, if the area does not have a good air flow or is humid, it’s a no go. Humidity and a closed off space can contain or worsen smells. Your treasured cloth diapers may also grow mold in such an environment!

Many cloth diapering parents prefer storing dirty diapers in a bathroom, especially if they need to be close to a toilet to rinse soiled diapers.

That said, there’s really no firm rule as to where to keep dirty cloth diapers stored at home. Whatever works best for you, go with that.

You can opt to have a number of bins around the house – while this does make the chucking away easier, it unfortunately involves more washing up as well as an added nasty smell potential.

Regardless of the place where you decide to store dirty cloth diapers until wash day, make sure that the contents of the pail or wet bag cannot be easily reached by kids or pets.

Just imagine the mess if a toddler manages to make their way through the pile! Someone’s going to have to clean all that up, and that someone ain’t me!

How to Avoid Smells When Storing Cloth Diapers

The secret to avoiding nasty smells when storing your baby’s cloth diapers is great air flow.

A good air circulation is the best way for limiting smells. If an open pail is not an option for you (toddlers, pets… nothing is out of reach or too yucky for them), consider using a wicker hamper or plastic hamper with holes on the side that allows air circulation.

If you opt for a specifically-built diaper pail, go for one with an embedded deodorizer. Deodorizers help contain the smell of diapers, and they come in a variety of ingredients, including some that are completely natural and organic.

The Take Away

As with everything parenting-related, much depends on personal circumstances and what works best for you and only you.

Many parents choose to steer away from cloth diapers because they’re worried about any potential nasty smells between washes. As we’ve determined in this article, though, that doesn’t have to be the case at all.

With some proper prep and gear (namely good old pails or wet bags), nasty smells filling up the house should become a thing of the past!

Choosing a location where you store your dirty diapers (and possibly also cloth wipes), and the method for storing them before wash day, are personal decisions. Just make sure you stick to the best practices, and you’ll be more than fine.

That said, we hope to have helped you reach a solution that works!

Power to you, cloth diapering mama (or dad)!

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