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Things I learn about cloth diapers – while traveling internationally
April 1, 2010 10:17 am | by

I’ve done quite a bit of traveling for business. Everywhere I go, I look for cloth diapers and how other cultures handle diaper care. Diaper care is an important issue in other parts of the world too, so I’m just as interested in what people put on their baby’s bottom as I am in how they take care of it after it’s dirty.

In every bathroom, in every country, I notice the toilet design, what’s on the wall, whether or not there is toilet paper, how many years it might have been since the toilet was cleaned… (you get the picture). One thing seems to be consistent (other than a lack of toilet paper)…. most bathrooms have a bidet sprayer on the wall.
This has been true in Egypt, France, Germany, England, India… everywhere I’ve been recently that isn’t part of North America! People using cloth diapers in these areas rarely call us with stinky diaper problems, but in the United States, stinky diapers are all the mamas seem to chat about on the diapering forums! I think we are, as a culture, missing something important in our diaper care. It all started when cloth diaper businesses started recommending that parents leave poop in the diapers, instead of dunking and swishing to rinse them out. That recommendation was the popular thing to do when Cotton Babies first started. It’s true, you CAN leave the poop in the diapers if you want, but it’s going to take more than a few washes to get your diapers clean because the first wash or two is just diapers swishing around in brown, poopy water.
So, parents using cloth diapers in foreign countries are telling me that it is EASY to take care of their diapers and they can’t understand why Americans have such a tough time washing diapers. What’s the difference? They spray every diaper out in the toilet using the bidet sprayer on their bathroom wall. Every diaper gets rinsed. Their diapers don’t sit in a diaper pail full of poop and pee for days before getting washed.
What’s the lesson to be learned?
You need a diaper sprayer. Your American toilet didn’t come equipped with a bidet sprayer and chances are, you don’t even know what one looks like.Β Ignore the advice from the websites who say you can leave big kid poop in your diapers for days and still expect to easily get them clean. You can’t – and you shouldn’t. Breastfed baby poop does wash out… don’t get me wrong… but once you introduce solids, that poop changes (you’ll know when it happens). When it changes, you need to rinse it out. A diaper sprayer makes it really, really easy.
So simple, so easy, so not “deep”…. but essential to every cloth diapering parent.
Have you tried one?

About the Author

Jenn is the founder of Cotton Babies & creator of bumGenius, Flip, and Econobum, worldwide leading cloth diaper brands. She has four children (Andrew, Oscar, Elsie and Louis) and holds an MBA from Washington University. When she's not working full time, she enjoys teaching business leaders how to implement sustainable economic & social change.



  • Amongchosen said...
    August 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I’m on my second baby in cloth & have never had a sprayer. I’ve never had odor issues because I always immediately wash off the poo. Never had a stain on the diaper area, either. I figure if you have to clean them, why not immediately, because an OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE. I would rather spend 3 minutes right off than however long it takes to try to get the dried or watery stinky mess of my diaper. Love the ease of washing & drying the pocket diapers!

  • Anonymous said...
    June 24, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I don’t have a sprayer (because I can just imagine a water fountain going off in our bathroom everyday.) HA! But I just rinse them in the potty and when I wash I do a short wash 1st usually on the delicate cycle just to rinse all the yucky out and then do a wash with detergent and use the extra rinse cycle. My dipes are perfect. Line drying is awesome too, the sun is a disinfectant and whitening.

  • Maggie said...
    June 20, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    This was one of the best shower gifts I got! I love ours. I started really using it after M started solids because we started have some odor issues. (I used to dunk poopy ones but spraying is just so much nicer)

    Besides spraying I also have started rinsing diapers at the end of the day in a small bucket before I pail them. Seems to be helping!

  • Berta said...
    May 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    We have a ToTo (Japanese brand) toilet seat with built-in bidet. It also comes with an air dryer function. And the buttons are on a remote control unit on the wall. So your hands can be completely clean when going to the toilet and holding your little one! (But since the air dryer takes so long, I usually use a bit of toilet paper to dry myself off – but it sure is cleaner & I use less TP.)

  • SallyGirl said...
    May 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I have a diaper sprayer and love it when it’s hooked up. *ahem DH* I have a question about bidets though. Do people just sit there and air dry after spraying? Do they keep a specific towel just for drying off with afterward? How does this work? Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Jana (sidetrack'd) said...
    May 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I don’t have one. I would love to, so what’s holding us back? A very precocious 2 year old. I’m afraid he would figure out how to turn it on and douse the bathroom. And I know that even if we put it on the wall he would figure out how to climb up to it. So, the question becomes, how does that risk weigh against two kids in cloth? Right now the risk wins out.

  • Diana said...
    April 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Well I guess it’s time to start spraying every diaper. I currently only rinse the poopy ones. My hubby rinses the liners too but I hate wringing them out with my hands, yuck. But the bathroom stinks and I get a facefull of ammonia when I dump the pail into the washer. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE my sprayer. I went home for a month and didn’t have it and it was awful. We brought it with us when we went away again for 5 weeks and hooked it up to the hotel toilet! I was able to use cloth the whole time when we were away from home!

  • mrsmelvin said...
    April 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I have a sprayer and it makes all the difference in the world, it is in the bathroom right next to where I change my little one. I spray each poopy diaper and drop them right in the pail. Spraying the diaper with cold water also really helps reduce the smell until washing…

  • Beccalynn said...
    April 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I lived in Spain for awhile and the woman I lived with used her Bidet to wash all her unmentionables! It wasn’t just for washing yourself. I’ve often thought since coming back to the States, how silly it is that bidets aren’t a normal fixture in our bathrooms! THat’s one reason I like my diaper sprayer. There’s no reason it should be labeled “diaper sprayer” exclusively. It can just be labeled “personal hygiene sprayer” if you so choose! πŸ˜€

  • Suzanne Jones said...
    April 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    You know, I have and use a diaper sprayer and of all my friends who cloth diaper I am the only one who uses a diaper sprayer and the only one who has never had a problem with diapers that stink. I just spray out the poop after the change and leave the dipe in a dry bag for no longer than 2 days. Wash as recommened…always clean & fresh. The diaper sprayer MUST be the reason why!! (PS: I also spritz with BG odar remover before putting in dry bag)

  • NCavillones said...
    April 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    We just bought a diaper sprayer (from Potty Pail). We’ve been having serious odor issues, so hopefully, the sprayer will help! I thought it was relatively inexpensive (about 30 bucks) and easy to install. Though we bought an all-in-one kit that included all the components, you can buy the components separately from the hardware store and put it together yourself, which might be cheaper, for those of you worried about the expense.

  • Julie K said...
    April 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I have a diaper sprayer and I do use it to ensure the odors stay under control. However, I am frustrated b/c water gets EVERYWHERE when I spray off my diapers. So I spend more time wiping down the walls and toilet than cleaning off the diapers. This happens even when I ever so gently depress the sprayer to control the water pressure. It seems the water just bounces off the diaper and gets all over – does anyone have any answers for that? Please send me a comment on my blog if you have any suggestions.

  • Vicki said...
    April 27, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I dont own a diaper sprayer… But Im wondering if it would help us some.. Are you spraying EVERY diaper or only poops? Because we use liners for solid food poo’s…

  • Christina said...
    April 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Like one of the other posters, we got ours from as well, so we could hook it up to the sink faucet and use warm water when we want to use it as a bidet sprayer – having multiple uses for it makes it easier to justify the cost. (Also, this way, LOs definitely can’t turn on the sprayer by themselves.) Spraying off the poop has made it easier to keep our Flips stain-free, as well as sunning!

    Side note: I wonder if some other countries don’t have stinky diaper issues because they don’t use diapers, period? I’ve read that in India, elimination communication is pretty common… Just a thought!

  • Sarah R said...
    April 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    And my daughter is 7 weeks and exclusively breastfed and I just can’t toss the diapers in there without rinsing, even though people say you can.I rinse all of my diapers off in the bathroom sink and use the power of my hands (LOL, I am germ conscious, but not that bad). I then wash my hands and sanitize the sink. I tried to convince my DH to let me get a diaper sprayer, but he said, “no”. I make do!

  • Stefanie said...
    April 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

    LOVE my diaper sprayer! Before I got into CDing, I had a terrible vision of a disasterous mess. The first few weeks (had my diaper sprayer on order)I did the shake off in the toilet and immediatley rinsed off all poop. Not so bad. Then I got the sprayer and Wow!! It is SO much easier. I, also worried about the chance of my 4 yr old making a mess but it has a shut off valve so that is not a worry for me anymore. My daughter also has the diaper rash with the CD’s but I believe that hers is more from the prefolds b/c of the urine sitting right against her skin. As long as I change her every hour to hour and a half, it seems to be better. But she still gets it from time to time. Still, wouldn’t go back to disposables for anything! =)

  • Magnolia Girl Stuck in the Middle of America said...
    April 12, 2010 at 1:18 am

    I probably wouldn’t CD without my sprayer. I’ve never dunked and been to scared to. But I think my stink issues came from an HE washer and using too much detergent. It’s gotten much better since I have an old top loader and less detergent and hang dry.
    But I did learn from this post that I should rinse out the pee diapers.

  • Tim, Kirsten and Sebastian said...
    April 9, 2010 at 8:16 am

    We have had a diaper sprayer since day one! Our baby is 10 months old now. He has three babysitters and they all have diaper sprayers which my husband installed at each of their homes AND I recently bought one as a gift for a friend. Whenever we travel, we miss our diaper sprayer terribly, b/c we have to dunk and swish. What a fantastic invention! It has made ALL the difference in the care of our diapers. They’re all sparkling clean (BG 3.0’s and Flips) except for our organics, which seem to hold stain more (NOT odor), despite our best efforts to keep them looking just like new.

  • Dawn said...
    April 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    What you’re saying makes total sense to me (mom of a 27 month old & 7 month old), but I’ve resisted getting a diaper sprayer for fear of what little boys could do to my bathroom if they were out of my sight for even 2 minutes.

    Would it be easy for a young child to grab the sprayer & make a watery mess?

  • glam.mama said...
    April 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I live in Malaysia, and yes, bidets are a norm here ;D I lived in the US in the first few months of my eldest son’s life, though, so I can definitely tell a difference between the smell of our diapers there VS here. They just don’t smell as bad they did over in the US (despite the hot tropical weather here), and I think that rinsing before washing, as well as line-drying, has contributed to that somewhat.

  • Anonymous said...
    April 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    We have the sprayer (by mini shower) that attaches to the sink faucet rather than the toilet. We absolutely love it! Because of the location, it is much easier to install than the toilet kind (we tried one of those first), and we can adjust the water temperature and pressure. We have used it for much more than just rinsing diapers – but I agree it really does make diaper cleaning easier! Maybe Cotton Babies could start selling this type? πŸ™‚

  • M said...
    April 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I LOVE our sprayer. It was worth absolutely every single cent. And I’m one of those germ conscious moms too. I spray out EVERYTHING–breastfed poop, solid food poop, I even rinse the pee diapers and we’ve NEVER had odor problems.

    When we installed it, my mom (who cloth diapered her kids back when there were no alternatives) saw it and said, “WOW. What I wouldn’t have given to have had one of those!” It really is the greatest thing.

  • Nick and Christine said...
    April 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I have a solid (not flexible) line to the toilet, so I can’t use a sprayer. πŸ™ I wash every other day and haven’t encountered stink issues yet.

  • Jennifer Moore said...
    April 7, 2010 at 12:50 am

    My daughter hasn’t really started solid food yet and I rinse out every poopy diaper and I never had odor issues.

  • Sarah Harris said...
    April 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    We don’t have a sprayer, but we do use Bummis or Imse Vimse liners. We use toilet paper to get the extra poop off DS’s bottom and then flush it all. We spray some BG odor remover, separate the cover and insert, and plop them into the pail. Works great for us!

  • Lauren said...
    April 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I think you’re right. My 16 month old son has had “cloth diaper” mystery rashes for the entire 5 months we’ve been using them. These are rashes he never had in his 11 months in disposables, and I know it’s supposed to be the opposite, but I’m just tellin’ it like it is. I feel like I’ve done EVERYTHING you are supposed to do to no avail. I am about to do a disinfecting round with tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, Rockin’ Green, and sunning to kill whatever is hiding in those diapers (per Rockin’ Green owner’s instructions) and then see how it goes. But this post came in a timely fashion at our house, I think we need to rinse immediately from now on. =) Lesson learned.

  • Crystal Biehl said...
    April 6, 2010 at 11:57 am

    We plan on getting a sprayer when we switch to solids (right now, I’m only breastfeeding)–but I don’t rinse right now and I don’t have a problem with a stinky diaper pail or stinky diapers after washing…I guess we’re just lucky!!

  • Nikki said...
    April 6, 2010 at 11:41 am

    If it works, don’t break it! I don’t know why “we” always try to change/improve things that work just fine as is! Faster/easier doesn’t always mean BETTER! A diaper sprayer is a MUST. We can’t live without it in our house!

  • Stef said...
    April 6, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I just want to pop in and agree with Jennifer that the Bummis liners are fantastic. I don’t have a sprayer (not sure if I ever will) but the liners work so well and I never have stinky diapers. Perhaps because I also don’t let them just sit and sit and sit, I usually wash every other day and we’re set.

  • Jennifer said...
    April 6, 2010 at 7:49 am

    We have a sprayer and the only time I have had a problem with stinky diapers is if I use too much detergent. I will mention that for those not wanting to spray their diapers, the bummis bio-soft liners also are great!!

  • Jill said...
    April 6, 2010 at 5:35 am

    I don’t have one. It’s tough to justify the expense when I do shake over the toilet/dunk if necessary, but it would be nice to have one. One of the giant things holding us back is that we are getting ready to move, again, for the I don’t know 4th time or something since our baby was born. At least it is permanently now, so we can finally consider getting one installed. We didn’t relish hooking one up only to move it again a couple of weeks later.

  • Emily said...
    April 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    I seriously must be one of the only germ conscious cloth diapering mamas out there. I would never leave poop – not even breastfed poop! – in my pail because I just think that is ripe for bacteria growth!

    My bathroom diaper pail never, ever stinks! It doesn’t smell poopy nor does it smell like ammonia. That is the pail where all the poopy diapers end up after being sprayed off and rinsed out – inserts, prefolds, etc. But it never has an odor and I know it is because all the dipes inside have been rinsed out. I was just thinking the other day that I should just rinse out every diaper so that even the bedroom diaper pail doesn’t build up the ammonia smell. Not only would it save on the nose but also on the diapers! The urine would eat away at the fibers.

    I just love my diaper sprayer! I wouldn’t want to cloth diaper without it! πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚