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Cloth Diapers, Should I dunk them or spray them?

Posted by Becca on 8/12/2014 to Cloth Diaper Accessories

Do You Use a Diaper Sprayer?

diaper sprayer Before I committed to cloth diapering, one thing held me back: the poop.

When I was younger, my mom cloth diapered, but the diaper service came and took away all our dirty diapers so we never had to deal with them that aspect of cloth diapering. Going into parenting I felt like not knowing how to deal with the poop was an insurmountable obstacle when it came to using cloth diapers. I knew one thing for sure, diaper services were just about extinct so I couldn’t do it my mom’s way. Once I got pregnant with my first, it was time to really make a decision. After a few people told me that poop is easily knocked into the toilet, we held our breath and took the plunge. It couldn’t hurt to try them, could it?

My daughter was one week old when we used our first bumGenius 3.0 diaper on her. It was orange, clementine to be exact, and oh so soft and perfect! Once I touched that diaper and put it up against her lacey, newborn skin, I was hooked. I couldn’t imagine something more wonderful to use on her bum and I knew I was never going back to disposables. Problem was, we only had three of those lovely diapers and not enough money to complete our stash all at once. Even though we felt that a diaper sprayer was a must, buying one was out of the question if we wanted to cloth diaper full time. Of course, she was exclusively breastfed for a good while, so I needn’t have worried. Newborn poop can go straight in the washing machine, though I’ll admit, I usually unhooked our shower head and sprayed her poop down the drain of the bathtub. A couple of months after using that first bumGenius, we finally had enough diapers that we could squeeze out some extra funds to use on a sprayer. Once we bought it, I let out a deep breath and felt so relieved that we’d be able to deal with the poop once she started eating people food. I knew that not everyone sprayed their diapers, but for me, that was the only option when we couldn’t put the poop in the washer (or in our case, the bathtub) any longer. It was buy the sprayer or go back to disposables. I was still, that afraid of the poop. It’s been five years now and we still use a sprayer. I love it, don’t get me wrong. It’s great for spraying poop off diapers, for cleaning the toilet, for spraying vomit off towels, getting fuzzy residue off dirty mops, and even personal hygiene if you don’t mind cool water.

However, I bought it to avoid touching poop.

Breaking news: I still touch poop. And toilet water.

It is nearly impossible not to touch it unless you don a hazmat suit. Of course if your baby gives you that nice, easy poop that plops perfectly into the toilet,; or if you use a pocket diaper and you have a perfect “roll and squeeze[1]” , your hands will stay dry. But how often do those things happen? There are too many soupy poops. Too many clumsy hands. Too many times that the poop will get to EVERY INNER SURFACE of the diaper and the spray goes everywhere. Even if you use a Spray Pal, the diaper still has to be wrung out. If you don’t have one, half of your diaper ends up dunked in toilet water anyway. And if all those things happen, then you really had to give it a good soak, and the diaper will be wet outside and in. So, I hate to break it to you: you are going to get murky, poopy, diaper/ toilet water on your hands most of the time. It is inevitable (of course you could invest in a set or rubber gloves). Even though I routinely have hands dripping in diaper sprayer water, I still had a hard time imagining using cloth diapers without the sprayer until I talked with a friend. She cloth diapered both of her kids and I never saw a diaper sprayer in her house. Honestly, that confused me for years. “How on earth does she deal with the poop?” I thought. I finally asked her the other day. “We dunk and flush,” she said. So I tried it. Dunk the diaper, hold on tightly to the diaper, and flush. It really worked! The first time I used it, the poop was removed just as easily without the sprayer as it was with it. Yes, I dunked my hands in toilet water, but how is that any different from my normal bouts of diaper spraying, squeezing and dripping? I get toilet water on my hands either way. And do you always have to submerge your hands? No. There are going to be times that the poop cooperates and you can dunk the diaper without touching water just as with the diaper sprayer. Just hold the diaper by the top and bottom and only let the inner fabric touch the water as you do a half dunk. The PUL will be dry and you can still attempt a perfect “roll and squeeze.” Notice, I said “attempt.”

All that said, I’m glad I have the diaper sprayer because it really can be used long after your kids are out of cloth diapers. I know this because my daughter was potty trained for nearly two years before her brother was born and we continued to find ways to use it. However, if I could go back to making that decision to purchase it— back when it was a choice between more diapers and a sprayer— with the information and experience I now have, would I do it? Do I really need the diaper sprayer? No. I really don’t. I prefer the sprayer now because I know the sprayer, but both dunking and spraying are both efficient ways of removing poop and they’re both going to get poop and/or poopy water on your hands. The upside to the sprayer is that it gives you the illusion that toilet­-water-­hands are the exception, not the rule. Also, in addition to effectively de­pooping the diaper, it has other uses too.

But of course, so does the toilet bowl, now that I think of it...

So, go ahead and buy the sprayer if your heart is set on it. You won’t be sorry. But can you do without it? If you’re pinching pennies like we usually are, you most certainly can.

[1] Roll and squeeze: when you roll the diaper inward and squeeze just gently enough that poopy water cascades neatly from only one leg hole instead of all over your hands or worse...

poopy diapers



Megan Benson
Date: 8/12/2014
Ugh. I know how this goes. I NEED A SPRAYER SO BAD!
Date: 8/12/2014
I love the way you described how it felt on her newborn skin. I have been wanting to get into cloth diapering now for some time, I almost feel like I was doing my daughter a disservice for only want to cloth NOW and she is 6 months old. I would be ok with touching toilet water, but a sprayer would be nice
Kim H
Date: 8/12/2014
We did the swish/dunk & flush combo for 18 months before we were gifted a sprayer. I prefer the sprayer but agree that it is not a NEED if you are tight for cash (like we were)!
Kayla Stutler
Date: 8/13/2014
I had a sprayer before kids but didn't realize it! I had bought this attachment sprayer thing that goes on our shower head to wash our dogs easily in the winter. It cost a whole $12 at Kmart and with the way our bathroom is set up it works as a perfect diaper sprayer. I wouldn't want to rinse a diaper without it, because well sometimes I have to do a bit of scrubbing with that thing.
Bianca Munoz
Date: 8/15/2014
I totally still touch poop and swish and dunk.
Jamie Layton
Date: 8/16/2014
Not quite there yet, but I still can't imagine swishing and dunking personally. Glad some people are braver than I am lol.
Alicia Chen
Date: 8/18/2014
I have eczema on my hands so I much prefer the sprayer over the dunk. I still get toilet water on them but in my mind I'm not letting my hands swim in the poopy water. It's an illusion but it's an illusion I like!
Date: 8/19/2014
Amy P
Date: 8/20/2014
We were gifted a sprayer and a Spray Pal. I still touch poop when I take inserts out of the poopy diapers, but I rarely touch the toilet water. It's not so much that the water is gross as that it's cold!
Jessie O
Date: 8/22/2014
I prefer to spray over dunking! But sometimes I catch myself dunking more often.
Amanda Gautney
Date: 8/22/2014
Good read. Love learning new information.
Date: 8/22/2014
I WAY prefer spraying. I dunk when I am away from home and my sprayer and have to, and it just reminds me how much my sprayer is a staple to our CD routine!
Maggie M.
Date: 8/22/2014
With my first I was too cheap to buy a sprayer. I dunked and swished and then rinsed under the bathtub faucet. It was fine and easy. With my second I could afford a sprayer. It also works fine and I have perfected my routine so water doesn't ricochet off of the diaper and spray everything. When I first started using the sprayer I hated it and felt like I wasted my money. Now that I have it down I love it and hope I never have to go back to the old dunk and swish.
Date: 8/22/2014
I never considered a sprayer a "must-have" for cloth diapering, but when we were gifted one of course I planned to use it. Now? I have no idea how I would get all the poop off without it! There is no way dunking would do the job unless I really got all in that toilet water and scrubbed the poop off! Is that what you guys do, or is my daughter's poop something special? ;)
Danielle Wojtusik
Date: 8/23/2014
I would love a sprayer!! That would make it so much easier I think!
Malea Paciunas
Date: 8/23/2014
Spray!! I think spraying is much easier.
Mesha C
Date: 8/26/2014
On my wish list is a sprayer and a spray pal...I don't really like the idea of dunking.
Brittany Trotman
Date: 8/29/2014
I've been using Viva paper towels as liners. And so far it does a terrific job. I just have to peal them off. They catch the poop. And I just toss them. So far this has saved me from having to dunk or spray. But i am not afraid to have to do either. It's jus poop. Wash your hands and move on.
Date: 8/29/2014
This was my breaking point with CDing. I will never dunk.
Erin B.
Date: 9/1/2014
I love having a diaper sprayer and was devastated when our first one broke (after our daughter was on solids) and had to go a few days without while waiting for a new one. It made me appreciate it even more!
Ashley Wilson
Date: 9/4/2014
With my oldest I could plop or dunk & flush with no issues! No sprayer for 3 years of cloth diapering! However, we've started solids with my 6 month d and his poop clings to dear life on his diapers. My husband installed my first sprayer last night.
Orenda Williams
Date: 9/4/2014
I just started cloth diapering my two month old. I am tight on money and cant afford a sprayer. But I dont swish and dunk either. I have three squirt bottles filled with water from the faucet and I just squirt the poop off with those. They are the squirt bottles they give you at the hospital after you give birth. They have quite some pressure behind them and its worked great for us so far.
Ashley R
Date: 9/5/2014
I love our diaper sprayer! It is a miracle worker :-)
Kelly Levesque
Date: 9/10/2014
Couldn't do it without the fleece liners! Most of the time the poop stays on the liner and its the only thing that needs sprayed
Bethany McClure
Date: 9/12/2014
My husband made us a sprayer! It is so much easier too with fleece liners!
Elizabeth Elsbree
Date: 9/17/2014
We use disposable liners, and they catch most of it. Toilet paper gets the rest. It's definitely an expense, but to me so worth it.
Date: 11/3/2014
Viva paper towels as liners, and if poop doesn't stay on the PT then swish and dunk for the win! I'm not into having poo spraying all over and paying 30 or more dollars to spray poop into a toiler!!
Peta-Gaye Daniel
Date: 12/2/2014
I'm super excited to get our diaper sprayer in today's Diaper Junction delivery!
Sara L
Date: 12/24/2014
I'll admit, I did buy a sprayer and it works great. I'm just not a dunk and swish girl.
Katie M
Date: 1/13/2015
We plan on dunking and swishing. I feel like if we don't get it then I don't know what I'm missing out on.
Candace Suarez
Date: 1/13/2015
I will be using a sprayer!
Date: 1/20/2015
I'll have to try the dunk and flush method. I've done just dunking and it's a complete mess. And I currently can't afford a diaper sprayer or Spray Pal. Thanks for the tip to try.
Theresa Hover
Date: 1/21/2015
We haven't decided which method we'll use. Poopy water doesn't bother me, as I deal with plenty of poop in my job (Veterinarian), but my husband can be squeamish about that kind of thing, so diaper sprayer vs fleece or disposable liners will be his call.
Amy Moore
Date: 3/28/2015
Poopy diapers is the one thing that scares me about cloth diapering. I have a sprayer ob my registry.
Danielle G
Date: 5/11/2015
I thought a sprayer would be a lifesaver, and it's really not impressive!
Mary Schuh
Date: 7/4/2015
I always make such a mess when I dunk at gas stations and my in-laws. I love my sprayer SO much!
Date: 4/22/2019
Great post. Thank you so much! ??????

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