When poop containment fails
May 30, 2017 12:26 AM   Subscribe

Parents who deal with poopy laundry: talk to me about your process!

I'm a first-time parent and need a sanity check on dealing with soiled clothes. Right now my guy is 10 weeks old and exclusively breastfed so the poop is fairly easy to deal with, but I just want to hear how others handle clothing with moderate-to-worse levels of contamination (i.e., not just a small stain). Please walk me through your process:

-How much scraping off of poop from clothing do you do, and using what? (currently I just use a diaper wipe)
-Any pre-treatment of the clothing with a product before washing? Does your use of pre-treatment depend on how immediately the clothing is going in the washer?
-How long will you wait to wash the item? Sometimes I've JUST run a load of baby clothes and so the soiled item is now the only dirty thing....how long would you be willing to wait to wash the soiled item? Would you do anything in the meanwhile (soak in the sink?)?

Those are my main questions. I'm focused on the process for breastfeeding poop, but if parents of kids who eat solid food want to share their strategies that will certainly be relevant at some point soon!
posted by Bebo to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If something is really poopy we usually throw it in the bath and hose it down with the shower. This works for the baby too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:09 AM on May 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

I use cloth nappies and wipes so I wash poo-covered stuff all the time. I wouldn't leave for more than two days as it does smell. For clothes I normally rinse in cold water and soak in stain remover otherwise the stains never come out. I don't rinse nappies and wipes because that is their job and I wash them all together. I rinse to try to avoid covering all the other clothes in the washing basket and to try to avoid stains.

When washing I wash at 30 with non bio detergent, a laundry cleanser and stain remover if necessary.
posted by kadia_a at 1:16 AM on May 30, 2017

You can get a lidded bucket thingie to pre-soak poop-casualties in when they won't be going in the wash for a while, along with a powder (Napisan or similar) that helps reduce stains, smells and bacteria. They're mostly targeted at people using cloth diapers, but I think it's still worth buying one, since a lidded bucket is a fairly useful household item. Ours got used to store dry pet food once the kids didn't need it anymore.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:41 AM on May 30, 2017

I'm a grandmother: nothing much has changed in decades. I would still swoosh the garment in the toilet to remove the chunky bits and then either wash immediately or soak in water and detergent until the next wash load. I would check for residual stains before placing the cloth in the dryer. Rewash if necessary.
posted by francesca too at 3:35 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I did not use cloth diapers but for blowouts and leaks on clothing I did the following:

1. Rinse the poop off with cold water in the sink and wring it out
2. Spray the area with generic stain remover
3. Let the item dry out before tossing in the laundry
4. Do baby laundry whenever a reasonable amount accrued (every 5 days or so)

This system was predicated on finding the minimum amount of work for myself because there was no way I was going to spend any more time than necessary on preserving any of the millions of baby onesies we had from poop stains. As it happens, I never had any stains (I think BF poop washes out pretty well no matter what you do).

Now that my kid is on solid food we hardly ever have poop on clothes (knock on wood) but my routine is much the same, except that step 1 involves scraping and is much more gross.
posted by cpatterson at 3:41 AM on May 30, 2017

So, during breastfeeding days of cloth diapering we really didn't do anything besides throw the poopy ones into the diaper bin and wash as normal (which we did via a rinse and a wash with detergent + teatreee oil + grapefruitseed extract to keep bad microorganisms in check). Once the poop actually has some substance to it you'll want to flush that substance, either via one of the methods mentioned above or via putting in a flushable (but they never are really flushable are they?) liner.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:22 AM on May 30, 2017

We soak in Oxyclean and wash within about 24 hours. We've only lost an item or two to stains.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:30 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cloth diapering mom of a reflux baby here. Same process for poop, spit-up, and big kid vomit. Diaper wipe for scraping stuff off. Soak in plain water or maybe a squirt of dish soap or detergent (in a bin or bucket, not in the sink). Wash within 24 hours. Line dry if you're not sure the stain is out.

For set-in stains, an equal mix of blue Dawn (must be blue, must be Dawn) and hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Soak for a few hours, wash on warm with oxyclean. I have saved so many items with this process.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:25 AM on May 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, sunlight works magic on poop stains that remain after other washing techniques fail. Putting clothes out in the sun is worth a try for many types of stains, but I found that I could pretty much rely on the summer sun bleaching out poop stains.
posted by Kriesa at 6:18 AM on May 30, 2017 [6 favorites]

We have a soak tub in a sink with Oxyclean, after knocking big parts off into the drain. Then wash with the rest.
posted by nickggully at 6:53 AM on May 30, 2017

If you are using disposable diapers you may find that baby suddenly adds circumference somewhere and the diapers you have no longer work. At ten weeks we had the tiny butt and ever increasing thigh problem and had to change brands here and there cause they don't all fit the same and we were co-sleeping which made fixing the problem a priority. We switched the sheets and got them and the onesies in the wash pretty quick. Dreft and Oxy. Never had a stain.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:35 AM on May 30, 2017

We soak in Oxyclean and wash within about 24 hours. We've only lost an item or two to stains.

This works really well for us and also I feel okay having something messy in the house if it's soaking in cleaning solution whereas just throwing something gross in a laundry basket to sit there is outside of what's comfortable for me. That means that not only does the OxyClean really help with stains, it also gives me a cushion before needing to do laundry again because I feel like it's undergoing part of the cleaning process and not just sitting in my house being completely horrifying.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:42 AM on May 30, 2017

Exclusively breastfed poop is water soluble, even though there are white curds(solidified fats), they will dissolve in hot water from the tap. Poopy items in our house go in the same laundry as our clothes and get washed when it builds up enough to do a load, about every 2-3 days. I've only had a problem with yellow staining on white onesies, and I've heard that drying them in the sun bleaches ebf poop stains out very well. Ebf poop is just not offensive to me at all - it smells like yogurt and is actually pretty similar to yogurt when you think about it.
posted by permiechickie at 7:56 AM on May 30, 2017

To my public shame but also private glee, I use thrift-store and hand-me-down clothes, and I allow myself to sometimes just THROW AWAY a truly heinous poop-explosion-crime-scene garment - straight from the baby to the curbside bin.
posted by Ausamor at 9:37 AM on May 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

I used cloth diapers and wipes when my kid was EBF. Like permiechickie said, EBF poop is water soluble, so no rinsing or scraping required. I'd just put the used diapers and wipes in the wet bag and wait until I had a load (2-3) days. Did two washing machine cycles: the first a short cold one, the second a long hot one. Plenty of detergent in both washes. And I would often add additional items into the second, hot wash (receiving blankets, washcloths, etc.). Using this routine, I hardly ever had stains.
posted by toby_ann at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everyone has the EBF poop covered, so I'll just tell you that when you start solids, just scrape what you can into the toilet (I kept a butter knife on the back of the toilet for this purpose), use the presoak function of your washing machine (hopefully you have a top-loader -- if not you can presoak in a bucket with hot soapy water), and don't worry too much about how long you let things sit unless you really have a ton of cloth diapers -- I found I was doing diapers every couple days just because otherwise we would run out.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:10 AM on May 30, 2017

Everyone covered the washing, but I'd like to add that ironing is another way of sterilizing the clothes.
posted by gakiko at 2:07 PM on May 30, 2017

Seconding the comment to give yourself permission in advance to just toss a handful of items in the garbage over the first year or so. Sometimes I just nope'd out of cleaning something when it was too eww. I'd pick up replacement pants or onesie or shirt on my next trip to Goodwill.
posted by whitewall at 2:22 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing francesca too's comments. We used cloth diapers as well but one of the things we did invest in was a little hand sprayer that attaches to your toilet's water intake. We used the sprayer to remove the majority of chunks and would wash within 24 hours. We also potty trained as soon as humanly possible, which worked for us.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:33 PM on May 30, 2017

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