Troubleshooting Cloth Diapers – 5 Real Life Cloth Diaper Problems & What I Do to Resolve Them

When entering the world of cloth diapers, I had many concerns. I wondered if my stomach could handle the smells or the contents or the extra laundry. Everything I read about cloth diapering made it seem like the easiest thing since sliced bread. However, I wasn’t so sure. I wondered about what REALLY went on in the homes of cloth diapered babies.

  • Did the moms ever grow weary of the laundry?
  • Did they ever want to give up?
  • Was there ever a situation they just couldn’t handle?

What I am about to share is not for the faint of heart. Proceed with caution.

This is real life – my life.

Troubleshooting Cloth Diapers – 5 Real Life Cloth Diaper Problems & What I Do to Resolve Them:

1. Sometimes the poop … hits the floor.

The problem: Once your baby starts eating solid foods, the poops become a little more solid as well. There have been a few occasions when I arrive at the toilet missing the main ingredient only to go back and find that I dropped it halfway to my destination. It happens.

What I do: Grab some toilet paper and collect the nuggets. I place the contents into the toilet and flush. I go back with some disinfectant and spray the contaminated area. Go about business as usual.

2. Sometimes the poop … becomes a new toy.

The problem: At naptime, the legs of the diaper may not be pulled tight enough. Therefore, the diaper does not do its job. The baby then enjoys his brand new, never before seen, toys until Mommy comes in to retrieve him from his nap.

What I do: Take baby directly to the bath tub and bathe him. Put the baby in fresh clothes and sit him in the floor to play. Roll up the sheets from the bed and dump the contents into the toilet. See #1 if you lose a few. Put all sheets, blankets, and loveys into the washing machine, and go about business as usual.

3. Sometimes the poop … doesn’t drop off easily into the toilet.

The problem: Your normally solid food eating baby decides to go back to being exclusively breastfed. He refuses anything that doesn’t come from mama. As a result, the diapers go from nice little nuggets to … well thick, thick paste. Paste doesn’t fall off into the toilet.

What I do: I don’t have a diaper sprayer. It would come in handy during times like this. So I grab some toilet paper, scrape off what I can, and resolve to let the washing machine do its thing. Just throw the whole thing in and go about business as usual – maybe with an extra rinse or two.

4. Sometimes the diaper … comes off while playing.

The problem: The hook and loop system comes loose while baby crawls around like a mad man getting into everything that he shouldn’t. As a result, the hook portion hooks to the carpet and baby crawls immediately out of the diaper.

What I do: Pray he didn’t pee on my carpet. Put his diaper back on. Go about business as usual.

5. Sometimes the diaper … smells like ammonia.

The problem: Laundry detergent build up in the diaper can make the diapers smell terrible and singe your nose hairs as you inhale within a 5 foot radius of your child.

What I do: Strip your diapers! Put said diapers into the washing machine and let them run on a cold rinse cycle. Then, turn them on a hot cycle in the washing machine with Charlie’s Soap and a big squirt of Dawn Dish Soap (go ahead and squirt around the washing machine a couple of times). Add a drop or two of tea tree oil. Once the washer fills, turn it off. Let the diapers sit in the hot water overnight.  Turn the washer on the next morning so it can finish washing and go ahead and put it on an extra rinse cycle. Follow with another cold rinse without any detergents. You want to keep running rinse cycles until you don’t see any more suds! Line dry and get lots of sun. Never use any other detergent except Charlie’s Soap ever again. Go about business as usual.

Sometimes cloth diapering is just hard. In the trenches, I want to give up. I want to throw in the towel, and I, most certainly, want to throw away a diaper or two instead of deal with its contents. However, I don’t, and I keep plunging forward. I fight laziness like it’s the plague, and run the washing machine another round. Another round.

Other times, cloth diapering is downright hilarious. I’ve learned to laugh at myself … and my son. We’ve had some pretty absurd moments and some embarrassing ones. But they are memories. Our memories.

Overall, I think our troubleshooting problems are no different than mommies who use disposable diapers. If you think about it, we all deal with poop, diapers coming loose, and stinky diaper pails. It’s really all in how you look at it.

The life of mom is the same whether you choose to use cloth diapers or not. We choose cloth because it works for us. You choose disposable because it works for you. Either way, we have our memories and our moments when we just want to … throw away a diaper or two.

What are some cloth diaper troubleshooting tips that you have?

Check out all of our cloth diaper posts below:

Cost of Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers

Cloth Diapering – What Do You Do When…?

My Cloth Diapering Routine

Cloth Diapers: 5 Tips to Get You Started

Trouble Shooting Cloth Diapers – 5 Real Life Cloth Diaper Problems and What I Do to Resolve Them

Confessions of a Cloth Diapering Mama

An eBook I recommend to those looking to cloth diaper:

Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert – Learn more here.


This post contains my referral link. Please see my disclosure policy here.

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  1. Well said! When you get completely exhausted just through the liners in a 5 gallon pail of water with a lid and deal with it later or buy some disposable gloves and dip the whole dipper in the toilet and scrub it around and toss the gloves. The other trick that I did not know about but have heard about since our cloth days are “liners” they come in a role like toilet paper. They can be flushed or trashed and the diaper is not so messy”they say”.

    1. Thanks, Marcie!

      I’ve tried the liners, but it’s an extra step for me. I don’t mind poop though. If I did get grossed out easily, I would highly recommend them!

      I might consider using them when we hit a busy season as well. Ohhh, and I bet they’d be convenient when out running errands. I’ve found that’s the hardest time to dispense of the poop. No good place to sit Samuel down while I head to the toilet to dump the contents. I might reconsider my position on liners …

  2. We *just* started cloth diapering – I have a 2 year old son and a 10 month old girl. My present issue is how to dress the kids. Regina can wear dresses, but cloth diapers are significantly bulkier than disposables – so do you just stuff the boys into pants? Try bigger sizes? We already have an issue with pant leg size. Granted, my son’s a bit of a chunker – so, any advice?

    1. Jessica, oh the clothes sizes! That’s a humdinger sometimes. The sizes are made for disposable diapers. We usually wear bigger sizes to accommodate the rump. Right now, my almost 20 month old is in 2T pants. We just roll up the length to fit him. It works just fine for us. 🙂

  3. We have a diaper sprayer that never left its original packaging. When baby started solids we were living in Italy (and I hadn’t packed the sprayer). A plastic spoon did the job perfectly, washed after each use, of course and sitting on the back of the toilet.

  4. Love this…I just admitted to myself that I do not like cloth diapering one bit. I dont like the lightning bug bottom it gives my LO…. Dont like the washing, the stuffing, the sorting the the line drying….BUT I have committed to keeping at it until we reach potty training. Want my LO to inherit a better earth so I will do my small part to be earth friendly. :0)