How to Swish a Poopy Cloth Diaper

swishing a prefold diaper

The dreaded day has come and gone: the day our baby started started eating solid foods.

What's the big deal with that? Well, the first five or six months of cloth diapering were amazingly easy, because Ian was exclusively breastfed which means his poop was completely water soluble. That means dirty diapers (yes, even poopy diapers) are tossed directly into the diaper pail (no rinsing necessary), then go through the rinse-wash-rinse cycle with all the other diapers. Seriously that easy.

When babies drink formula or start eating solids, an extra step is thrown in: Rinsing the poop into the toilet. Here is that process without a diaper sprayer for anyone brave (curious?) enough to read more.

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dry cloth diaper pail, dirty cloth diaper cover, prefolds

Use cover to take dirty diaper to the bathroom.

Once new diaper is on our baby (see our diaper change process >> here), I send him to play while I take care of the dirty diaper. If it was a pee diaper (with no poop), I would use the diaper cover to drop the wet prefold diaper into the dirty diaper pail (like in photo above), then leave the diaper cover to air out on the counter and use at the next diaper change.

If the diaper is poopy, then I throw the cloth wipes into the dirty diaper pail (they generally don't need to be rinsed), and go on with the next steps.

prefold, poopy cloth diaper, swishing poop in toilet

Hold corners of prefold and flush poop down toilet.

I separate the prefold from the cover by grabbing the clean edge of the prefold (the edge that rests against the back of the cover). Holding tight, I dunk dirty end of diaper into toilet until all poop is off. This is the old school "swishing" method.

At this point you could also use a diaper sprayer, but swishing is free and effective. When the poop is more solid, it just falls into the toilet without doing anything. Other times it takes a little swishing to get it all off. For really difficult diapers (i.e., when he's teething), I might have to flush a time or two to get it all off.

The key to keeping the poop in the toilet where it belongs is holding on tight to the clean edge and keeping hand far from hitting poopy water.

cloth diapers, dry diaper pail, dirty diapers, cloth wash cloths

Toss swished diaper in diaper pail.

That, friends, is a close-up of our baby's dirty diapers. See, it's not so scary.

Once rinsed, I move prefold to water-free area of toilet bowl and push prefold against itself to sort of "ring out" (without actually touching) the excess water, making a drip-free move from toilet to diaper pail. (If I didn't remove the excess water, the diaper pail would become loaded with nasty toilet water.) Moving the pail right next to the toilet makes this step much easier.

baking soda, shaker, dirty prefolds, cloth diapers, dry diaper pail

Sprinkle baking soda over diapers.

While still holding onto the clean edge of the dirty diaper, I'll use my free hand to sprinkle baking soda from a shaker directly on diaper before tossing it into the pail. Every other time (i.e., pee diapers), I just sprinkle a little baking soda into pail.

Cover is also thrown in diaper pail after poopy diapers or if it smells like urine. If only a pee diaper and no smell, then the cover is set on the edge of the counter to be used at the next diaper change.


You just kept a poopy diaper out of the landfill and put the mess where it belongs.


also see:
new? start here...
how to wash cloth diapers
our full diaper supply list
all posts: cloth, baby, and more

*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. Purchases through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


  1. Thank you for this! I haven't had the chance to use our prefolds yet since our little one hasn't arrived, but it never dawned on me how to handle and/or store poopy prefolds once our little one starts solids.

    1. Congrats on your growing family! Hoping you're as happy with prefolds as we have been. And you'll have some time to adjust before dealing with solids :)

  2. Does the swishing action come from flushing? You hold tight to the prefold and flush?

    1. The swishing action CAN come from flushing. I usually move the prefold around in the water with one hand holding the cleaner ends out of the water and that does the job. If it's a particularly stubborn diaper, then the running water from a flush or two can really help.

  3. So we are in this stage and rinsing them has proven very difficult. The poop is sometimes solid but usually it's a mess and gets all over the prefold. I dunk and swish but it never really comes out. I've tried flushing like 3 times and it still has quite a bit of poop on it. Do you have a video? I know it seems gross but I just can't get the poop out well enough.

    1. Have you looked into getting a diaper sprayer? We never used one, but I've read that made a big difference for those difficult/sticky poops. Another option is using flushable diaper liners; then after poops you'd pull the liner out and flush it down the toilet. I'm not sure how effective those are. Or you could look into getting some sort of plastic scraper to get the poop off, but the logistics of that sounds a little gross and possibly unsanitary. The diaper sprayer is probably your best bet.

      I'm sorry, I don't have a video and I can't record one as we've been done with using cloth diapers for a few years now. You might find something by doing some searches on YouTube, if you haven't already. Hope that helps!