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Baby’s Laundry & Cloth Diapers: How To Store Them Until Wash Day

2010 September 10
by MieVee @

Baby's Laundry Mountain

When Vee was younger, he salivated like a waterfall, regurgitated milk due to mild reflux, and poo-ed up to 11 times a day! Every day, I dealt with a mountain of dirty laundry consisting of bibs, towels, clothes, cloth wipes and cloth diapers. Being an organisation-obsessed Mummy, I experimented with different systems to store the dirty laundry until wash day. Let’s explore the 4 systems I have tried:

A. 1 Wet Pail & 1 Laundry Basket

Baby's Laundry (1 Wet Pail & 1 Laundry Basket)

What this means: Soak laundry with poo, pee, or milk in a pail of water (called a wet pail) until wash day.

When I used this: First month (it was the confinement lady’s preference)


  • Prevents staining from poo or milk (Once set, milk stains turn yellowish and are hard to remove.)
  • Suitable if your washing machine has no prewash function. (Alternatively, you can simply rinse dirty laundry once before washing.)
  • If you do laundry once in more than 2 days, this prevents mildew problem


  • Drowning hazard! (That’s why I HAVE NOT used this method since the confinement lady left.)
  • Soaking is not suitable for PUL diapers (wears them out faster)
  • The pail gets really heavy and is bad for the back
  • Needs additional work of pouring away the water and wringing the items dry on wash day
  • Stagnant water may develop odour

B. 1 Dry Pail & 1 Laundry Basket

Baby's Laundry (1 Dry Pail & 1 Laundry Basket)

What this means: Just leave laundry with poo, pee or milk in a dry pail with lid until wash day.

When I used this: Until baby was 7 months old, before he started eating solid foods. Breastfed-baby poo smells fine.


  • Very simple and saves time!


  • Non-breastfed-baby poo or milk stains may set in after some time. (I do laundry every day, so this is less of an issue.)

C. 1 Wet Pail, 1 Dry Pail & 1 Laundry Basket

Baby's Laundry (1 Wet Pail, 1 Dry Pail & 1 Laundry Basket)

What this means:

  1. For soiled cloth diapers: Roll off or spray poo into toilet and leave in a wet pail with lid (without soaking)
  2. For items with puke mess: Rinse and rub off milk by hand, then leave them in the same wet pail (without soaking)
  3. For wet cloth diapers: Leave them in a dry pail with lid

When I use this: After baby started eating solid foods at 6.5 months old. Why? Because his poo started to stink BIG TIME, and I prefer to spray them off once I’m free instead of waiting until the next morning. This has become my favourite and permanent system.


  • Prevents stains from setting
  • Convenient access to pail at 1 more place. (For example, my dry pail in the bedroom, while the wet pail in the bathroom.)


  • Expense of getting 1 more pail

D. 1 Pail Liner or Large Hanging Wet Bag

Baby's Laundry (Diaper Pail Liner or Large Hanging Wet Bag)

What this means: Just leave ALL laundry in a pail liner or large hanging wet bag until wash day.

When I use this: During travels, especially stay-overs at my Mum’s place in Singapore. My longest stayover was almost 2 months. I survived 2 months without using a pail or laundry basket! Yes, it can be done.


  • Space-saving, you’d just need a corner in the room or hang the wet bag behind the door


  • Non-breastfed-baby poo or milk stains may set in after some time. To overcome this, consider removing poo into the toilet and rinsing milk off before putting into the pail liner or wet bag.

Which Pail, Pail Liner and Wet Bag?

1. Dry Pail

Baby's Laundry (Dry Pail)

My dry pail is a generic large plastic pail with lid bought at a local supermarket. After putting the pail liner in, the lid can’t be closed tightly. No odour escapes from the gap unless I put my nose into the pail! Vee tries to play with the lid at times, and I simply ask him to leave it alone.

2. Wet Pail

Baby's Laundry (Wet Pail from Mothercare)

My wet pail is a plastic pail from Mothercare. I was reluctant to pay a premium price for the one printed with Winnie the Pooh. When this white pail was released at a 20% off, I grabbed it at about RM40 (USD14 or SGD17). It is quite small and takes up little space in the bathroom. However, it is sufficient only if you do laundry every 1 to 2 days, without many soiled items. In the first month, Vee went through 15 to 18 square nappies a day and quickly filled the pail to the brim.

These are some other options for pails:

  • a large waste can such as those by Rubbermaid
  • any generic plastic bucket with lid

3. Pail Liner

I bought 2 beautiful Wahmies Diaper Pail Liners, which have a huge capacity to store 2 days’ of laundry. The detailed review is here.

Other brands to explore:

4. Large Hanging Wet Bag

Wahmies Fun Prints Wet Bag (All Day)

Mine is the Wahmies Fun Prints Wet Bag (All Day), which is as good as new after 18 months. It is definitely my portable laundry bag for every trip. Read the full review is here.

Other brands to explore:

How To Control The Smell From Dirty Laundry?

I have a super-sensitive nose and have not experienced any odour issues with my dirty laundry consisting of poo, pee and milk.

  • As mentioned above, breastfed-baby poo smells fine, so no odour problem.
  • Pee in cloth diapers don’t really smell. If they do, you’d need to strip wash the diapers by using these steps. (In contrast, I find pee in disposable diapers very stinky!)
  • When baby starts eating solid food, the poo starts to stink like adults’ poo, so remove any solid as soon as you’ve time. (Poo in disposable diapers is also supposed to be flushed down the toilet for environmental reasons. It is stated clearly on every packaging, but I doubt many people know about it.)
  • Do laundry every 1 to 2 days. Stretch it to 3 days and risk facing mildew problems with damp clothes and cloth diapers, especially in a humid environment such as the bathroom.
  • Cover the pail.

Optional steps you may wish to take:

  • Sprinkle a little baking soda onto cloth diapers in the pail
  • Some pail liners and wet bags have a piece of fabric sewn into the seam (view picture below). Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the fabric.

Wahmies Diaper Pail Liner (Fabric)


Dirty laundry with cloth diapers and wipes can be managed very easily once you establish a laundry system and routine. The best system is the one that works for you and your baby. Have fun exploring!

Sharing Time: How do you store your laundry until wash day? Any laundry tips to share?

18 Responses leave one →
  1. Lynn permalink
    September 11, 2010

    Hi MieVee,
    Do you wash all the laundry together in the machine from the different pails? Or each machine wash is for 1 type of pail only? Thanks.

    • September 11, 2010

      Hi Lynn, thank you for your questions.
      Every 1-2 days, I sort the items into different laundry bags and they go into the same washing machine load.
      Hope this helps. 🙂

  2. September 11, 2010

    Great writeup! I use more or less the same system as your System C but without the diaper pail liner. The pail liner looks awesome, I’m so tempted to get one now! Hehehe….

    By the way, the Wahmies All-Day wetbag I have is also VERY long lasting. I use my medium wetbag more though, but the All-Day one is so useful for travelling!

  3. September 13, 2010


  4. mel permalink
    September 14, 2010

    hi MieVee,

    thx for the info. currently i handwash all the CDs – my maid does it. i practise method C too. my question is:

    when comes wash day, do i need to soak them with the detergent for some time first? i notice if i do not, the poo stains are quite stubborn and hard to get rid of. on the other hand, the soaking is not suitable for PUL diapers like u mentioned.

    i only use washing machine like once a week.

    • September 19, 2010

      Hi mel, my handwashing experience is limited to PUL diaper covers and pocket diapers only, not inserts & soakers. Also, I always machine-wash poopy diapers.

      Soaking is not for PUL diapers as it would weaken the “glue” for the laminate layer. After some time, the laminate layer could come off.

      To remove the poopy stains, how about trying this:
      – after baby poops, remove solids from diaper and spray it clean as soon as possible
      – during laundry time, get ready pail with some water and detergent, agitate
      – add the solution to the poopy area on the diaper
      – use a soft toothbrush to gently rub off the poop stain
      – handwash as usual
      – rinse thoroughly to ensure no detergent residue remains on diapers
      – dry under the sun as frequently as possible, as the sun is a natural stain-remover

      Hope the above helps. 🙂

  5. October 26, 2011

    Thanks for your review of storing dirty cloth diapers. I’m a huge fan of the pail liner in a plastic bin method – saves me from having to scrub out the plastic bin. But for travel, I use a hanging wet/dry bag. I can store my clean diapers in the “dry” pocket at the front and then put the “dirty” ones in the waterproof part. Perfect for when I travel or small spaces.

  6. Jenn permalink
    January 9, 2012

    I keep it very simple. I use my small wet bag when I’m out and I use my diaper pail with home made liner … Rinse and wring all dipes and covers in cold water by hand. Laundry day I was in hot and cold rinse twice … Done and done

    • January 11, 2012

      Yes, kudos to simplicity! Cloth diapering can indeed be as simple or as complex as we wish. With 2 kids now, I also don’t bother to fold the cloth diapers & inserts, etc. neatly. Just stuff them into compartments according to categories and grab whatever I need during diaper changing time. Ha! 🙂

  7. June 21, 2013

    Hi, I just started cloth diapering my kid. First time mom. After she poops, I spray the inserts clean and then leave it aside in a pail. I hang them by the pail edges and I realise that the yellow stains turn to green the next day. Is that fine?

    I washed the first batch that day and after sunning the stain is gone but just wondering if the green stain is normal?

    • June 28, 2013

      Hi ling, congrats on your new baby! Same here, I remember the newborn yellowish poo poo stains turning green. Doesn’t matter, as long as they go away after sunning. 🙂

  8. Shermine permalink
    August 1, 2013

    Hi mievee
    I just started on cloth diapering . Wanted to use the dry Paail method but I realize the stench of urine will not go away .. U washed it twice and even soaked it once but the smell is still there . It’s a new diaper and I I use country save detergent .. Any suggestions how I can rid the smell ?

    • August 2, 2013

      Hi Shermine, do you mean the inserts still smell of urine? (Guess the diaper covers are fine?)

      Possible causes for relatively new diaper with smell: too little detergent during wash / insufficient prewashing / insufficient water during rinsing (e.g. water-efficient front loading machine when washing few items)

      To get rid of the smell, try this:
      – Fill a pail with warm to hot water (wear rubber gloves), add a bit of detergent, handwash the inserts (making sure to wring them several times when washing), rinse until no more soap bubbles, put in washing machine for 1 more rinse cycle, dry under sun

      – If doesn’t work, try soaking in a CD-safe oxygen bleach then wash again. I use Nellie’s Oxygen Brightener.

      Forward-looking, it’s important to update your washing routine to prevent the stench from coming back.
      – prewash inserts by hand (under running tap water or in a pail) before putting into washing machine (Toddler pee are usually more, so my washing machine prewash function is not sufficient.)

      – if you wash every 2 days (instead of daily), then consider prewashing the inserts at the end of Day 1 then leave in pail till Day 2. Same step as above, rinse out the pee, then wring dry.

      – put sufficient detergent (You may check with Country Save how much they recommend for 1 load. And verify the size of 1 load.)

      – wash in a sufficiently big load, especially for water-efficient machine. To achieve this, after prewashing inserts, I wash diapers together with the family’s clothes and towels, to get a full load.

      Hope this helps. Once you get the initial part sorted out, cloth diapering should be very much easier. 🙂

  9. September 3, 2014

    Hi MieVee,
    this may come as stupid questions, but I prefer to think that people daring to ask learn more than those too afraid to. And you’re so good with all the small details that make a difference.

    1. Do you put the pail liner in the washing machine every time you wash the diapers or only once in a while? If each time, having a second one seems almost necessary, especially with a newborn.
    2. How often do you clean the dry pail with the liner?
    3. Do you clean the wet pail every time you wash the diapers? Is it mostly a rinse each time and a thorough wash with detergent like once a week or a thorough wash every time? Or other…
    4. Does the lid for the wet pail need to be really tight? If not, I might reuse one plastic flip cover bin I already have and no longer use.
    Thanks for your kind advice,

    • September 21, 2014

      Hi Lea… haha… you’re so humble! It’s ok, just clarify when you need to. 🙂 Let me try to answer your questions:

      1. Do you put the pail liner in the washing machine every time you wash the diapers or only once in a while? If each time, having a second one seems almost necessary, especially with a newborn.

      When I use a diaper liner, yes, I put it into the washing machine with every diaper load. Between the time the diaper liner is in the wash and being dried, I’d still need a liner, so I’ve a second one.

      Update: with 3 kids now (and all 3 on diapers when sleeping!) and trying to minimise laundry, I’ve stopped using a diaper liner. I simply put all used diapers in a diaper pail with cover.

      2. How often do you clean the dry pail with the liner?

      Rarely… because the liner keeps it clean.

      3. Do you clean the wet pail every time you wash the diapers? Is it mostly a rinse each time and a thorough wash with detergent like once a week or a thorough wash every time? Or other…

      My new washing machine has no pre-wash function. So each morning, I use the pail to rinse all inserts once. While doing so, I spray the lid and diaper pail rather thoroughly.

      After putting the diapers into the washing machine, spray the diaper pail with water and continue to use it.

      If I spot that the pail seems a bit dirty, I’d scrub it with soap. But this hasn’t happen much, probably because I use the pail to rinse diapers so often.

      4. Does the lid for the wet pail need to be really tight? If not, I might reuse one plastic flip cover bin I already have and no longer use.

      If your wet pail means soaking diapers in water, then yes, please have a tight cover.

      If your wet pail isn’t for soaking, then it need not be really tight. Flip cover bin sounds fine. Newborn poo is generally ok. When baby starts solid, then it depends on whether slight odour may escape from your bin. If you spray poo off soon, it should be ok too. Anyway, just handle that when it happens.

      All the best to you and baby! 🙂

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