Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Return of the Wet Pail!

Back in the Day when our Mothers and Grandmothers cloth diapered, wet pails are where  our dirty diapers were kept. As cloth diapering left and then evolved and came back, we have left the days of wet pails behind.

You may even wonder what a wet pail is! In case that is you, a wet pail was a bucket of water, often with some added cleaner (they were more likely to use bleach then the mamas of these days are). When cloth diapering evolutionized, we ditched the wet pails for pretty dry bags. With a mentality that the way it used to be wasn't good anymore. Many thoughts go to stinky, smelly and who knows what else may enter your mind. I've been there too. But more and more I have seen wet pails mentioned once again. When I took the time to think about it, I had to reassess WHY  they were used to begin with. While cloth diapers have gotten so much better and easier, the old wet pail shouldn't necessarily be a thing of the past. Here are the two main reasons I like wet pails:
  • Wet pails help fight staining. 
When we get a stain on our shirt, what do we do? We rinse it off and let it soak with a cleaner. Why wouldn't we do the same with our dirty diapers? We all want those soft diapers to stay smelling nice and stain free.
  • Wet pails help fight stink.
Our first thoughts of stink doesnt need to be so. In fact, soaking your diapers till wash day helps prevent stink. Think about this, you can add what you want to your diaper soak. There are different things you can add. I like to add OxyClean and few other things to mine. It helps neutralize the oders that other wise would be sitting and festering in a dry bag.

Not bad huh? They are really simple to use and you don't need to rush out and buy anything special. All you need is a pail ( I used an old small trash can), water and your favorite additive(s). Some additives for the water you could use are Oxy-Clean, Tea Tree oil, grapefruit seed extract,  or even a little laundry soap.

Come wash day, simply take your pail and pour it into the wash. This works on both top loaders and front loaders. On front loaders, the water simply drains straight out so no worry of water overflowing. Then run your first water only rinse. You will notice, after you have that first rinse (if your crazy like me and like to smell your dipes each step of the way) that your diapers smell amazingly cleaner already. Then continue with your normal wash routine.

If your curious what I use, here it is:

1 bucket of water
1/4 scoop Oxy-Clean
1/2 cap full tea tree oil
about 2 table spoons laundry detergent

and picture of my soaking diapers in their wet pail

These amounts can vary however you'd like. Its just what I like to do. Rest assured, I do NOT measure things out exactly each time. I'm a "lets see what this does" type of girl ;)

The old wet pail has made its way in my home and has been a fabulous new addition to my washing routine. I believe in this case, and many cases, just cause its old doesn't mean its broke! I like the wet pail and you just may too! Let me know in comments what you think and if you decide to give the wet pail a try !


  1. Thank you Crystal!! This really helped me out a lot. I've been having an issue (and yes I'm a smell diapers as they're coming out of the wash LOL)with my diapers stinking after I have them in the dryer (I have not found a reasonable way to sun them).

  2. YAY! I thought I was the only one that used a wet pail! We are done CDing now but when we were it was a wet pail all the way! My girls are only 5 and 2 so it wasn't too long ago! Helps with stains soo much and the stink! Great post!

  3. The main thing stopping me from using a wet pail - is having to carry it to the washer! LOL Is it not super-heavy?! I do use a pail (not a wetbag) but it is dry. I have occasionally added a few drops of tea tree oil to a cloth and tossed it in to keep the smell down.

    I never thought of adding other things (besides bleach) to a wet pail - that's a great idea! My mom told me she soaked in bleach - and she is surprised I won't.

    I would like to offer a word of caution:
    Please keep a tight fitting lid on the wet pail, or store it on a counter out of reach. Curious children can lean over a pail to see inside, fall in, and drown. It only takes a few seconds! Be safe! :)

  4. I just set my wet pail in the tub and wash the diapers each night! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Using a wet pail is the ONLY way we were able to get rid of odour and keep it away. I've tried many other methods, but using water and 1 cup of vinegar is the way to go for us!

  6. I will try this after I have my baby

  7. Thank you so much for this encouragement of using the wet pail for soiled diapers. I am a 67 year old grandmother-to-be and used the wet pail with my 2 grown children. NEVER did I ever have a problem with odor, "lifting a heavy pail" into the washer (Really--heavy??). Most of your children are heavier than that pail of water/diapers. I have looked at numerous websites about cleaning/soaking diapers most of which are very negative about the wet pail. I can assure you that your encouragement and experience with the wet pail compares 100% with my experience years ago. Why pay for those expensive disposable diapers, liners, even most diaper pails. I'll keep on with my wisdom from my experience as a Mother and now soon-to-be grandmother. Thanks a lot for the encouragement.

  8. My mom swears up and down that she used to put ammonia in her wet pail, is so sure she got in a fight with me about it (she only cd'd for 4 months before deciding it was too much work, 30 years ago. I have two currently in cloth and have been cd'ing for 2.5 years now) because she's sure that worked better than our dry bag. I'm sure she cannot be right about ammonia, can she?! We do everything to avoid getting ammonia smell in our diapers, things haven't changed that much!

  9. Yay! Let's hear it for "old school"! I'm a cloth diaper mamma from 30 whatever years ago. I used a wet pail with a little Dreft, just like my mom taught me to. I never had nasty smelling diapers. I didn't have to hassle stripping my diapers. And not once, with any of my three babies, did I have a yeast problem or diaper rash caused by the diapers. Now my daughter is going to be a cloth diaper mamma and I will be instructing her on the habits of a wet pail. Let's hear it for all of the cloth diaper and wet pail mammas!

  10. I used the wet pail method with great success for my first two children who are now in their early twenties. There were never stains or bad smells! I always kept the locked pail and plastic gloves near the toilet. The diapers would go in the pail after rinsing in the toilet, then I could also dump excess water from the pail into the toilet before transferring them to the washing machine. This made the pail lighter to carry. The diapers could be transferred into a wet bag from the pail first before dumping to carry to the washer also. The dumped water from the pail just flushes the toilet. I found this easier and hope it helps someone else too.