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There will probably come a time in your cloth diapering journey when you won’t have a wet bag nearby, and you’ll be forced to find a different solution.
This can be because you’re unsure if the whole cloth diapering thing will even work out for you, and you don’t want to invest in too many accessories before you’re sure about this.
Perhaps you left the house in a hurry and forgot to take a wet bag with you, and you know you’ll need to change your child outside of your home.
Maybe you just ran out of them, and they’re all either dirty, being washed, or drying, but you need to go out for longer.
It’s also possible that you’re using a diaper service most of the time, and you don’t want to buy new wet bags just for a few days you’ll be away from home.
In all these cases, you’ll need an alternative to regular wet bags to help you out in these situations.
You can generally use a diaper pail without the pail liner, but you will have a lot more work cleaning it after each use. Diaper pails are especially known for reducing odor by (sometimes) complicated mechanisms that might make the cleaning part harder to execute properly because of all those nooks and crannies.
If you’re interested in purchasing a diaper pail, don’t skip this ultimate guide to buying a diaper pail I wrote.
You can use a mop bucket to store dirty cloth diapers before you wash them. Just consider that their sizes can vary from about 2.5 US gallons (9 liters) to 11 US gallons (43 liters). If your mop bucket is small, don’t expect to store more than a day’s worth of cloth diapers. An 11-gallon mop bucket (affiliate link to Amazon) will likely be enough for 2-3 days.
Make sure to wash the mop bucket when you empty dirty diapers into the washing machine.
Plastic Wicker Basket
Plastic wicker baskets are a great choice because of the little holes that allow good air circulation. Since they’re made of plastic, they’ll be easier to clean than their wood counterparts, but it might still be a little tricky to thoroughly clean every little nook, especially if any feces touch the basket.
If you use it without the pail liner, simply clean it after you remove the dirty diaper from it.
Of course, you can always line them with a pail liner if you have one which will save you the trouble of cleaning it.
This 8-gallon plastic wicker basket (affiliate link to Amazon) should be able to store about 2 day’s worth of cloth diapers.
A cloth hamper (affiliate link to Amazon) is another viable choice, especially those made of metal and plastics, as opposed to wood.
Some of them are lined with a cotton cloth – make sure you wash this cloth every time you empty the dirty cloth diapers into the washing machine. If washing and drying this cloth bothers you, take it off if possible and use the hamper without it.
You can use the trash can (affiliate link to Amazon) with or without a pail liner. As you’ve learned by now, you’ll need to wash the trash can if used without a liner thoroughly. Do not expect any special odor control if you use the lid on it – odor control is the main advantage of diaper pails.
If you don’t own a cloth pail liner, you can use regular disposable garbage bags. Still I’d advise against long-term use because these bags don’t breathe the way PUL does and by sealing the diapers shut, you can create an ideal environment for mold and bacteria growth.
Consider disposable garbage bags as a short-term solution while searching for the best pail liner for you, or just use the trash can without the liner.
Washable Laundry Bags
These will provide a lot of air circulation, especially mesh laundry bags. Other commonly used materials are polyester and nylon. Keep in mind that that laundry bags (affiliate link to Amazon) are not designed to be water resistant – at least not to the extent that is necessary to store wet and dirty cloth diapers.
On the plus side, they are easily washable in the washing machine.
Reusable Shopping Bag
You probably have at least a couple of reusable shopping bags (affiliate link to Amazon) in your home. Use it as a wet bag in case you don’t have one handy. Just keep in mind they are generally made out of very different materials. Some are made of natural fabrics like jute, canvas, or cotton, while some are made of synthetic materials (source).
Consider the different materials when you’ll need to wash them since natural materials will likely absorb some of the moisture and must be cleaned thoroughly. Synthetic materials will often just need to be wiped but this isnt always the case.
Nylon, for example, will absorb moisture as well, so remember to wash it after using it as a wet bag.
Plastic Grocery Bags & Ziploc (Press-seal) Bags
Plastic bags and Ziploc (press-seal) bags will also work fine for a short while; just keep in mind that plastic does not breathe as much as PUL (material used for wet bags), so you’re creating favorable conditions for bacteria and mold growth in them. If this is for a couple of hours, though, I wouldn’t worry much about it.
Since you’re probably trying to be more sustainable (judging from the fact that you’re visiting this site), I’d still advise against single-use plastics because they eventually end up in landfills.
Dog Poop Bags
Dog poop bags can work similarly to above-mentioned plastic bags, but the good news is that there are also compostable dog poop bags (affiliate link to Amazon) available. They still aren’t designed to breathe but keep everything locked inside, so use this option for a couple of hours at most.
Chances are you don’t have a dry bag if you don’t have a wet bag, but it’s still possible, especially if you’re a very outdoorsy person and use dry bags regularly to keep your gear dry.
Dry bags (affiliate link to Amazon) are waterproof and are designed to keep things inside them dry, while wet bags are designed to store wet items (such as used cloth diapers), so you can use dry bags for cloth diapers.
Pillowcases can be a great hack as well, but since they’re generally made of natural materials, they will absorb the moisture and will need to be washed together with the diapers. They also won’t be able to contain a lot of diapers, maybe a day’s worth at its best.
Snap the diaper together
If you don’t have anything with you, snap the used diaper together to make the leg openings the smallest possible. Store it in your bag or the bottom basket of your stroller if you have one. If the diaper is only wet, you should be fine – at least if you’ll be home in a couple of hours. Just keep the diaper away from any food you might’ve brought with you as well.
Check out this post for more ideas about making your cloth diapers smaller!