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Flies in your household can be a common issue in your home, especially if you live in a hot and humid climate or if there are lots of farms nearby.
I think it’s safe to say that nobody likes flies and their offspring to start reproducing in their home, let alone in the diaper pail where they keep dirty cloth diapers.
To prevent flies from laying eggs in your diaper pail you’ll need to follow certain rules.
Always thoroughly rinse feces off the cloth diaper in the span of a couple of hours and place the diaper into a well-closed diaper pail/wet bag before any flies can reach it. Keep the doors and windows shut to prevent more flies from getting inside your home.
Read on to learn in detail how to prevent these insects to come in contact with your cloth diapers and how to deal with them if you find them in your cloth diapers.
Why Are Flies Attracted to the Diaper Pail Content?
Feces is an ideal environment for the fly eggs to hatch into larvae (commonly referred to as maggots).
Let’s learn a few facts about flies and maggots to help us identify the ideal environment for their reproduction cycle.
When we’re talking about flies, we are most commonly referring to a housefly, the most common type of fly to be found in your home. They only live for 2 – 4 weeks but they can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime (source).
Houseflies prefer temperatures above 70°F (21°C). Their eggs cannot survive temperatures below 45°F (7°C), while adults perish at sub-zero temperatures (source).
These eggs are placed on decaying organic matter, such as food waste, carrion, and feces, which are the ideal environment for the eggs to hatch into larvae (commonly referred to as maggots) which generally takes up to 24 hours. Maggots are pale-whitish, 3 to 9 mm (1⁄8 to 11⁄32 inch) long, thinner at the mouth end, and legless.
The maggots will thrive in a dark, warm and moist environment. It takes about 2 – 4 weeks for maggots to transform into a housefly (source).
How to Keep Flies & Maggots off Your Cloth Diapers?
Now that we know that flies are mainly attracted to the content of your diaper pail because of the feces on them.
Rinse Feces Immediately
The obvious first rule is to thoroughly rinse the feces off the cloth diaper as soon as you can. Don’t wait for the evening or the next day, do it immediately after the diaper change. If you can’t do it right away because your child might have pooped in the daycare and they don’t rinse diapers there, make sure to do it as a priority, when you come home.
You can rinse them in the toilet, by hand or using a diaper sprayer that you can attach to your toilet.
Store Dirty Cloth Diapers in a Closed Container
While I usually recommend trying out the diaper pail without a lid to reduce the smells as a possible solution, don’t try this if you have a lot of flies in your home.
It is important to keep dirty cloth diapers as closed as possible to prevent any flies to come into contact with them.
If they don’t come near them, they can’t lay eggs on them.
Make sure not to store them in plastic bags (at least not for a longer time period) since these don’t breathe the way PUL does. Choose a dedicated wet bag or a diaper pail to store dirty diapers in. To decide more easily between the two methods, read this post, where I compared wet bags to diaper pails.
Be careful in choosing the right diaper pail for you – if you’re facing fly problems, choose a diaper pail that shuts well and is easy to clean in case some flies do get in and you’ll have to disinfect it.
Ubbi Steel (affiliate link to Amazon) is one of the most popular diaper pails out there but if you need a little more research, read this post to learn more about choosing the right diaper pail for your needs.
Prevent Flies to Get into Your Home
As mentioned above, houseflies are attracted to food waste, carrion, and feces.
To prevent the flies to find your diaper pail, you’ll have to make sure you’re not letting flies into your home. Do this by keeping the doors and windows shut or by using quality mosquito nets (affiliate link to Amazon) on your windows. Mosquito nets are a definite life-saver that will also keep other unwanted insects out of your home.
Additionally, make sure you’re not leaving any food leftovers uncovered in the kitchen and take the trash out regularly (every day if possible).
Use cinnamon or essential oils of lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus in your home – flies do not like the smell of these (source).
Prevent Maggots from Hatching from Eggs
While taking into account all of the above measures, another one is to make sure maggots don’t have the conditions to hatch at all.
As mentioned, they hatch from eggs in one day, so washing your cloth diapers daily might be a viable option for you, especially in the warmer months when it’s high season for flies.
How to Disinfect Cloth Diapers That Were in Contact with Maggots?
Maggots can be killed with various chemicals but if you found them in your cloth diapers and want to continue using them after getting rid of the maggots you need to be careful what you’re treating your diapers with.
While bleach is recommended by some cloth diaper manufacturers, it can void the warranty of other cloth diaper brands. Regardless of this, I’d probably use bleach for dealing with maggots for all of my cloth diapers.
Mix bleach (affiliate link to Amazon) and water in a 1:1 ratio and pour it over the cloth diapers that have maggots on them. This will kill them instantly but leave it for about 30 minutes (source).
Then, remove all the maggots you can see from the diapers so you won’t have to put them into your washing machine. Since maggots are quite big, they could clog the drain.
This is for sure going to be a very icky task to do if you’re anything like me but it has to be done as soon as possible. If you can, outsource this task to someone with a really strong stomach.
Another option is to use 3 parts water and 1 part of white vinegar (affiliate link to Amazon) and pour this solution over the diapers and leave for an hour (source). Remove the maggots and proceed to wash your diapers.
Be careful not to flush them down the toilet before you actually kill them because they can survive underwater for a while.
After this, wash the diapers in your washing machine, using the recommended detergent dose for the dirtiest laundry.
Carefully inspect the washed diapers for any leftover maggots’ bodies.
If they’re gone, you’re good!
How Do You Sanitize a Diaper Pail?
There are some remedies that can kill maggots, including boiling water, lime juice & salt, and other chemicals like bleach and insecticides (source).
Boiling water will kill maggots instantly, so it doesn’t hurt to pour some into your empty diaper pail just to be sure.
However, don’t pour boiling water over PUL (material used for wet bags and cloth pail liners) because it will likely destroy it.
Lime juice and salt will kill the maggots by dehydrating them. Make a mix of concentrated lime juice and salt and mix it with a bit of warm water. Pour over maggots if there are still any left in the pail and remove them once they’re killed.
You can also turn to less natural remedies, like bleach or other insecticides that will definitely kill them.
Mix bleach and water 1:1 and leave for about 30 minutes. Make sure you pour it all over the surface to make sure no eggs/maggots are left untouched if they’re still present (source).
Make sure to follow the instructions on the diaper pail to use safe cleaning ingredients for the material your diaper pail is made of.