Even with Disposable Diapers, Poop in the Potty

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Recently a friend of mine told me that whether you’re using cloth or disposable diapers for your baby, you’re supposed to flush the fecal matter down the toilet so that it can go through the sewer system and be treated. Apparently babies and small children excrete many viruses in their feces including Hepatitis A, rotavirus, shigella, salmonellosis, amebiasis, live polio virus (from vaccines), and typhoid among others. In order to keep these viruses from contaminating underground water supplies, poop should not be dumped into a diaper pail and thrown out with the trash.

This sounded crazy to me. How could I not know? I started asking people if they knew about throwing poop from diapers into the potty. I was either greeted with a “Yeah, of course” type answer or total incredulity. I decided I needed to look it up for myself, which I did with some modicum of success. Then my web-savvy, forum-using friend helped me out. Between us, here’s the info we found that explains this most clearly.

In 1975, the World Health Organization called for an end of urine and fecal matter in solid waste. I looked for this on the WHO website, but found it in an article in Mothering.

The American Public Health Association made a policy statement in 1989.

From Pampers’ Website (though I can’t actually find the instructions on the Pampers bag itself): “As the Pampers bag recommends, you’ll want to dump bowel movements in the toilet. Then just roll the diaper into its backsheet, using the tape or fasteners to keep it closed, and dispose of it in the trash.” Here’s the tricky part though, they’ve completely hidden this information. You have to go to their product description, click on a type of diaper, then click the helpful hints tab and scroll down to “Waste Removal.”

So, we’re throwing poop in the potty (if you can call the dumping of that sticky mess throwing). Our next need is to buy disposable wipes so we can throw them in there too.

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19 comments to Even with Disposable Diapers, Poop in the Potty

  • Jaimee

    So, despite Pamper’s waste removal instructions on their website, here is what they had to say when directly questioned:

    “The policy of the American Public Health Association (APHA) encourages manufacturers of disposable diapers to provide instructions on their diaper packages about disposal of human waste. However, the APHA is not a regulatory agency, so their policy is not a labeling requirement. Since we have many requirements we must follow concerning what is included on our labels, there is little room left for additional information to be added. Still, we have already discussed this idea for future consideration. Your feedback is very important, and I’ll also be sure to share your concerns with the rest of the Pampers Team. Have a good day.”

    Ruth
    P&G Team

    I find it interesting that P&G cannot find the room on their packaging one of the most important usage instructions for their product.

  • Jaimee

    Tossing the poop is illegal in some areas, but unfortunately it is not a federal law, nor is it illegal in the great state of Texas. Here’s what the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had to say:

    “I agree with you that an optimal way to dispose of excreta and diapers is to remove or scrape the waste material into a toilet and dispose of the diaper separately with the household trash. Following such guidelines would reduce odor and reduce the bulk that must be transported for disposal. Additionally, a properly operating wastewater treatment facility or septic tank can effectively treat sewage for disposal or discharge. However, there is no state law or requirement that mandates the guideline you mention. It is safe and permissible to simply throw away diapers with their excrement into the household trash and to have the trash transported to a permitted disposal facility, such as a municipal solid waste landfill. The key thing is to ensure the diapers do end up in a trash receptacle either at home or elsewhere.”

    Thomas Weber
    Manager, Water Programs
    Chief Engineer’s Office
    TCEQ

    It’s so safe that the CDC, APHA, WHO, and AAP all recommend flushing the poop to avoid the spread of dangerous viruses.

  • Jaimee

    Huggies is even more certain that tossing poop is safe and sites the EPA as evidence:

    “According to the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency, disposable diapers fall under the category of municipal solid waste, indicating that the material is safe to be disposed of in a U.S. municipal solid waste landfill. Modern landfills in the U.S. are well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations established to protect the environment from contaminants which maybe present in the solid waste stream. Landfills in the U.S. use clay or plastic liners which prevents water from seeping through and percolating into underground water supplies. Neither the diaper’s ingredients, nor waste they contain, can migrate from properly constructed and maintained landfills. Tests conducted under a variety of conditions demonstrate that neither our diaper nor the waste contained present any public health or environmental safety risk.”

    Kristin
    Consumer Services
    Kimberly-Clark Corp.

    While it is likely that most of our nations landfills are “modern” and “well engineered” I think what is actually safe to assume is that there are also many that are not. Otherwise, why would the CDC have a stance on this?

  • Jaimee

    Oh, and I recommend Tender Care flushable wipes so that the poop on the wipes is also going in the toilet.

  • Grace

    Since hearing that it should be flushed down the toilet, I started throwing away her poopsie. It’s been over 7 months now since she’s now 18 months and it’s second nature for me now. I don’t think twice of just tossing it out in her diaper, firstly, because it smells horrible and secondly, because it’s cleaner and helps the environment. I’m putting up a post on my site encouraging other mothers to do the same.

    • Kitty

      I have always used cloth diapers for my baby – even took them to the hospital so my little one never had to wear disposables. A friend recently asked me what do you do with the poop before you wash them. I laughed and told her that I put it where it belongs -in the toilet! I asked her isn’t that where she puts it before throwing the disposable diaper into the trash?

  • Charles H. Zimmerman

    I am rather new to this never having had any children,but I was born on a farm, and my mother taught me that burring human waste in the ground was foirbiden, because that waste can carry disease through the plants which it frutilizes. Because of the hudge amount of trash that exists each day and the way it is handled in and out of urban settings, I cannot see how CASUAL DISPOSAL OF POOP FILLED DIAPERS CAN BE CONSIDERED SAFE.

    • Sonya Feher

      Charles, you’re absolutely right. I felt horribly remiss when I found out I should have been throwing the feces in the toilet all along. There were just so many other things we were trying to figure out–like how to breastfeed and bathe a baby, how to distinguish which cry was which. I was appalled that no one had ever thought to inform new parents about proper disposal and that the poop in diapers should not be disposed of along with the diapers themselves, no one, not the diaper boxes, the newborn class we took at the hospital, pediatrician, nurses, or any of my experienced mama friends. Now I know and tell other folks who are equally flabbergasted.

  • The link to the pampers site seems to be broken. I tried to find the information and was unable to do it.

    Any chance you can find it again? I’m very interested in this topic!

    • Sonya Feher

      Greg, thanks for pointing out that the link was broken.

      I finally found the info on their site by pasting the actual quote into their search form. Pampers has taken it out of any of their FAQs or any reference to the environment, environmental safety, or biodegradability. Now you have to go to a product page, click on a product, then click on the Helpful Hints tab, then scroll down to Waste Removal. They really don’t want people to know about this policy.

  • [...] — Product instruc­tions on dis­pos­able dia­pers advise that all fecal matter be deposited in the toilet before dis­carding (does anyone do this?!). Read about it here. [...]

  • Cool tips! I have already been trying to find something similar to this for some time now. Bless you!

  • Nikki

    Seeing as indoor plumbing is a relatively new thing, and animals are still going to the bathroom on the ground, how is excrement bad for the environment? How did we all survive through outhouses? What did they do before outhouses? It really seems like people are just starting to make stuff up.

  • Jennifer

    Nikki, before outhouses, people were CONSTANTLY sick from fecal contamination. People would often have designated areas in which everyone would relieve themselves, by a certain tree or whatnot, but if anyone walked anywhere NEAR that tree after it had been used even once they could get sick. Viruses, bacteria, and type or worm, travels about 4-5 feet in a matter of days and barefoot people would catch those illnesses very quickly. This was especially a problem in the south a while back. It is one of the fertile areas in the country yet there were not many crops being harvested successfully. When people went to go see what was wrong, they found that many people there were sickly and not able to put the kind of work in to have successful crops. They traced it back to contaminated poop! The implementation of outhouses helped stop the spread of these illnesses but not completely. We’ve recently seen epidemics in this country that were the result of improperly built landfills. Please everyone, do not assume that because It’s important that something be done safely and right that our government actually does it that way. Let us not be so naive. Let us also be mindful that MUCH of our waste gets sent to other countries. And we should also remember Biology 101, our bodies have a built in waste removal system. You poop out toxins, virsus, etc ALL the time and you don’t even realize it.

  • Elizabeth

    I expect disposable diaper companies don’t disclose that poop is to be placed in the toilet because then why would people spend money on disposables. They may as well be saving money with cloth diapering.

  • Natasha

    I agree. I use cloth diapers and when i do use the ocasional huggies, i still flush the poop down the toilet. there is no reason not to even when using disposables. flushing the poop down the toilet is the responsible thing to do regardless of which diaper type is used. Frankly, I think it is totally disgusting to just throw the poop away with the diaper. children and adults do not throw their poop away, why should we do such a thing to baby’s waste?

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  • [...] did you know that you are actually supposed to remove solid waste from disposable diapers too? (source) Our landfills are not designed to handle fecal matter, and it’s possible for any viruses or [...]

  • When people used outhouses they did not vaccinate against all these diseases that shed in stool!

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