Soiled diapers are a reality that comes with a baby. If you are at home disposing of these bundles is easy, but when you are traveling you often have to plan ahead on how you will take care of the dirty diaper after a change.
Health Risks of Improper Diaper Disposal
Dirty diapers are more than just a smelly nuisance. They contain human waste that can potentially cause health problems such as:
- Gastrointestinal viruses
- E. coli
There is actually 100+ viruses that can be commonly found in human excrement. Some of those viruses can live for several months without a human host.
Diaper Disposal at Home
When you are at home you need to have a diaper disposal system in mind so the dirty diapers do not cause odor in your home.
Diaper pails are an excellent way to seal away the dirty diapers until the trash goes out to the curb. These pails are also made airtight so you can mix a soaking solution for cloth diapers in them and keep cloth diapers from smelling or mildew from growing on them.
You may not realize that the bags you bring the groceries home in will make excellent storage bags for dirty diapers. You can drop the dirty diaper in the bag, and tie the top before you place the bag in your household trash. This helps to eliminate odor and mess in the home.
Disposing of Diapers on a Plane or Road
When you are traveling on a plane a soiled diaper can be a problem. You cannot simply toss the item in the trash. Soiled diapers are smelly and they are messy.
You have to plan ahead and carry something to put the old diapers in when you change baby. You want to carry something that is lightweight, and is capable of being totally sealed so it locks in odor and moisture.
- Zipper bags like food storage bags are great for this purpose. The bags are light and very easy to completely seal. You can carry several bags with you, and if you need to place them in your diaper bag until you reach a place where they can be disposed of, they will not contaminate anything inside your bag.
- Doggie Bags are inexpensive, small, and made to carry waste. You can put the dirty item in the bag and easily tie the top closed.
Whenever you change a diaper there are a few things you should do.
- You should empty any solid waste that is in the diaper into a toilet so it can be flushed into a sewer system.
- You should bag the remainder of the diaper in a bag that can be sealed to reduce odor and possible contamination in your home, or in the business where you disposed of the diaper.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper, even after changing a diaper that was just wet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to throw away poopy diapers?
You are not going to be arrested for throwing away a diaper with poop in it, unless, you leave that diaper on the side of the road or on a beach. It is highly recommended that you empty the solid waste from the diaper into a toilet and flush it before you throw the soiled diaper in the trash. This is even a recommendation for diapers you plan to enclose in a bag. It will take 500 years for one diaper to leave the environment, and a diaper with poop in it will harbor virus and disease for many months. Be safe and kind and flush the solids then bag the rest.
Can I Burn Used Diapers Instead?
The materials that the diaper is made of, and the waste inside the diaper, can produce toxins when it is burned. You should never burn soiled diapers as a method of disposal.
Where can you dispose of compostable diapers?
Diapers are not normally considered good for composting. They contain human waste and human waste is liable to have more than 100 types of viruses present that could contaminate the compost pile. Diapers should be disposed of properly, and that includes flushing the solid waste before disposing of the diaper itself.
It is our responsibility to keep the earth as clean as possible so our children have an earth to live on. Clean water, clean air, and sustainable plant life cannot occur in the future if we are reckless with resources today.
You need to dispose of disposable diapers carefully so you do not contaminate the ground which can then contaminate the water source running beneath the ground.
You should consider using cloth diapers instead of disposable ones so you put less trash in the earth that cannot quickly disintegrate.
Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., is a board-certified Pediatrician in New Jersey and has been working at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000. Since 2005, Dr. Alexander has worked as an independently contracted pediatrician with Medical Doctors Associates at Pediatricare Associates of New Jersey.
She also has a passion for culinary arts that extends beyond the medical realm. After completing culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, she started Global Palate, LLC, a catering firm, in 2007. She ran her own catering company for six years and served small group parties as an owner and executive chef.