Have I got your attention? It's not what you're thinking - and if you have kids in diapers you may wonder why you didn't do this sooner!
Disposable diapers are very hard on the environment. That's why my wife and I use cloth diapers. Instead of sending pounds and pounds of soiled diapers to the dump every week, we simply wash the diapers in the washing machine. However, you can't just dump the dirty diaper directly into the machine! That would be... truly nasty. You have to clean off the majority of the solid waste before it goes into the laundry. Sure, you could use paper towels or wipes or something to get the chunks off, but that's a waste of resources and it takes too long and it's smelly and gross.
So why not spray it off -- directly into the toilet? Commercial units that do the same thing cost $40-$60, but you can make one for $30 or less if you have the parts lying around.
EDIT: Instructables member Catflavor has alterted me to the fact that some sort of backflow prevention would be a Really Good Idea for this installation. In fact, it may be a legal requirement where you live. In Canada, either a vacuum breaker or an RPZ (Reverse Pressure Zone) valve may be used, and the sprayer will then be completely up to code. Unfortunately, these are somewhat expensive and complicated to install. I'm looking into my options and will report back. In the meantime, if you use this sprayer, I suggest shutting off the water at the valve before releasing the sprayer trigger *just in case.*
AND A PLEA: Please vote for me in the Epilog Contest! Why? Because if I win, I will be donating the laser cutter to the fledgling Maker group starting up in my city. It would go a long way towards our goal of a Maker/Hacker space in Waterloo!
Step 1: Parts and Tools
Wow! If you've made it to the first step you must be a parent, or plan to be.
For those who have never had to change a baby poop, it ranges in texture from a thin paste to a solid lump. Green guacamole poops are the worst. They're all nasty to clean up. What we're going to do is splice a hand-held kitchen sprayer into the water line that feeds the toilet.
The sprayer can be used to wash the larger chunks of poop into the toilet, where they can be flushed away. The diaper can then be put into the wash.
Here are the parts and tools you'll need:
1 T-junction with one male 3/8" compression joint and two female 3/8" compression joints
1 valve with 3/8" compression joints (optional)
1 3/8" compression to 1/4" threaded pipe joint adapter
1 kitchen sprayer wand with a 1/4" connector
1 2" long piece of 3/8" OD plastic tubing
1 stick-on hook (optional)
*** 1 vacuum breaker or RPZ valve
an adjustable wrench
*** this item was suggested by another Instructables member as a recommended heath & safety device. I am currently attempting to source something that is compatible with this setup.
Step 2: Assembly - Part 1
I had a heck of a time trying to find an adapter than converted a compression fitting to a regular threaded pipe. In the end I had to settle with using a short piece of tubing. If you can rig up the splice using less parts, then do so!
The first few pieces can be put together "on the bench." Take the T junction and remove the nut from both the long and short ends. Set them aside for later. Compression fittings don't need plumber's tape, so screw the valve directly on to the short end of the T junction. Tighten it with a wrench. Make sure that the valve lever is pointing up, as shown.
Take one of the nuts and slide it onto the end of the short piece of tubing. Tighten the nut onto the output of the valve using a wrench.
Remove the nut from the compression fitting to 1/4" adapter, and slide it onto the free end of the tube. Then tighten the nut onto the adapter. You may need to use two wrenches, turned in opposite directions, to properly tighten the nut.
Now it's time to use the plumber's tape. Wrap a few layers onto the free end of the adapter, and screw on the kitchen sprayer hose. My hose actually had another adapter - seal this junction with plumber's tape as well, if there is one.
Finally, screw the sprayer head onto the other end of the sprayer hose.
Step 3: Assembly - Part 2
It's time to move things to the bathroom.
Locate the short piece of flexible hose that carries water from the valve to the toilet. Turn off the valve (turn it fully clockwise), then flush the toilet. This will drain the water in the tank.
With a rag under the valve, unscrew the hose from the valve and allow any remaining water in the hose to drain out.
Grab the splice you created in the previous step, and screw it onto the output of the valve. Make sure it's good and tight. Since this is a compression fitting, you won't need to use plumber's tape. Now screw the hose from the toilet onto the top of the T junction.
That's it! You'll probably want to add a hook somewhere for the sprayer. It help make everything a bit neater, and you won't trip over the hose when you stumble half asleep into the bathroom in the morning.
Step 4: Using the Toilet Sprayer
With everything hooked up, turn on the main valve that comes out of the wall. Check to make sure there aren't any leaks. Now, turn on the valve for the sprayer and again check for leaks. Obviously, if there are any leaks you should track them down and fix them - usually by tightening things up a bit more.
Using the sprayer is pretty straight-forward. Simply hold the poopy diaper inside the toilet bowl and spray it off. Always aim downward, and work from the top to the bottom. You may want to wear gloves, but I don't. I just wash my hands after I'm finished.
When the diaper is rinsed off, plop it in a bucket with all the other rinsed diapers. Flush the poops down the toilet, and rinse off the sprayer head in the sink. Close the valve* for the sprayer each time you're finished using it.
And there you have it! No wiping, no scrubbing and no garbage bins filled with guacamole poop. Once the diapers are washed in the laundry machine, hang them outside to dry on a clothes line. The UV light from the sun helps disinfect them further, and the fresh air makes them smell fresher.
When your kids have outgrown diapers, simply remove the sprayer and donate it to a friend!
UPDATE: My wife has informed me that the sprayer is also great for cleaning out the catch bowl from our daughter's training potty, and for rinsing out the sink after it's been washed.
UPDATE 2: The sprayer came in handy today for rinsing all the little hairs out of the sink after shaving my face. Sweet!
*The valve is technically optional, though I do recommend it. If you have a toddler, they will almost definitely find the hose and try to use it. The valve will hopefully prevent them from filling the bathroom with a foot of water.
Finalist in the
Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest