I know the real words, diarrhea, feces, manure, excrement, fecal matter, bowel incontinence, but let's face it, when your incontinent elderly mother or father is covered in poop from butt to floor, it doesn't matter what they call it, you just want to know how to clean it up quickly!
If you are just looking for the list, scroll on down, but maybe you are like me and need to know that you are not alone, which is why I am sharing my story.
A couple of months ago, my mother in law fell down in her condo and laid there for two days before she figured out how to call me. Once I got the message I sent my husband and he brought her back to our house.
Well, come to find out, the fall had exasperated a memory problem and made her even more cantankerous than usual. So for at least a day and a half she refused to let me clean her up, insisting that she was fine… sigh. The back of her legs were covered in poop and pee, which I was FINALLY able to clean up.
So the very next day my husband got her up to go potty and she had explosive diarrhea through the house, which my husband sort of cleaned up and I spent HOURS steam cleaning to get out of the carpet.
This was repeated two more times when I had to clean up mom who will not take a shower (what the hell? that would make it SO MUCH EASIER to clean her, but no!)
Literally, each time she had poop from her lady parts down her legs to the floor, across the floor, all around the house!
I Have Germ OCD
Okay, I am a Mom so I have seen some things… my kid plays lacrosse so we have had blood. There were the occasional “accidents” growing up, but since they were kids we just pulled off pants, tossed them in the washer and the kid in the shower and called it a day.
But since Mom won't shower, all cleaning has to be done up front and in person.
I am not some sissy, but I am finding out that cleaning up literal rivers of poop is outside my germ tolerance level!
5 Products To Help When Cleaning Up Elderly Incontinence
I am not some kind of eldercare expert, I only know how to clean up one poopy butt, but I did learn some things from the nurses during one of Mom's hospital stays. Here are 5 products that can make cleaning up poop easier!
Alright, this may be the least eco-friendly item in the world (I am a vegetarian and tree hugger) but it makes taking care of your incontinent parent so much less creepy!
I don't know why I never thought of these, but being able to grab some gloves makes wiping a poopy less of a trauma inducing event and more of a “just cleaning up back here” kind of thing!
I know, wearing a full-fledged, neck to toe gown may seem like overkill, but hear me out. One of the things that makes me totally grossed out is being poop-adjacent.
So I would clean up Mom, spend a couple of minutes hanging out and then have to strip down, throw my clothes in the washer and take a long hot shower to get the heeby-jeebys off of me. Wearing a full gown takes that step away because you simply do a pop-on, pop-off into the garbage bag and you are ready to go!
Disposable White Washcloths
When we first started with the cleaning I thought that I could just use regular washcloths, like that I already had in my house. But seriously, once you have doused one of your good ones in poop, it is hard to think of it the same way again while taking a relaxing spa-like shower.
Buying a stack of these is WAY less expensive than running to Macy's every time you have a cleanup in the house. The nice thing is that for a little mess, you can just throw them into the washer with some bleach. For a big mess, just throw them out with the gloves and booties!
Hands Free Hand Sanitizer
I KNOW, it can start to feel like your house is a convalescent home, but hear me out on this one! Being able to do a shot of hand sanitizer without touching anything else can save you from having to clean your entire sink in addition to the whole toilet and floor area.
Take off your gloves, put everything in a garbage bag and then give yourself a little refreshing shot of super clean hands!
Non Cream, Non Gel Bleach Cleaner
If you have only used bleach cleaner on your counters or toilet to date, you might not know that the current fad of “gel” bleach cleaners is slippery as heck on a floor.
The first time I used one I squirt, squirt, squirted it around, rubbed it with a paper towel and then almost fell on my ass when I slipped on the “gel” residue left behind. Cleaning up poop off the floor or toilet is not a fun job, but using a plain jane, industrial strength cleaner that isn't slippery makes it so much better!
Note, there is a kind of bacteria called Clostridium difficile or C. diff that live in poop. They can be spread when a person has been hospitalized, taken antibiotics or isn't good at washing their hands after going potty, like many older people are wont to do. According to the Mayo Clinic's C. diff page, “all surfaces should be carefully disinfected with a product that contains chlorine bleach. C. difficile spores can survive routine cleaning products that don't contain bleach.” You know all that poop you are touching? Could have these creepy crawlys so get you some bleach!
No Touch Floor Steam Cleaner
This one is kind of a “bonus” one, but also is a great tool for when you are doing a ton of floor cleaning. Of course, do the bleach cleaner for your first pass, but then hit the floor with a steam blast.
The nice thing about this cleaner is that you don't have to touch the pad, you can just plop it into the washer without having to touch poopy pads. When I started I was using a cute little steamer that worked great when I was doing kitchen messes, but which did not seem so nice when I was having to touch pads that had touched poopy floors!
Products To Help Caregivers Deal With Poop Wrapup
If you are reading this post you are probably in the same situation that I found myself in! NO ONE is happy to have to clean up incontinent family members, but we still want to keep ourselves safe and keep our houses clean and germ free.
For real, if this is a problem in your house, spend some money to make the whole process less heinous.
I was really getting mad at Mom when I felt like I had to touch poop without gloves and proper products, but now cleaning up poop is a joy (seriously joking, but sucks a little less!)