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Potty Training: How to Handle Accidents

Aug 17, 2007
The most important thing about cleaning away after potty accidents is that you don't see it as only your responsibility, involve your child as much as possible. This way they will be able to see for themselves the consequences of their actions. This isn't about punishing them but rather showing them how to take responsibility for themselves, which after all is the point of training them to use the potty. So don't just take care of the cleaning because it's faster and simpler if you do it, instead teach them what to do and let them play a part in fixing things. How much they will be able to do obviously depends on how old they are so you will need to decide for yourself what you feel is an appropriate task to give them. However, you might be amazed at what they can take care of themselves given the right support and encouragement.

The other benefit of getting your child involved in cleaning is that they learn that they need to be responsible for any mess they make. For example, it is never to early to start teaching boys to wipe up any spills if they happen to miss the bowl!

Cleaning up urine
The main thing is to get to it as soon as possible to avoid any accidents, particularly if it is on a hard floor. Use paper towels to clean the area (paper towels are better than toilet paper because they don't fall apart dropping any unhygienic scraps in their wake). Then spray water over the area and wipe once more (you might like to keep a water bottle with a nozzle somewhere handy just for this purpose).

If damage is on carpet, then use paper towels to blot the area until it as dry as possible. Don't rub as that will only destroy the fibres and embed the stain deeper in the pile. Once again use your spray bottle of water to rinse the area and then blot again to remove any remaining liquid.

A few drops of tea tree oil is not only a great antiseptic but is also a good way to mask any lingering odors. Alternatively if you don't like the aroma of tea tree you can buy a commercial smell remover which will do the same thing.

Cleaning up after a bowel accident
On hard floors follow the same process as for cleaning urine. However, you may want to use toilet paper to scoop up the majority of the damage and flush it down the toilet. Then use towels for the clean up as per above.

On carpet it is a little more difficult. But once again use toilet paper to take away most of it. If the bowel movement is loose or runny then you will need to clean it up as best you can by using paper towels to gently blot the area and then reach for the foam carpet cleaner and follow the directions on the can. If you'd prefer not to use chemicals where your children are likely to play then you can try sponging the area using a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.

Of course, there are many stain removing products around that can help with toileting accidents but its better to stick with water if you are including your child in the process and then either you or another adult can follow up with something to remove the odor.
About the Author
Find more information on how to handle potty training road blocks that other potty training sites won't tell you, visit Potty Training and get the advice and resources you need to succeed in the long term.
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