Just Add Cloth
Aug 022011
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diaper rash cream cloth diapers

Diaper rash can often be a cause for concern and confusion when it comes to all diapering. We all want what is best for our children, but what is best is not clear cut. What works for one child or rash, may not work for another.
Ointments such as calming creams or barrier creams are often helpful when dealing with skin irritation in the diaper area. However, creams that work great with disposable diapers are not always safe to use with cloth diapers. Since cloth diapers are meant to be used over and over again, you do not want to use any ointments that can compromise the integrity of the cloth.

Most commercial rash creams contain ingredients like petroleum jelly and fish oils which are generally problematic or even damaging for use with cloth diapers.
These ingredients can cause residue build up in your cloth fibers making them repel liquid. When your cloth diapers or inserts contain these oils, they will not absorb urine properly causing your diapers to leak. Many common diaper creams also contain chemicals that can lead to odor issues and staining in your cloth diapers. It is best to use a liner when using these creams or better yet, a cloth friendly diaper cream.

Cloth friendly creams are free of harmful ingredients and cause less buildup. Please be aware that continued daily use of any ointments is not recommended as they all can cause residue buildup eventually with overuse. If you have persistent rash issues it can be beneficial to try diapers with a different type of fabric inner. Different babies can find some fabric irritating to the skin. Some prefer natural fibers and some do better with a stay dry inner. Also, make sure to change diapers often.
If you do need to use rash ointments for an extended period of time, it can be helpful to use liners even with cloth safe rash creams. Reusable fleece liners and disposable liners are available in most cloth diaper shops.

**All rash creams, including cloth friendly, can cause stubborn staining when cloth is laundered in hard water.**

Some common causes of diaper rash are:

  • Introducing new foods
  • Food sensitivities Sensitivity to type of fabric
  • Detergent residue (perfumes, brighteners, etc.)
  • Diapers not getting clean enough
  • Yeast
  • Teething
  • Illness
  • Diarrhea
  • Prolonged wetness

Some ingredients in commercial rash ointments that can be harmful to cloth diapers are:

  • Petroleum
  • Cod Liver oil
  • Other Fish oils
  • Mineral oil

In general, you want to avoid petroleum products like petroleum and mineral oil. Natural oils like grape seed, avocado, coconut, apricot kernel, almond,  jojoba or vitamin E are a better option.

There are also many ingredients including toxins, hormone disruptors, contaminants, and preservatives that are best to limit or avoid:

  • TEA
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • PEG
  • Quaternium-15
  • Parabens
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Ammonia
  • 1,4-dioxane

Some natural remedies many people use are lanolin and coconut oil. Lanolin can occasionally cause buildup or an allergic reaction so take care when using it. Coconut oil rinses fairly well and rarely causes any issues. Both have soothing qualities. Also, going diaper free a few hours each day can be very beneficial.

An excellent chart on diaper rash creams can be found HERE at PinStripes and PolkaDots.

 *A note on zinc Oxide:

Zinc Oxide is excellent at reducing redness and treatign general diaper irritation. Despite previous beliefs, zinc oxide is NOT harful to your cloth diapers and will not cause issues. The carrier oils used to add the zinc oxide are the problem. Do not be afraid!

Some cloth friendly ointments include:

  • Balm Baby!
  • CJ’s BUTTer
  • Sprout Cream
  • Grandma El’s (contains petrolatum and Balsam of Peru, may cause staining)
  • EcoStoreUSA Nappy Balm
  • Garden Dreams Baby Bum Butter
  • Love Munchkin Baby Butt Butter
  • Pure Lanolin
  • LuSa Organics Booty Balm
  • Live Clean Baby


How often you do deal with diaper rash? Any tips or tricks for clearing up or avoiding a rash?

In our household, rashes are usually caused by diarrhea from problematic foods. This of course, is easy to avoid when we stay home, but becomes an issue any time we go out to eat or visit some one’s home. The most common cause of diarrhea in infants and toddlers is actually fruit juice. However, we don’t keep any juice in the house. Our problem food is wheat, which is very difficult to avoid when eating away from home.


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  One Response to “Dealing With Diaper Rash When Using Cloth”

  1. I had NO IDEA I could use Lansinoh as a diaper rash cream! I knew it was used on wool covers so I just ASSUMED it would create a build up on my diapers. I have a huge tube of it from when I first started nursing my first. But only needed it for the first few weeks/month and used it for the first month after my second was born. Thanks for the wonderful information!

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