Diaper Rash

Diaper Rash is not caused by cloth diapers. Cotton, Hemp, Polyester, etc., are not known to be irritating to the skin. Chemicals, such as TBT, SAP, and Dioxin, on the other hand, are all found in disposable diapers and are known to be irritants.

Putting that fact aside, we need to discern the cause of diaper rashes before we can properly treat them. Sometimes we see parents slathering the Desitin (or other rash cream) on baby's bottom in prevention of rash, or because of a bad rash that is out of control. Before just applying a one-size-fits-all rash cream, conisder that the rash could be caused by something else.

Often times, babies can be afflicted with a yeast infection just like mom (even boys!) and the typical drying, barrier rash cream will not really help. Sometimes, the rash is caused by something baby ate (especially citrus fruits) that irritated her skin on the way out. In any case, Dr. Sears has a great explanation of diaper rash, where it comes from, and how to treat it.

Why are we talking about rash cream? Some rash creams can harm your cloth diapers, and you want to be sure and protect your investment. If you're not going to be separated from your favorite rash cream, you can always try using a flushable liner in order to protect the diaper. Or you can use a rash cream that won't cause damage, such as Northern Essence Diaper Rash Salve or Northern Essence Better Butt Cream. There are several other new ointments and creams that are hitting the market, making it easier for cloth diapering parents. View a list here.

If you're still unsure of what may be causing your baby's rash, or you need help treating the rash, ask your pediatrician.

Cloth Diapering Resources

This post will be a continuously updated listing of cloth diapering stores, Real Diaper Circles & Leaders, and other Cloth Diapering Resources. If you would like to be listed here, please contact us at contactus (AT) gogreengocloth.com. This is a free listing.

Leaking and Wicking

If you're having trouble with your diapers leaking, this article is for you!

Leaking - baby pees on diaper, clothes, blankets, carseat, mom, etc. is wet. This is a major event of liquid everywhere.

Wicking - leg holes of onesies are slightly damp. Bottom of t-shirt slightly damp. Damp line along back of diaper on shirt. Crotch of pants slightly wet. This could necessitate a clothing change, but could also be dealt with.

Leaking is caused by one of two things:

1. Not enough absorbency (i.e. the baby just peed 15 oz., and the diaper only holds 12 oz.)

2. Detergent Residue.

Let's address these two issues.

1. Absorbency. Most babies' bladders will not hold 15 oz. Some babies will hold their urine for a while and let it all out at once, while others will squirt a bit whenever urine is 'deposited' into their bladder. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a cloth diaper is wet, so it seems as though they are dry when they've just wet a little. If you can place your finger between a prefold/fitted diaper and the cover to check, you should be able to feel the moisture. You can also reach around to the back of a pocket diaper and feel the insert. That's a surefire way to find out. If you take a diaper off the baby and it is completely soaked - not a dry spot anywhere - then you probably have an absorbency problem.

2. Residue. Do the nasal-aspriator test. Take a clean, dry diaper, lay flat on a countertop. Get your baby's nasal aspirator (blue bulb syringe thingy) and fill with water. Pretend that your aspirator is the baby's bladder. Squeeze some water onto the diaper as if your baby were peeing on it. Does the water soak in, or does it bead up and roll away. If it beads up, you have residue. If it soaks in, you're ok.

How to deal with....

1. Absorbency - add a doubler (a small square or oval piece of cloth designed to add 3-5 oz. of absorbency to diapers) or try a more absorbent diaper. Your local cloth diaper store or expert can help you with this!

2. Residue - time to "strip" your diapers. There are many ways that people have done this. The easiest and safest way is to wash your diapers without your detergent, but with a pea to dime sized drop of dawn (sun, joy, etc.) dish soap instead. Rinse all the bubbles out, and dry as usual. You may need to repeat this process. For more specialized instructions, please contact your local diapering expert.

Diaper Stink

Diaper Stink is the lovely term we in the cloth-diapering world use to describe that not-quite-clean smell that our cloth diapers sometimes retain. I wouldn't call it mildew, or ammonia, or really even poopy. I'd call it.... funk.

There are many reasons why diapers retain this wonderful "funk" smell, and here are just a few.

1. Bacteria and Fungus.
Yup, the good stuff. It's time to wash on the Sanitary Cycle, or add just a teensy bit of bleach (a capful should do it). You can also use a couple of drops of tea tree oil to help kill whatever it is. There are many types of bacteria (e.coli, which naturally occurs in digestive tracts) and fungus (i.e. mold, mildew, yeast, etc.)

2. Needing to wash more often.
It is really a good idea for home laundering of cloth diapers to wash no less often than every 3 days at most. Every 2 days is better. The synthetic fabric will retain smell more than natural fibers such as cotton or hemp. In addition, cotton and hemp can be washed in higher temperatures than the PUL material can, and this can help eliminate odors. So, if you wash more often, the smell will not linger on the diapers for as long, thus eliminating the problem before it starts.

3. Detergent Residue.
If you're either using a detergent that doesn't have five yellow stars according to either the regular detergent list or the HE detergent list, you ought to consider switching. Many detergents leave a residue that can retain odors and stains, and make the diapers repel moisture (meaning they wil not absorb urine). Also, be sure you're only using 1/2 the recommended amount for your washing machine (as directed by the detergent packaging) and be sure all detergent is thoroughly rinsed out. It is prudent to do an extra rinse, especially if you have an HE (front-loading) washer.

4. Rash Cream.
You've used rash cream and it has left an oily residue. Some rash creams contain fish oil (yuck) and other stinky substances that can leave stains and residue. Visit here for a list of rash creams. I personally use Dercut or Aura Cacia.

What can you do about diaper stink?

There are a few options:
1. Wash your diapers again. Maybe even without detergent.
2. Wash your diapers with a pea-sized drop of dawn (or joy, or sun, etc.) dish soap. Be sure to rinse all the bubbles out. This can help remove residue.
3. Sunshine! Lay diapers inside up outside on a sunny afternoon for a couple of hours. You'll be suprised. Stink and Stains be gone!
4. SOME diapers can be washed using 1/4 cup baking soda in the first wash, a 1/4 cup vinegar in the first rinse, and a second rinse with nothing. Please be sure this is ok for your particular diapers before proceeding. Baking soda can wear out some elastics.
5. Last resort - up to a 1/4 cup of bleach in the wash. Do not put bleach directly on diapers. Dilute first with water, or add to full washer and then add diapers. If you must do this, please be sure it is ok for your particular diapers. Color-safe bleach is NOT ok.

Sanitary Cycle or not?

To Sanitize or Not to Sanitize?

This has been the subject of much debate lately. The Sanitary Cycle on new front-loading washing machines can get pretty hot, even up to 175 degrees in some cases. The polyurethane laminate material that many pocket and all-in-one cloth diapers and diaper covers are made of is not really meant to hold up to such high temperatures on a regular basis. Having said that, it is probably ok to use the sanitary cycle on your machine once in a while, especially if you're having some bad stains or some stinky diapers. Your regular hot water is warm enough to wash away everyday dirt and germs.

When are some good times to make use of the Sanitary Cycle? When baby has been sick or had a tummyache, or if you know you're dealing with a yeast problem or bacterial diaper rash. Also, if you're using only prefold diapers, you can use the sanitary cycle every time!

Rule of Thumb: PUL - wash on "hot", everything else, "Sanitary" is ok.

All about laundry...

Have you ever wondered if you're washing your cloth diapers correctly? Well, here are the answers!

Three ways to find out what you need to know:

1. Read the label. Yes, most cloth diapers do come with a label, especially pocket diapers, All-In-Ones (AIO) and fitted diapers.

2. Visit the manufacturer's wesbite.

3. Ask the person from whom you bought the diapers how to wash if you're unsure! Most diaper store owners are moms who work really hard to make their customers happy, and they are more than willing to help you!

Our general washing instructions:

1. Rinse poo off diapers if it will rinse off. If it is solid, shake into potty. The only poo that is really difficult to remove is of peanut-butter consistency. This is when a diaper sprayer or flushable liners come in really handy. Breastfed infant poo will often not need rinsing off, especially if it has all soaked in to the diaper. If you're not sure whether you should rinse or not, go with your gut instinct!

2. Store diapers in a dry pail. Wet pails are no longer recommended, for many reasons. We use a trash can (kitchen sized) with a water-resistant, washable & reusable pail liner.

3. When you are almost out of diapers (i.e. you have at least enough left to use while you're doing the laundry) put diapers, covers (not wool), pail liner, wetbags, etc. into the washing machine. Use the appropriate type and amount of laundry detergent (this is VERY important. See detergent section for more). Wash according to what works for you. Before you get started, get to know your washer. See our washing-machine info below. Our favorite wash cycle includes a pre-wash, a hot wash, and 2 rinses. We use a front-loading machine, so we just program our washer to do this. If you have a top-loader, the same thing can be acheived by doing a cold wash, then a hot wash. You will have to start your washing machine twice. It is NOT necessary to use detergent on both washes unless your diapers are extremely soiled. Be sure to rinse all detergent out (no bubbles left).

4. Drying. Air-drying is always an option. It may or may not take a long time. Our preference is to put all fitted diapers, prefolds, and inserts into the dryer and dry on hot (this is fine as long as there is no PUL on the diapers). We hang dry all pocket diapers, all-in-ones, pail liners, and wetbags. If you desire to dry everything in the dryer, it must be on medium. Hot dryers wear out the PUL fabric and other water-resistant fabrics. The exception to this is that some manufacturers will tell you to dry your diapers or wetbags on hot the first time to seal any tiny holes made by sewing machines. Feel free to do this if the manufacturer tells you to!

Washing Machine Info:
If you have a top-loading machine, you'll notice that some cycles are longer than others, or some have numbers next to them. For instance, Cold-6, Warm-8, Hot-12. This means that the machine will go through six cycles (all cold water), 8 cycles (1 warm, the rest cold), or 12 cycles (1 hot, the rest cold). In general, the higher then number, the more times water is filled into the machine and emptied/rinsed/spun.

If you have a front-loading machine, you will probably be able to program exactly what you're looking for. My favorite is to add a pre-wash, extra rinse, and extra fast spin. I set the machine for hot water (not sanitary) and cold rinses. The pre-wash is automatically a cold wash in most machines, since hot water sets stains, and the reason for the pre-wash is that things are DIRTY!

If you're not sure what will happen, watch your machine. It's sort of interesting. Alternatively, you could read the manual. If you don't have the manual, try searching online for your washing machine model.

About Detergent:
Please be sure to use only an approved detergent. There is a great list of HE detergents and Regular Detergents (many of which can be used both in HE (front-loading) and Regular (top-loading) washers).
Be sure to read the instructions on the deteregent packaging, and always use 1/2 the amount recommended on the package for washing your cloth diapers. Many of these detergents are fantastic for use on all of your clothes, including baby's clothes.

Our Favorite Detergent: Country Save. We've tried several, and this is the one we've liked the best so far.


GoGreenGoCloth. We are dedicated to making it easy for parents to find information about cloth diapering. We are in the infancy of our project, so please check back on a regular basis for more information and links. If you would like to help our advocacy project, please contact us by sending an email to contactus (AT) gogreengocloth.com