Diaper Creams and Cloth Diapers

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You can use any diaper cream with your cloth diapers!  When folks are concerned about a cream being “cloth safe” it can mean a few different things.  Will the cream cause repelling or impact the function of cloth diapers?  Will the cream stain?  

What do I look for when I check ingredients on creams? 

There are a few ingredients that you should be on the lookout for when choosing a diaper cream.  Petroleum products such as petroleum, white or amber petrolatum, and mineral oil can cause repelling issues when used on synthetic fibers, such as microfiber.  Consider using a liner if you choose a petroleum based cream with synthetic fiber diapers.  Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in many diaper creams, which can cause white or gray stains that wash out.  Some waxes and clays may also cause stains.  Lanolin washes out when used as a barrier (when used to lanolize wool covers it is a different application). Essential oils are another ingredient that we are often asked about in our group.  Although they won’t cause diapers to repel, we recommend that you do your own research about whether essential oils are safe to use on your child.  

Wait, I can use any cream with natural fibers?!  

If you have natural-fiber diapers, use whatever kind of cream you’d like as long as you use enough of a proper detergent and wash with hot water. This will keep petroleum-products from building up and causing diapers to repel. Cotton, hemp, and bamboo velour (not CBI) won’t require a liner for the use of petroleum-based diaper creams with a proper wash routine. (You may still want to use a liner, for other reasons, which is totally your call!)

How do I protect my diapers if I use a petroleum-based cream?

If you choose a petroleum-based cream, use a liner with synthetic fiber diapers.  The liner may be disposable, microfleece, flannel, cotton, t-shirt material, or any other available fabric that is thin and works with the diaper. Viva brand paper towels are an easily accessible and cost-effective option. **Please note that no disposable liner can be flushed down the toilet, even if they are advertised as “flushable.” Only toilet paper is safe for plumbing systems. Clean the liner as much as possible or flush off any excess, then throw the liner away.

Can I wash reusable liners with my diapers? 

Reusable diaper liners can be washed with your diapers if you wash on hot.  Your great wash routine will prevent transfer of oils from the liners to the diapers.

What creams are petroleum free?

The following common diaper creams are petroleum-free:

    • Angel Baby/Bottom Balm
    • Baby Bottom Better
    • Boudreaux’s Butt Paste (Green Tube, labelled “All-Natural”)
    • Burt’s Bees Multipurpose Ointment 
    • California Baby
    • CJ’s BUTTer
    • Claymazing Powder
    • Magic Stick
    • Northern Essence Diaper Salve
      • Northern Essence Better Butter Cream
  • and more…

What about baby powder? Baby powders will not affect absorbency of cloth diapers, although there are other concerns about their use.  Please see our full page on baby powders here.

I’m dealing with yeast!  How does that cream impact my diapers?

If your baby has diaper area yeast, be sure to use the cream recommended by your physician and use a liner with synthetic diapers if the cream contains petroleum products.  You will need to treat the diapers as well as your baby, to prevent yeast from coming back.  Read more at our page Dealing With Yeast In Your Cloth Diapers.

I used a petroleum based cream on a synthetic fiber diaper.  Is it ruined? 

No, it’s not ruined, especially if it was only once.  Simply wash on hot with a good detergent, then spot treat any left-behind ointment with dish soap. Using a toothbrush, scrub a small dab of dish soap, such as blue Dawn, into the affected area, and rinse thoroughly before washing again in your machine. Never add dish soap to your washing machine, as it can strip grease from the inner moving parts and oversuds the machine. Rinse the soap out fully prior to washing in the machine. (This is probably the only time you’ll hear us recommend dish soap in your cloth diaper routine). 

What if I don’t want to use liners? 

Those who have a solid wash routine with proper detergent, friction, and water level may find that they can use any cream, even petroleum-based, on all of their diapers (synthetic or not) without a liner, and not have any issues.  If you think that you may be able to use these creams, TEST them first on a diaper prior to using it freely without a liner. That way, if you find you do have buildup or repelling, you can easily spot-treat the area without much effort.

To learn more about how to care for your diapers, please visit How to Properly Clean Your Cloth Diapers and How To Properly Clean Your Cloth Diapers (HE).