Diaper Creams and Cloth Diapers

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by Kinsey Marie

For a full index of diaper creams, click here.

What people talk about “cloth safe” diaper creams, they are referring to those creams that do not include petroleum products. Petroleum can cause repelling on synthetic fibers, so it is not recommended to use petroleum-based creams without a liner in most diapers.

If you have natural-fiber diapers, you can 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 any petroleum from building up and repelling liquids. Cotton, hemp, and bamboo velour (not CBI) should not require a liner for the use of standard diaper creams with a proper wash routine.

When you find yourself needing to use a standard cream with synthetic diapers, you can do so by using a liner. This liner may be disposable, microfleece, flannel, cotton, t-shirt material, or any other available fabric that is thin and would work with the diaper. A popular alternative to disposable liners is Viva brand paper towels. They are easily accessible and cost-effective. Some versions may need to be cut in half before placed in the diaper. Please note that you are NEVER supposed to flush any disposable liners, 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.

When using a reusable diaper liner, you can wash the liners with the diapers as long as you use the proper amount of a good detergent, and wash on hot. This will deter any transfer of oils from the liners to the diapers.

The following brands of diaper creams are petroleum-free, and therefore “cloth safe” diaper creams:

  • Angel Baby/Bottom Balm
  • Baby Bottom Better
  • Boudreaux’s Butt Paste (Green Tube, labelled “All-Natural”)
  • Burt’s Bees Multipurpose Ointment (not their diaper cream)
  • California Baby
  • CJ’s BUTTer
  • Claymazing Powder
  • Grandma El’s
  • Magic Stick
  • Northern Essence Diaper Salve
  • Northern Essence Better Butter Cream
  • and more…

*Any All-natural product is safe to use on all cloth diapers without a liner.* Coconut Oil, Lanolin and other natural barriers are perfectly fine, though thicker barrier creams will require proper detergent and hot water to wash.

Diaper creams containing Zinc Oxide will not cause repelling, but may leave a stain. This stain should come out over time.

BABY POWDERS are safe for cloth diapers and will not affect absorbency.  Please see our full page on baby powder here: 

Side note on yeast: To help deter yeast imbalance, unrefined virgin coconut oil is helpful as it battles the yeast. Please see this study on the effectiveness of coconut oil in deterring yeast growth: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17651080/. It is very important that you get all suspected yeast rashes cultured by a doctor and use the prescribed creams they give you. Any rash that persists for longer than 3-4 days even with the use of coconut oil or other OTC anti-fungals, should be treated by a doctor. Please read Dealing With Yeast In Your Cloth Diapers.

*IF YOU USE A PETROLEUM-BASED DIAPER CREAM ON A SYNTHETIC DIAPER, IT IS NOT RUINED!* Simply wash on hot with a good detergent, then spot treat any left behind ointment with Blue Dawn dish soap. Using a toothbrush, scrub a small dab of Dawn into the affected area, and rinse thoroughly before washing again in your machine. BLUE DAWN SHOULD NEVER, EVER BE ADDED TO YOUR WASHING MACHINE. Please be sure the fabric is fully rinsed clean of the soap prior to adding to other diaper laundry. Dawn is useful for the sole purpose of petroleum-based diaper cream removal, as it is a major degreaser, but it should never be used at any other time in the care of cloth diapers.

Those who have a solid wash routine with proper detergent, friction, and water level may find that they can use standard, petroleum-based diaper creams 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 with Blue Dawn 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).