by maipham

May 14, 2020

how to prevent diaper rash with cloth diapers

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Your little baby is having a diaper rash with cloth diapers. How is it even possible?

I mean, you know your baby has sensitive skin and you have changed from disposable diapers to cloth diapers to prevent the rash from happening. But it still does. How come?

Isn’t that they said cloth diapering is the solution for diaper rash? Such a BS.

Now you have to deal with both: the pee, the poo, and the rash! 

OK, easy there.

I get you. My husband scolded me when our son still got diaper rash even though he mostly wore cloth diapers during the day. 

But you need to know that, even though we hate it, even our babies hate it, diaper rash is completely normal and can happen to almost all babies at some point in their childhood.

So before you throw away all the cloth diapers, let’s figure out some common reasons why babies have diaper rash even with cloth diapers, and how to prevent diaper rash with cloth diapers.

Why do babies have diaper rash with cloth diapers

First thing first, before we jump to the tips on how to prevent diaper rash with cloth diapers, let's go through all the possible reasons of diaper rash, and make sure you are not making any of these mistakes.

Poor hygiene

Your baby pees a lot. One thing about cloth diaper is that you need to change it every time your baby pees or poos. Even if there is no poop, you still need to wipe your baby’s bum with wet wipes, then dry it well before putting the next cloth diaper on. 

The most common reason for cloth diaper rash is due to improper cleaning and wiping.

Remember that some babies get very comfortable in cloth diapers. Especially in summer, a little pee in the cloth diapers cools down your baby and sometimes relaxes him, he might not get agitated to let you know it’s time for a diaper change. Therefore, you need to check your baby’s cloth diapers often.

The wet wipes issues

For the sake of convenience, most people opt to disposable wet wipes to wipe their babies’ bums during the change. However, disposable wet wipes usually contain chemicals, fragrances, and moisturizers which can irritate your baby’s skin.

It’s highly recommended that you switch to cloth wipes and a safe wash solution, homemade if possible, or just plain water. Using cloth wipes on the go and while out of the house is also possible. 

Treat your cloth wipes like you do your cloth diapers – store in a wet bag when soiled and wash the same way too. Or another less environmental solution, is to get a big bag of cotton pad, use it to wipe your baby, and simply throw away.

Rashes due to delayed diaper changes

Even a little bit of liquid on the cloth diaper can make the diaper wet and damp for a long time. Therefore, you need to change it very often, every time after your baby wet or soil it. Even though the capacity of the diapers is good for 2 to 3 pees, yet you still should change every time your baby pees if you don’t want your baby to have a rash. Here's my guide on "how long can I leave a wet diaper?"

As mentioned above, you need to check your baby’s diaper often in case your little one doesn’t let you know when the diaper is soiled. Ideally, for infants, a check and change every hour is required. Needless to say, if there is any poop in the diaper, you need to change it immediately.

The cloth diaper is not the right size

I know your baby grows up quickly. But unlike other clothes, don’t size up his cloth diapers and get him something that is too loose.

If the diaper is too loose, its material can rub against your baby’s skin, causing friction rash.

On the other hand, if the diaper is too tight, it will leave marks on the skin while not providing enough air to the bum.

Rectifying a friction rash is easy. Just make sure you get a good fit. Don’t be afraid to get a snug fit on the diaper. It won’t be uncomfortable for the baby. The reason why most people are afraid of a snug fit is that they’re used to disposables which usually hang loose in the baby’s crotch. This is not the case with a cloth diaper – it should fit snug as underwear does.

Not using enough detergent

Doing this will lead to the urine and ammonia deposits not being cleaned off the soiled diaper. This will over time lead to ammonia being built up and irritate the baby’s skin.

Using too much detergent or fabric softener

And then there’s using too much detergent or not washing off the detergent well enough. The detergent or fabric softener that has clung on to the cloth diaper then irritates the baby’s skin and can cause rashes. Detergents and softeners are composed of chemicals and cleansers after all. Repeated exposure to this on your body and baby’s sensitive skin can cause rashes.

Your laundry routine

It is recommended that cloth diapers be washed with some gentle detergent that does not contain fragrances. You can use a regular detergent like Tide for sensitive skin.

Try not to allow diapers to sit for more than 2 days in a pail. Doing so makes it harder to wash and allows bacteria to thrive.

I personally do things a little differently.

I purchased an EcoEgg, which is a great alternative for detergent. No detergent or anything needed and it still cleans your clothes very well. However, I need to do laundry daily as the EcoEgg cannot remove all the smell of pee if I let the diapers sit more than a day.

With Ethan’s pee diapers, I rinse them off thoroughly with water first. With poop diapers, I rinse off all the solid and let them soak in Tide detergent for a few hours until my next laundry time. Then all of his diapers will be washed by the EcoEgg. This way, I don’t have to worry about the pee, the poop and the detergent. 

It’s a win-win for me. 

If this sounds more complicated for you, try an easier alternative: get a wet diaper pail to store the diapers until the next wash.

Your water is too hard

One more reason that your cloth diapers become stiff and cause friction rash to your baby is that your water is too hard. 

So give it a test, watch how your laundry comes out of the washer, and get some borax or water softener if needed.  

Sensitivity to fabric

In rare cases, some babies can be allergic to the fabric used in cloth diapers. 

Microsuede or microfleece is usually safe for all babies and doesn’t give rashes. But due to inherent skin sensitivities, a baby may develop allergies to one or both types which appear as diaper rash. 

Using microfiber next to baby’s skin

Microfiber is a highly efficient material in terms of absorption and holding. However, it is such a super absorber that it can suck dry the natural moisture of skin too. So when you use microfiber on your baby’s skin it leaves the area very dry and causes rashes.

Microfiber, therefore, should never be used such that it is in direct contact with baby’s skin. It can be used inside a pocket or sleeve or in cases where the microfiber is topped with a layer of suede or fleece.

How to prevent diaper rash with cloth diapers

Let them breathe

One of the easiest ways to prevent diaper rash is to let that little bum out. Not only does it prevent rash but it also is very comfortable for your baby. 

Ain't nobody wants to wear a diaper all the time, even if it is just a piece of cloth. Put your baby on a small mat and let some air go to his little puffy thing. 

Use sunlight to naturally disinfect your diapers

Hang your diapers outside in the sun to dry whenever possible. The UV helps kill bacteria and also gets rid of those harmless but sometimes gross-looking tie-dye poop stains.

Final thought

Diaper rash is very common to all babies, even the ones who use cloth diapers. Now you know all the most common reasons why your little one still has diaper rash with cloth diapers and how to prevent diaper rash with cloth diapers, don’t get frustrated when it happens, but make respective changes if it happens too often.

You cannot eliminate diaper rash from your baby’s childhood, but you can do something to reduce and prevent it. Protect that little bum.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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