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DISCLAIMER! Read the whole post! I am not telling you to use just any zinc oxide cream on your diapers! I am also recommending to always use a fleece liner when using even a “safe” zinc oxide cream on your synthetic fiber diapers, as stains are very possible! Also be informed that using ANY cream (“safe” or not) can void your warranty. Check with your manufacturer if this is a concern.
Babies get rashes. In cloth diapers or in disposables, rashes happen. Obviously, your first step is to figure out the cause of the rash, then take steps to heal it and prevent it from reoccurring.
With cloth diapers, however, it’s important to take special precautions when choosing a cream to treat a rash.
The conventional wisdom that I read all over the Interwebs and cloth diaper forums is “Zinc Oxide creams are not cloth diaper safe.” By “unsafe,” people mean that these creams will cause your diapers to start repelling moisture, thus leaking, and/or they will cause stains.
Well, let me tell you: I like to live life dangerously. I’ve been happily using a cream with zinc oxide with my cloth diapers, and experiencing no problems.
Zinc oxide is a key ingredient in diaper creams because it forms a barrier between baby’s bum and moisture, thus either preventing a rash from reoccurring, or allowing the affected skin to heal. Many Moms turn to “cloth safe” coconut oil as a barrier cream, but it doesn’t protect the skin in the same way as zinc.
And what if zinc oxide weren’t actually the problem?
Well, it most likely is not! If you check out posts by Anne at Zephyr Hill Blog and Courtney at Diaper Wrecker, you’ll learn that it’s the other ingredients commonly found in zinc oxide-based creams that cause repelling in cloth diapers.
The problematic ingredients in diaper creams are those that cling to the diaper fabrics and are near impossible to wash out: the greasy, oily, water repelling ingredients.
Watch out for mineral oil, petrolatum (petroleum jelly, Vaseline), cod liver oil and paraffin in your chosen cream.
If your mother-in-law slathered Desitin all over baby’s bum and then put him in Jules, good luck getting it out! (Try a grease-fighting dish soap and a toothbrush, though.)
So what about Live Clean (Baby) Diaper Ointment?
Well, I’ve been using it happily with and without a fleece liner in our diapers.
On all of our natural fabric diapering supplies, it washes out without leaving a trace. For example, our overnight diapering “sandwich” is topped with an AMP 3-layer hemp booster. Sometimes Cub shows some redness in the creases due to exposure to wetness, so before bed I apply our Live Clean ointment, and in the morning, the redness is gone. When the hemp inserts come out of the wash, there isn’t a trace of ointment left on them. (I had to mark the one I used with Sharpie in order to tell which had come in contact with the ointment.)
Synthetic fibers are notoriously harder to launder, so I set out to specifically test Live Clean ointment on fleece and suede cloth. I had already been using Live Clean with all of my diapers on an as-needed basis without issue, but I figured you’d want more than anecdotal evidence!
I washed them with my regular diapers, using my regular routine, and the results were as I suspected: (By the way, I also put them in the dryer for this test.)
On the BumGenius, there wasn’t a hint of ointment. I couldn’t tell where the cream had been applied visually or by touching the fabric. I put an insert in and ran the diaper under water. There was no obvious repelling in any spots. Keep in mind that this diaper has been in contact with Live Clean before, and I have no leak issues with any of my diapers.
As for the fleece liner, where the cream had been applied was obvious, but only when I held the liner up to the light. (Straight out of the dryer, I couldn’t tell, aside from the remaining Sharpie marks.)
The fleece is definitely stained, but doesn’t seem to be otherwise impacted. If you pour water straight onto fleece, it all beads on the top anyway unless you apply some pressure. I ran the liner under the tap and them forced the liquid through with my fingers. I noticed no difference between the stained area and the rest of the liner.
Natural fibre diapers (cotton, cotton blended with hemp or bamboo): No stains, no repelling.
Suede cloth diapers (BumGenius 4.0, Funky Fluff Stay Dry): No stains*, no repelling.
*Because there are many factors that could influence how well Live Clean washes out of synthetic fibers (type of detergent, water temperature, amount of friction in the load of diapers), I recommend always using a fleece liner!
Fleece-inner diapers (AMP, AppleCheeks, most pockets): Leaves a stain, causes no repelling. For your fleece-inner diapers, I’d recommend using a cheap fleece liner (you can buy them, or make your own) just to avoid staining, if that’s something that concerns you. If you prefer disposable liners, they’ll probably do the trick, too, but since I don’t use them, I can’t say for sure. It’s possible that the stain created in my test above may come out in the sun, with Oxiclean or with Buncha Farmers, or even with subsequent washes. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s important to note that I wash my diapers with a “mainstream” detergent (Kirkland Free & Clear). If you are happily washing with a mild “cloth safe” soap, maybe you won’t have the same results because of the lack of deep cleaning power.
If you have a cream with the “unsafe” ingredients listed above, such as cod liver oil and petrolatum, I really caution against using it with your cloth diapers even with a liner. The cream is so heavy that it passes through disposable liners, and if a fleece liner shifts in any way, the cream will smear onto the diaper itself.
Most cloth diaper manufacturers caution against using any kind of cream with your diapers, so if you are concerned about warranty, make sure you have the facts.
About Live Clean:
Live Clean (Baby) Diaper Ointment scores a “1” from the EWG for the safety of its ingredients. Desitin products score between a 4 and a 6. I personally try to only choose products ranking between 0 and 3 for myself and for Cub!
Live Clean is sold at Walmart, Target and Shopper’s Drug Mart (and more, I’m sure), but you can also order it from Well.ca via my affiliate link!