Let’s Talk About Diaper Rash

How do you take care of it without the use of zinc oxide products or other store bought diaper creams?  This is a real struggle for parents who use cloth diapers since creams build up in the fibers and diapers start to lose absorbency.

Plantago major. (Plantain). Photo credit: dspermaculture.wordpress.com
Plantago major. (Plantain). Photo credit: dspermaculture.wordpress.com

The Bare Bottom Solution
The best approach to diaper rash is… ditch the diaper! But seriously. As soon as your baby has had a bowel movement, clean and dry the bottom and let them get some fresh air. It’s best to let them go bare-bottom outside in the sunshine. To avoid a sunburn, let them go outside before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m. when the sun is most mild (the closer to sunrise/sunset the better). Don’t use sunscreens while they’re out during this time; this could aggravate the problem. Even 10 minutes of fresh, sunny air will help. If you’re concerned that they’ll burn, bring them inside. But, alas, we can’t let our little ones run diaper-less for too long… or else!(Cue sinister looking baby who may or may not poop on your carpet).

Cause and Effect
Before we get into some other natural approaches to diaper rash, let discuss a few of the potential causes and solutions:

  1. Irritating diaper detergents (solution: use a natural liquid soap);
  2. Digestive problems, via nursing mom or baby (solution: avoid spicy foods, citrus fruits, and other high-acid foods);
  3. Stress due to teething, fever, etc. (solution: pour yourself a cocktail – just kidding! That’s a whole separate topic)

Try a Good Probiotic
Whether or not you know the cause and are trying to eliminate it, you can also try giving your baby (and yourself, if you’re nursing) a good probiotic containing acidophilus. Consult with your health care professional for recommendations on a good brand and the right dosage.

You can also try any of the following remedies. If the rash is persistent, however, it could be a herpes-related virus or a yeast-type of fungus. In these situations, you would want to consult with your health care professional.

Traditional Herbal Remedies

Diaper Rash Powder
To help prevent diaper rash, you can make your own all-natural herbal baby powder. Here is the recipe from the herbal legend, Rosemary Gladstar:

2 parts arrowroot powder
2 parts white clay (check your natural food store)
¼ part comfrey root powder
¼ part slippery elm or marsh mallow root powder

Mix all these ingredients together in an old spice jar (something with a shaker top). For diaper rash, you can add 1/8 part Goldenseal powder, 1/8 part Myrrh powder, and 1/8 part Echinacea powder. The herbs should be organic, whenever possible so that pesticides are not contributing to the irritation.

NOTE: While cornstarch has been very effective, it’s not recommended for diaper rash that is yeast-related because it could make matters worse.

Diaper Rash Oil
Rosemary also has a recipe for a diaper rash salve. Here’s my adaptation to her recipe that makes an oil instead (no beeswax or double-boiler needed!):

1 part calendula flower
1 part comfrey leaf
1 part St. John’s wort flower
Organic olive oil

Mix the herbs together in a glass mason jar so that it’s filled ¾ of the way to the top (if using fresh herbs) or 1/3 full (if using dry herbs). Pour olive oil over the herbs to the top of the jar. Screw the lid on tight and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Shake once per day, every day for 1-3 weeks (depending on when you need it!). Strain out the oil (cheesecloth or a nut milk bag is good) and store the oil in a cool dark place. You may want to put it in a glass dropper container for easier use. Just rub this on the diaper rash and let it soak in as much as possible before putting the diaper back on.

Susan Wood’s Diaper Rash Heal
Place whole, clean, gently crushed fresh plantain leaves directly on the diaper rash as a poultice. Leave on overnight.

Soothing Oils
Dr. John R. Christopher and Cathy Gildeadi, authors of Every Woman’s Herbal suggested using mullein oil and plantain oil (or in ointment form). They say it “work wonders to soothe baby’s sore bottom”.

If you’re unsure where to find these herbs, consult with your local herbalist (there’s likely one near you!) or speak with the wellness consultant at your local health food store.



Ahlborn, Margaret L. “The Benefits of the Use of Plantain in Herbal Preparations.” Herbal Legacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2015.

Christopher, John R., and Cathy Gileadi. Every Woman’s Herbal. Springville, UT: Christopher Publications, 1987. Print.

Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2008. Print.

This information is not intended for the use of diagnosing any disease, condition or prescribing any treatment whatsoever. It is offered for informational use only, and for use in maintaining and promoting good health in cooperation with a licensed medical practitioner.  No responsibility is assumed by the distributors, author or publisher of this information should the information be used in place of a licensed medical practitioner’s services. There is no guarantee of any kind made for the performance or effectiveness of the preparations or methods mentioned on this web-site.

This information is to be used for educational purposes only.  This information has not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, nor has it gone through studies required before a particular product can be deemed truly beneficial or potentially dangerous.

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Why All In One Diapers?

AlHam l In One diapers are a recent development in the long history of cloth diaper usage. We have records dating back all the way to ancient Egypt that cloth was used in diapering the majority of infants. An AIO or All In One Diaper has really only been around for the last couple of decades. The diaper itself is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a one piece cloth diapering system where the waterproof cover is attached to the actual cloth itself. This means no pinning or fasteners and that there isn’t a need to buy a separate cloth diaper cover.

If you’re looking for economical this isn’t the cloth diapering system for you. Flats, prefolds, or flour sack towels can make cloth diapering cheap and easy without breaking the bank. An AIO will cost you a little more and a well-made One Size AIO can cost upwards of $18 a diaper. This may seem like a lot of upfront cost, but most all in ones with snap closures can easily last for +2 children. Even if they only make it through one child you will still be saving hundreds of dollars when compared to disposables.

We’ve been bragging a bunch about how simple the Thirsties AIO diapers are. There are a few reasons for this. AIO’s are usually the trimmest of all cloth diapering systems. There isn’t all that extra butt fluff when compared to a fitted or prefold. Though I must say I think the fluffy butt look is cute on a little baby 😉 Then again you have to buy a size up in pants because the diaper needs the room. Don’t forget laundry either. Since the diaper has to dry with a waterproof cover attached, drying times can be exceedingly longer then prefolds or flats.

AlO’s do offer convenience. They are simple to change when you’re in a rush. You don’t have to worry about carrying around pins or fasteners. I sometimes hate stuffing pockets when I’m in a hurry to get the laundry folded and with all in ones you don’t have to spend the extra time finding the inserts. It’s really easy to get the right fit on an AIO. You don’t have fold them or carry around extra absorbent layers. Did I mention you can find just about any color or print you could ever want in an AIO style?

You have to decide as a parent if you prefer the convenience over the higher cost when compared to other cloth diapers on the market. With so many cloth diapering choices out there it can be overwhelming. It’s always going to be a good idea to get a few of each kind before committing an entire cloth diaper stash to just one type of cloth diaper.

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Got Yeast? Disinfecting Your Cloth Diapers

Question: Do I need to throw out my diapers after a yeast infection?  We can’t seem to eliminate the yeast.

If your child gets a yeast infection just remember that you don’t need to get rid of your cloth diapers.  With some basic sanitizing and treatments you can be back to using cloth in no time at all.

Bleach is the easiest and most effective way to rid your cloth diapers from yeast.  You can use bleach on flats, prefolds, fitteds, and pocket inserts.  If you are using pockets or all in one diapers please contact the manufacture to make sure that bleach is safe to use on your diapers.   Do not use bleach on a regular basis since will cause your diapers to deteriorate slowly.

Just add a ¼ cup of bleach to your initial wash and wash on hot.  Make sure to rinse thoroughly.  When washing it is important to turn up your water heater to its hottest setting.  Typically yeast can’t survive in anything over 120 degrees Fahrenheit so if the bleach doesn’t kill the yeast the water temperature should.

Another natural way to effectively kill yeast spores is with grapefruit seed extract.  We suggest using 1tsp. of grapefruit seed extract in your normal wash cycle.  A lot of our customers who are anti-bleach have had great luck using it in conjunction with tea tree oil. If you choose to use tea tree oil we suggest about 10 drops of it used along with the grapefruit seed extract.  Once again make sure to rinse out the diapers extremely well.  You don’t need a yeast rash and irritation from the grapefruit seed extract on top of it.

If the manufacturer of your diapers opposes the use of bleach on their diapers you can always turn to vinegar or oxygenated bleach.  Add a ¼ cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle.  Vinegar neutralizes yeast and will leave your diapers feeling softer.  Make sure to do an extra rinse cycle after adding the vinegar since it can leave your diapers smelly if not completely rinsed out.  If using oxygenated bleach, just add the suggested amount to your normal hot wash cycle.  When using either vinegar or oxygenated bleach you should still turn up your water heater to ensure the yeast is eliminated.

Lastly, you can always sun your diapers.  Leave your diapers out in direct sunlight for as long as possible.  In addition to helping with yeast, the sun naturally helps remove stains from your diapers.  We would advise fluffing them up in the dryer afterwards since sunning diapers can make them non-absorbent if done regularly.

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Making Your Diapers Last Longer

Question: My prefolds seem to be wearing out extremely fast. Is there anything I can do to make my cloth diapers last longer?

Your cloth diapers will not last forever.  Just like your favorite t-shirt or sweater, fabric will eventually wear out.  We have few tips and tricks for giving your diapers a longer life so that you can resell them, re-purpose them, or have them for future children.

#1 The better the quality the longer they will last.  Spending a little extra money on diaper service quality prefolds versus generic store bought prefolds, will mean having your diapers last at least a 100 washes instead of 30-40.  Also, spending money on name brand cloth diapers versus a no name brand on closeout usually means higher quality materials and a better warranty on your diapers.  Keep in mind there are good deals out there to be found, but do your research before investing a brand you’ve never heard of.

#2 The more diapers the better.  You can get by with 16-24 diapers, but washing every other day can take a hard toll on your diapers.  Most parents slowly add to their diaper stash as time progresses so that you aren’t washing the same diapers every other day.

#3  Our love and hate relationship with hook and loop closures.  Sure aplix (hook and loop closures) give you more adjust-ability and are much simpler to put on baby.  However, aplix wears out much faster than snap closures.  Lint, hair, or random other materials from your house will get stuck in them making them not as sticky and unsecured on your baby.  The last thing you have time for is picking lint out of aplix tabs on your entire stash of all in ones, pockets, and covers.  Make sure if you do choose hook and loop closures that you use the supplied laundry tabs.  This will keep the aplix from sticking to other items in the wash and keep your closures lasting longer.

#4  Have a good washing routine.  By avoiding bleaches you can make your diapers last longer.  Sure, there might be an occasion where you need to add some bleach like for ammonia funk but using bleach daily will cause your diapers to wear out a ton faster.  When you use fabric softeners you risk the chance of buildup developing in natural fibers which causes repelling.  Then of course you have to strip your diapers usually requiring a ton of hot water washes just to make them useable again.  The less washes your diapers have to endure the longer the life span.

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