It’s easy to find yourself in a quandary where parenting is concerned. Every stage and aspect of parenting requires a degree of decision-making, including diapering!
Ask any parent who’s been there and done all of that, and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Diapering is a substantial part of baby’s first year, requiring hundreds (if not thousands) of diapers.
Given the fact that awareness on waste generated by disposable diapers is constantly on the rise, this has led many more parents to opt for cloth diapers for their little ones.
Cloth diapering will need some getting used to, but once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, it’s a breeze!
So, let’s sort out of one of those ducks: diaper cream.
Whether you opt for cloth diapering or disposable diapers, rashes are bound to happen at some point or another.
Be it from a food sensitivity, a detergent-reaction, or irritation, diaper rashes are common in babies, and try as one might, quite unavoidable.
This is where diaper creams come in!
Diaper rash ointments, balms or lotions without zinc or petroleum are safe for cloth diapers.
That said, there are cloth diaper creams which you have to stay away from when cloth diapering, all of which we’ll be going through in this article.
Here’s all you need to know about the best diaper cream for cloth diapers.
Best Diaper Cream for Cloth Diapers – a Quick Look at Our Top 4 Recommendations
Note: When clicking on any of the below links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
- Thirsties Booty Love Diaper Ointment
- Organic Diaper Balm by Earth Mama
- Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy and Prevention Baby Ointment
- GroVia All Natural Magic Stick Baby Diaper Balm
Best Diaper Cream for Cloth Diapers – a More Detailed Look at Our Top 4 Recommendations
Here’s a more detailed look into each and every one of our favorite cloth diapering creams of today.
Thirsties Booty Love Diaper Ointment
This smooth ointment is Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth, and contains absolutely no petroleum or other ingredients that coat fibers and cause diapers to repel moisture and hold odors.
Here’s a quick list of ingredients it contains:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Oregon grape root
- Myrrh gum
- Yarrow herb
- Calendula flower
You can use this baby diaper rash ointment that comes packaged in a glass jar between diaper changes, as well as after finishing bathing your baby to help soothe that area and keep diaper rash at bay.
It’s not the cheapest stuff out there, but it lasts a long while because you don’t have to slather your baby’s diaper area with is. A little goes a long way!
All in all, you can rely on this for healthy baby skin, as well as diapers that smell great (even though it doesn’t have a scent to it) and clean even better (no issues with stains to be noted when cloth diapering, and it washes easily out of clothing, too!).
Because of the ingredients this is made from (you know they’re good when you can actually read them out loud without struggling to pronounce 3 letters in a row), you’re not just stuck with using this for diapering purposes, too.
In fact, you can even use it on some of your baby’s dry patches or any cuts and scrapes they might have.
So, if it’s of utmost importance for you to have a product with no chemicals that still works wonders for your cloth diapering needs, give this a serious consideration!
Organic Diaper Balm by Earth Mama
The Earth Mama’s Organic Balm is now 100% USDA Certified Organic, and the company prides itself with the fact that their product is made from ethically sourced organic beeswax that’s been gathered in a bee-centric manner.
Not only that, but their balm is dermatologist and clinically tested to make sure it doesn’t cause any sort of irritations on little ones, and is a choice widely used by hospital NICUs all over the country.
This product contains absolutely none of the following ingredients:
- No petroleum
- No parabens
- No artificial fragrance
Because of the fact that its made from all natural ingredients and is extremely effective, you can also use it as an ointment for cuts and burns, too.
Overall, it works perfectly fine on cloth diapers. You shouldn’t notice any repelling or smells whatsoever if used as intended, and I personally love the texture and consistency it has.
The key is to use a thin layer on your baby’s bottom, and not applying a whole lot, as you really don’t need to apply much. Just use a thin layer and you should be more than fine!
Usually, all you’ll need to do when you notice some irritation on your baby’s skin is to apply it once, and that irritation should be gone by the time your baby needs another diaper change.
When it’s time to give your cloth diapers a good cleaning, this balm washes out of diapers and cloth pads very easily. Because it washes off pretty easily, you don’t need to worry about the absorbency of your cloth diapers getting affected.
If your baby is one to get diaper rashes pretty frequently, you can rely on this balm to clear it away within a matter of a few hours.
One thing to note is that you might notice a bit of a strong natural smell when first starting out to use this product, but if you give it a bit of time, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly and it won’t bother you at all anymore.
Last but not least, and if you want to use this product for something other than your baby’s cloth diapering needs, you can use it as a multi-tasking skin salve for the entire family perfectly fine.
Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy and Prevention Baby Ointment
This pediatrician recommended diaper cream is manufactured in the United States in an FDA-registered laboratory, and is made from a hypoallergenic formula that’s specifically designed for babies with sensitive skin.
It’s a natural diaper rash cream that’s made from all natural ingredients, and works really fast to heal mild to aggressive diaper rash that already exists. It also protects against the development of diaper rash that hasn’t reared its ugly head yet.
It’s free from preservatives, parabens and phlalate.
Here’s a list of ingredients it contains, as stated by the manufacturer:
- Amber Petrolatum
- Insecticide-free, Anhydrous Lanolin
- Antioxidant Natural Vitamin E
- Cetyl Esters
- Derivatives of the Balsam plant of Peru (Ethyl Methylphenylglycidate)
You can use this ointment on both disposable and cloth diapers perfectly fine. It’s not anywhere near those messy white pastes you might have gotten discouraged from using during diaper changing.
If you want to get something that’s super easy for you to take with you on the go, this is an excellent choice. It comes in a small two-ounce, travel-size tube that easily fits inside diaper bags and carry-on luggage (if you’re traveling).
You can rely on this ointment to leave no stains whatsoever on your baby’s cloth diapers, if you use it as intended, and you should have no build up issues with it.
If you’re one to apply too much ointment on your baby’s irritated areas, it’s probably a good idea to use a liner with their cloth diapers.
Otherwise, if you use too much of this stuff (which you don’t need to), you’ll end up having to strip your cloth diapers when using this product without a liner.
None of that is a big deal if you’re unsure, though. Just grab a pack of good flushable liners you can find online, and you can be sure you’re protecting your cloth diapers from cream as much as is humanly possible.
This also makes it easier for you to clean after your little one’s poop!
It’s not the smoothest diaper rash cream for cloth diapers out there, it’s a bit on the thick side when coming out of the tube. However, once it’s out of the tube and makes its way on to your baby’s skin, it does thin out.
So, you should have no problems whatsoever smearing it well over your baby’s booty.
It’s also perfect if you’re looking to stay away from watery consistency that some oil based creams have, too.
GroVia All Natural Magic Stick Baby Diaper Balm
The GroVia all natural magic stick baby diaper balm is made with only natural and organic ingredients. It also includes non-nano Zinc Oxide.
It’s hypoallergenic, which means that it’s an excellent choice for the most sensitive baby skin. It can also be used with both cloth diapers and disposable diapers alike.
The following is a list of ingredients it contains:
- Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil
- Lavandula Angustifolia Essential Oil
- Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil
- Rosa Canina Fruit Oil
- Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil
- Butyrospermum Parkii Butter
- Calendula Officinalis Flowers (and) Olea Europaea Oil
- Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Essential Oil
- Anthemis Nobilis Flower Essential Oil
- Chamomilla Recutita Flower Essential Oil
All the natural oils mentioned in the list above help achieve a nice waxy coating.
I really like the fact that there’s a no-mess applicator that ensures you’re only applying the diaper balm exactly where you intend to, and that none of it gets on other places by mistake.
It’s also great that you don’t have to use either of your hands or any of your fingers to apply this stuff.
This helps provide immediate relief for your baby, and ensures the stick lasts you a longer period of time.
With all that being said, the material tends to be stiffer than what’s already mentioned on this list above. Oftentimes, it feels like you have to break it up with your finger first, especially when dealing with more severe rashes where you need to apply a thicker amount.
This is especially true if you don’t use it all that frequently, in which case it tends to dry out quickly and you might end up wasting quite a bit before you get to a fresh layer.
So, if any of this sounds like it could be problematic for you, stick with any of the other options mentioned on this list (especially the first two recommendations) that tend to have a much easier consistency to work with.
As far as cloth diaper safety is concerned, though, then this is as cloth safe as it gets, and it doesn’t leave any residue for you to struggle with when it comes time to give them a good cleaning.
If you know a mom-to-be that’s stocking up on GroVia cloth diapers before she gives birth to her baby, then this could be the perfect baby shower gift for her! The same holds true for you, as well.
A word of caution: If you plan on getting and using this for your child, and if you have more than one child in cloth diapers at home, please ensure that every baby in your household has their very own Magic Stick.
By doing this, you prevent diaper rash from happening since you’re stopping any possible transfer of irritation from one baby to another.
Is There Such a Thing as Diaper Rash Cream for Cloth Diapers?
Strictly speaking, no, there aren’t diaper creams that are manufactured for cloth diaper use only. However, there are diaper rash ointments that are great for cloth diapers, and others that are not.
You see, not all diaper creams can be used with cloth diapers. A number of ingredients widely used in diaper creams are oily and hard to get off diapers.
A buildup of diaper cream on cloth diapers will affect their absorbency, leading to pesky leakages. Some ingredients also cause staining, repelling or nasty odors.
There’s a reason why all of this happens. The very nature of diaper creams is to create a barrier on your little one’s bottom. The wrong diaper cream will also leave a barrier on your cloth diapers, compromising their effectiveness.
That said, cloth diapers made from natural fibers, such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo velour (not CBI), work well with all kinds of diaper cream.
You can use whichever cream you wish, as long as you use proper detergent and a hot water cycle. An appropriate wash cycle will keep petroleum products from building up on your cloth diapers.
What Makes a Good Diaper Cream for Cloth Diapers?
A good diaper cream for cloth diapers will not stain, cause repelling, or impact any of your cloth diapers’ absorbency.
Apart from this, you should also take into consideration these factors when shopping for cloth diaper cream:
Does This Get the Job Done?
What’s a diaper cream if it doesn’t achieve what it’s meant to?
Effectiveness is a key element – you wouldn’t want your little one exposed to an unnecessarily strong cream or one that’s too light for the severity of the rash.
Consider what you really need before purchasing. Are you getting a preventive cream to keep rashes at bay, or do you need something to treat an aggressive rash that already exists?
Is your baby’s skin super sensitive? In this case, it’s best to avoid fragranced creams, including those using essential oils.
Opting for a product that’s been approved by dermatologists or pediatricians ensures that it’s not harmful to your little one.
What Diaper Cream Ingredients Are Best for Cloth Diapers?
Diaper creams come in all sort of textures and formulations. Here’s what you need to know about the best diaper cream ingredients for cloth diapers.
When out shopping, look for diaper creams based on natural oils without zinc, or a zinc and water-based nappy cream.
A zinc oxide and water based cream will help soothe and heal the affected area. Anything below 15% zinc is considered to be safe for cloth diapers. Since it’s not oil-based, the zinc will not become trapped in the fabric.
Here’s a list of diaper rash cream ingredients that are safe for use on cloth diapers:
- Olive oil
- Zinc and water
- Chamomile oil
- Jojoba seed oil
- Shea butter
- Almond oil
Now that that’s all sorted out, let’s have a look at the ingredients you should avoid in any diaper cream you buy for cloth diapering purposes.
Ingredients to Avoid in Diaper Creams for Use With Cloth Diapers
Just because a diaper cream is advertised as cloth safe doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t take some serious elbow grease to get all remnants of it out when washing.
To ensure that the cloth diaper rash cream you’re buying is the most ideal product for your cloth diapers, avoid these ingredients:
Avoid: Zinc / Zinc Oxide
As noted by Hello Natural Living, the oil in zinc builds up on cloth diapers and gets trapped in.
With oil trapped inside, the diapers become less absorbent, and a leaky diaper is the last thing you need.
Zinc can also cause white or gray stains.
That said, anything below 15% zinc is safe. If you have used a product containing zinc, your cloth diaper will need a strip wash to get all residue out.
Avoid: Petroleum / Vaseline
Diaper creams with mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum, white or amber petrolatum, or Vaseline in the ingredients list are not safe for use with cloth diapers.
Petroleum jelly is simply a life saver when it comes to healing diaper rashes, however it’s not very kind on cloth diapers.
The thickness of petroleum blocks moisture from touching your little one’s skin, promoting healing.
This number one benefit is what kills on the cloth diaper front. Just as it repels moisture from skin, with time, the buildup will also repel moisture from diapers.
Petroleum is difficult to remove, even with hot water. It’s a pain to wash out of cloth diapers, especially ones made of synthetic fabrics, like microfiber.
With use, petroleum builds up on the fabric and the diapers become liquid repelling creatures, completely useless for absorbing urine.
If you’re adamant on using a petroleum-based diaper cream on your little one, place a liner on the cloth diaper to save it from ruin.
If you’re using reusable liners, wash these separately from cloth diapers to avoid the petroleum from running on them.
Avoid: Parabens and Preservatives
This applies to all diaper creams, regardless of whether you’re using cloth or disposables.
Parabens and preservatives have been found to lead to negative health concerns, including hormone disruption.
Products may contain a mixture of chemicals, some of which have been proven to act as strong sensitizers and allergens.
Other Harmful Chemicals to Avoid
The ingredients below often show up on diaper cream labels, but should ideally be avoided as well:
- Sodium tetraborate / Borax: While advertised as a ‘green’ ingredient, borax has been associated with several adverse health effects, including irritation and hormone issues.
- Talc – The World Health Organization (WHO) classified talc-based powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
- BHA – The National Toxicology Program classified BHA as “reasonably anticipated to a human carcinogen”.
- Phenoxyethanol – Both the FDA and the European Union label phenoxyethanol as safe, however the latter reports that using several products all containing a low dose could result in overexposure.
- Insecticide, lanolin, mineral oil and cod liver oil should also be avoided.
Wrapping it Up
Determining a diaper cream as ‘best’ depends greatly on your own personal situation, especially when you’re looking for something that’s suitable to use when cloth diapering.
The fabric of your cloth diapers and the extent of your baby’s skin sensitivity both play major roles when shopping for a suitable option.
That said, keeping in mind the ingredients we listed above (both those you should look for and the ones you’re better off avoiding) and the most important factors to consider, will ensure that you get this part of cloth diapering right!
No one wants to deal with any unnecessary stains and leakages, and you definitely don’t have to!