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Cloth Diaper Problems and Troubleshooting

Cloth Diaper Tech Support

By Amalah


You are probably totally sick of writing about cloth diapers by now but I am having some major issues. You were the one who inspired me to try it and the only one I “know” that does them. I am the first of my family and friends to have a baby and all of my husband’s family would laugh at me if they knew we were doing cloth diapers. The internet has been thoroughly unhelpful so you are my only and last hope.

We started out with just a few and we’ve been adding a few every month for the past 3 months. My stash is up to 14 diapers (but one turned out to be pink instead of red so I don’t use on my little boy). I have 3 Fuzzibunz One Size and 3 Fuzzibunz size mediums. I have 6 Sunbaby pocket one size diapers. I have 2 bumGenius that are my favorite. The bumGenius are lined with a different material than all the others and they don’t seem to bother his bum as much.

We started cloth diapering when my son was 3 months old and he is now almost 7 months. We started out with major sizing issues – We would put it on tight and he would get major red marks from the elastic. We would then put it one snap looser and he would blow poop out of the leg holes.

The next problem we’ve run into is his reaction to being in a wet diaper. If I do not change his every hour to hour and a half, he gets a horrible horrible rash on his poor little bum. I’m not kidding, I wish I could send a picture to show you how bad this rash can be. It breaks my heart every time I see it and hear his cries when I try to get it clean. I found a homemade recipe for diaper rash cream that seems to work well to heal it and is supposed to be safe for cloth. I just wish he didn’t get it in the first place! I know you are supposed to change cloth more frequently than disposable but every hour?!

I have a few guesses for why this happening: first, there is something wrong with the way I am washing them (Tide free in warm water, as recommended by the website and hang dry); second, I really do have to change his diaper every hour (which makes it hard to do full time because nighttime cannot happen); third, there is something in his diet (breastmilk and formula w/ some bananas or oatmeal if he’ll take it) or third, he’s reacting to the synthetic fibers.

Our final problem, related to the second, is nighttime. We started out using bumGenius with two inserts (the big one and the newborn). They worked okay when he was sleeping 6 hours at a time but now that he is up to 10 – 12 hours, he is soaked by morning. Not to mention we still have the problem with the rash from being in them so long.

Everything people say online about nighttime issues is about the soaking out, not the rash. I have done some research and am thinking about trying out some natural fibers like cotton and wool for nighttime to see if I can solve both problems. If it works I would sell my old stash and rebuild with natural fibers. However, the organic stuff is EXPENSIVE! And we do not have the money right now to be experimenting with $50 diapers. If I am going to do it, I want to be pretty sure this is my problem and this is how to fix it. (If you or your readers have any recommendations on natural fibers-some specifically for nighttime wear-with a lower price tag, it would be much appreciated.)

It took a lot of convincing to get my husband to agree to try cloth diapers and he supports my decision now that he has seen the savings on disposables. However, we are both loosing our resolve because of these issues. I really want cloth diapers to work for us but feel like they are trying very hard not to. This is my last hope before I just switch back to disposables, which he has no problems in.

~Trouble in Cloth

Okay. Let’s play Cloth Diaper Tech Support and see if we can troubleshoot here.

The first thing that jumped out at me was your detergent. I’ve never personally seen Tide Free listed as a good-for-cloth detergent. In fact, the “free & clear” liquid detergents usually land in the DO NOT USE column.  Granted, the Great Cloth Detergent Debate will probably rage until the end of time, so there’s not a whole lot of consistency or consensus on the advice. However! Anytime you’re dealing with a rash in cloth diapers, the detergent — no matter how highly recommended it may be — is usually Prime Suspect Number One. Then after that, it’s the laundering process. Are you getting them clean enough, is there detergent build-up/residue, etc.

The synthetic lining of your diapers SHOULD be acting as a moisture-wicking barrier, keeping your son’s skin feeling relatively dry even while the guts of the diaper are soaking. If that’s not happening and his pee is staying right up against his skin (thus requiring the uber-frequent changes)…well, that’s another sign pointing to a laundry problem. Detergent build-up in the fabric is preventing it from wicking properly. Fleece is more susceptible to this problem, in my experience, which is possibly why you’re noticing a difference between the fleece diapers and the bumGenius, which use suedecloth as the inner lining.

I have always used powdered Charlie’s Soap on my diapers, both on the synthetic and the natural fabrics. I run a cold soak (you can also do a cold wash cycle or rinse/spin, if your machine doesn’t soak), then wash them on HOT (not warm) with a small scoop of Charlie’s, followed with an extra rinse. Then I tumble dry. (I line dry in the sun occasionally for stains, but not that often, honestly.) So. That’s the first major change I’d recommend.

Next up would be to call your pediatrician during the worst of the flare ups and get him checked for a yeast or fungal infection. We’ve gone through this with all three of our boys: Chronic, awful rashes that heal only to come raging back in the worst way at the slightest exposure to dampness. (A yeast infection is particularly likely if your baby has had a round of oral antibiotics recently.) Regular rash creams can soothe the symptoms but are powerless to kill the root cause. We recently had use a combination of Lotrimin and hydrocortisone on Ike, then coat him with plain ol’ Vaseline while the skin finished healing.  Triple Paste is another good one for the Mega Rashes too. And yes, we used disposables the whole time (about a week), because while I may be your friendly neighborhood cloth fanatic, I’m not crazy. Cloth diapers aren’t perfect. Neither are disposables. Each have their time and place.

Now, as for the synthetic vs. natural fibers. I used all synthetic on Ezra (FB and BG) and had almost zero issues. BUT I’ve since switched my stash over to all cotton because I got tired of the microfiber stink and the repelling fleece/suedecloth and I was stripping my cloth diapers more and more as they aged. I wanted fitted diapers because I was annoyed by ongoing fit problems in the one-size styles, similar to the ones you described (red marks from elastic vs. leaks and blowouts), but using fitteds in anything other than basic cotton was completely cost-prohibitive. I don’t use organic cotton, but instead go with unbleached cotton prefolds and Workhorse fitteds from Green Mountain Diapers. These are the best diapering value I have honestly come across, because they are WONDERFUL diapers. For nighttime, I add cotton Workhorse doublers (two of them equal one of the big microfiber inserts), and I’ve also bought a variety of cotton velour and hemp inserts/doublers on Amazon that add a ton of absorbency without much bulk. For moisture wicking at night, I use Bummis fleece liners.

The prefolds and Workhorses do require covers. I use PUL covers by Thirsties during the day, then opt for a pair of wool pants at night. Wool is expensive (which is why I recommend searching Etsy rather than buying name-brand wool — you can even find shops willing to charge you for construction only if you provide an old 100% wool sweater to use), but for nighttime use only you only need to buy one or two covers. Just let them air dry during the day and reuse as needed. I wash my wool about one a month, if that, or if poop gets on it (which is pretty rare at night these days).

But swapping out your stash is probably step three or four here. I think it’s MUCH more likely that your detergent and laundry process is leaving irritating residue behind. You’ll probably want to strip your cloth diapers (wash over and over and over on hot with no detergent). A little baking soda or white vinegar might be a good call too, depending on what kind of water you have. (I personally run into problems whenever I try additives like soda, vinegar or Oxy, alas. I think we have very weird water, though.) I like Rockin’ Green detergent for stripping purposes the best, but other people swear by it for everyday washing over Charlie’s too. And I’m serious about getting him checked for some kind of recurring thrush or yeast infection.

But look: There’s no sense in torturing your baby. We can all swear to use or do all kinds of awesome, high-minded things (cloth diapers! exclusive breastfeeding! 100% homemade organic everything), and then have to hit the brakes once we meet our particular brand of baby. Who maybe has a ton of skin allergies or refuses to latch on or turns up his nose at 99.9999% of the foods you offer, save for Ritz crackers and string cheese. You give it all your best shot but in the end, you gotta do what works for him and your family. If cloth isn’t it, that’s okay too. No one is going to come take away the Mom of the Year medal that no one ever gave you in the first place.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Susan

    May 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I second Amy on the Charlie’s Soap. I’d like to add: 1. naked baby time (cloth diaper covers are often not very breathable), 2. occasionally wipe with a solution of 1 tbsp baking soda in 1 cup of water (will ward off or clear up any yeast infection) and 3. disposable night-time diapers (so then you can use the ‘big guns’ diaper creams overnight).  I totally agree with Amy, we can only ride the organic-homemade-healthy train for so long before we have to just give in to what makes sense and saves our sanity. Good luck!

  • Holly

    May 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Oh yes, WRONG DETERGENT. I love the Rockin’ Green detergents – I can get one specifically for hard water. Amy’s recommendation for the washing routine is what I do too. I also have a recommendation for nighttime – I used a BG velcro cover, a BG Flip Organic insert (which must be prepped separately a few times by washing before put to use) + a newborn insert stuffed inside. Then I top it with a microfleece liner (they come in a pack of 6 from Bummis). The liners are also good for when poops get more solid and predictable, then you can easily pick it up and flick the poop off or swish more easily in the toilet if necessary. For later ammonia-heavy pee issues, Rockin’ Green has an ammonia bounce that is fantastic for your pre-wash. The pediatrician told me that regular diaper creams can actually make a yeast rash *worse*, so make sure that’s not what you’re dealing with before you keep slathering creams on his bum.

  • EmilyG

    May 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    My son had recurring yeast infections that sound a lot like what you are describing… the rash was just awful. I know how you feel– I’d cry while wiping his poor little bottom. I ended up boiling all of our diapers to kill the yeast, stripping them, and switching to Charlie’s soap. He was in disposables for about a week, and we’ve been fine since. Good luck!

  • Karen

    May 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I also use Charlie’s and Rockin Green. I find the RG to be much better on synthetic fibers for our super hard water out here in CA. My kids don’t get red in cloth often but it’s happened usually when I buy a used diaper that was washed in something nasty. Not sure what is in your diaper friendly cream, but Aquaphor works great and is fine to use with cloth. I know it’s not the cheapest out there, but I used one single small container for two years. At the first sign of red, I put some Aquaphor on. If the red isn’t gone in 24 hrs then it’s yeast and out comes the Miconazole and that’s the end of that. And I also move up to paper dipes with a wool cover from Etsy when my kids start sleeping longer than 6 hours. And if there is a “I Hate One Size Diapers” club, then I want to be the president of it. I use sized GMD prefolds with sized Thirsties covers and sized Fuzzibunz and that’s it. The only time I have leaks is when my kiddos are transitioning from one size Fuzzi to the next. Good luck mama and hope this post helps!

  • Kate

    May 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I will chime in and say that Tide isn’t *necessarily* the worst thing in the world for your diapers — I use it in combination with Rockin’ Green (usually alternative washes with each). I’ve found that Rockin’ Green is awesome on stink but sucky for stains, so the combo works for me (it did take me three years to figure that out though!). BUT, Amy is right that detergent is the prime suspect for any rash issues, so try changing it up to a “cloth diaper friendly” detergent and see what happens. Also, the fact that your son is less bothered in the BG diapers leads me to think he’s reacting to the wetness. The fabric that lines the BG diapers is called suede cloth, and, IME does do a better job than fleece at feeling dry even when the inserts are wet. You could either switch to all BG or you could go to JoAnn’s or another fabric store and buy suede cloth by the yard and cut up long strips to uses as liners — between the diaper and your baby’s skin. A couple other things: I change my kids every 3ish hours, so I wouldn’t think you’d really need to change every hour. what a pain that would be! And last, the nighttime soaking issue — with both my kids, they reached a point between 3 and 6 months when pocket diapers just didn’t work anymore. I simply couldn’t stuff enough inserts in them to hold all night without the diaper gaping at the legs from being so stuffed. We made the switch each time to fitteds with wool for overnight and have had great success. Good luck!

  • Brittany

    May 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Amen to that last paragraph!

  • AmyRenee

    May 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I don’t cloth diaper, but I can speak to 2 issues:

    1) if it’s a yeast rash, only washing on warm is not enough to kill the yeast. You need at least 120F to start to kill yeast, and 140F to completely kill yeast. Does your washer heat the water for you or does it only use water as hot as the water heater delivers? If it’s only as hot as the water heater delivers and you have a long run from heater to washer, iit’s not going to be hot enough. I know some moms that boil their inserts for persistent yeast issues.

    2) Charlie’s Soap will work best if you use it for ALL your laundry, not just cloth diapers. Other detergents can leave a rsidue in your washer, so even if you are washing your cloth diapers with Charlies, it may not work as well unless you do ALL your laundry it it (and you only use tiny amounts, so 1 container lasts my family of 4 2+ months). We also stopped using dryer sheets and fabric softeners when we went to Charlie’s Soap, and with the exception of a few fleece jackets that were static-y even with dryer sheets, we’ve had no issues with static.

  • Hillary

    May 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    UGH – been there!!!! I really hope that these suggestions help. I agree on the detergent, to start, but mostly I just wanted to offer empathy on the rashy bum. My daughter is super sensitive and anything on her skin for long leads to a rash. Sadly, it is worse with cloth and, for the record, about 100x worse when I tried cloth fitteds instead of the synthetic FuzziBunz. Turns out the FB WAS doing excellent wicking and the ammonia in her pee up close to her skin was kind of burning her. I gave up on cloth overnight and just use a paper diaper with a generous helping of aquaphor. This holds rashes at bay so that even if she gets a little irritated from the cloth during the day, her bum can recover overnight.
    My other suggestion, as an alternative to stripping the detergent residue/ammonia build up from your dipes is BOIL! I boiled all of my microfiber diaper inserts and was very satisfied with the results. It is more cumbersome, but also much more effective than traditional stripping. You can be 100% sure you’re DONE and that you got all the detergent out, etc. etc. Just boil a vat of water, open up the windows bc it will stink, and do about 4 inserts at a time for 10 minutes (if you have a bigger tub to boil water in, you can do more inserts. Just leave enough room that they will all be covered by the water). Drain the nasty water and repeat. It took me several hours, but that is still less time than it takes me to strip dipes. Transfer the boiled inserts to your washer and once everything is boiled, wash your diapers with your typical laundry routine. TA DA! The dipes should be way more absorbent as a result.

  • Hillary

    May 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Just wanted to add that IME aquaphor is NOT compatible with CD (I use FB and Flips).

  • Hilary

    May 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with the previous comments about the laundering being the most likely culprit. Switching to a cloth-friendly powdered detergent like Charlie’s or Rockin Green is great, but you may also have residue from your dryer (if you use fabric softener on your regular laundry) transferring to your diapers. We switched to wool dryer balls exclusively for all our laundry and love them and we also use the same detergent for all our laundry. In addition to checking with the doctor about the rash and figuring out your night diaper routine, you probably need a re-start on your diapers. Start by cleaning your washing machine and dryer (there are some great laundry tips at Strip your diapers by doing wash after wash after wash with the hottest water your washer will allow until you see no suds in the water. Once a month, I turn up the temperature on my water heater for a load of cloth diapers (making sure, of course, to turn it back down before anyone burns themselves). Our 6 month old son goes between 3 and 4 hours during the day between diaper changes–we exclusively use Bum Genius pockets–and if you are only getting an hour out of a diaper, then absorbancy is your main issue, which hopefully all these laundry tips will solve. Best of luck! And, don’t get discouraged. No matter where you live, I highly recommend contacting the owners of Happy Baby Company for additional help. They have been an honest, knowledgeable resource for me!

  • bethany actually

    May 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I agree, address the detergent/washing issue first, and take the baby to the doctor to make sure it’s not a yeast infection! My older daughter had one of those once and it was AWFUL.

  • Kari

    May 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    We used Charlie’s Soap for about 8-9 months and then, for some reason, after my son had a rash he was too sensitive to Charlie’s Soap. Who knows. Since then, we have been using Tide Ultra. (Or Ultra Tide? Whatever. It has both of those words on the box.) I have heard not to use the free-and-clear type things. I do a warm pre-rinse instead of a cold one as well. I will also say that we have mostly BumGenius but a few FuzziBunz and I kind of hate the FB. They leak much more for us. I cannot figure out those stupid elastics.

  • AJU5's Mom

    May 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I will second (and third, etc) Amalah’s recommendations. Detergent and synthetic fibers would be my first guesses, with a yeast-type rash being my next guess if those don’t work. I actually love flats with covers ebcause they wash and dry so well. And they are cheap! I pad fold mine and just lay them in a cover – easy! There are cotton and hemp ones out there (we use cotton during the day and one of each at night), and they work great for my kids.

    Oh, and I agree that Tide isn’t ALWAYS bad, but it just depends on your water, etc. I use regular Tide in my short wash and Tiny BUbbles (from GroVia) for my full wash. This works great for us in keeping the stink and such away.

  • Myriam

    May 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    We use BumGenius one-size with my 18-month old daughter. When she gets a yeast rash, it usually looks red, with spots, kind of like this I switch to disposables, and use Canesten for a few days, with every diaper change. By the way, you can also use Canesten cream in a baby’s mouth for thrush. Check with your pharmacist or ped on the age recommandation, but I used it 3 months ago for a white tongue with awful breath that turned out to be yeast in the mouth. I mention it because it is possible for yeast to move from the mouth to the other end through the digestive track. If it is indeed yeast, I do agree to boil or strip your diaper. As for nights, we use disposables. Good luck!

  • Jesabes

    May 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    My little guy has terribly sensitive skin and, unfortunately, only non-CD safe creams have ever been able to help. We use cloth diapers at home and disposables when he goes to daycare. Our biggest problem with the cloth is we often don’t notice when he’s dirty, since the diapers are so thick. Any time he spends with an unchanged dirty diaper beyond a few minutes gives him a rash, so he almost always develops a rash over the weekend. Heavy cream use in the disposables clears it up. If you haven’t tried it (but I’m sure you have) we slather coconut oil on him before each cloth diaper and it does seem to protect his skin enough that wet diapers no longer irritate it. It doesn’t treat rashes, though (for us), just protects the skin.

  • Mary

    May 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    For the nighttime diapers, I would highly suggest a hemp doubler. We had to start using those for our son around 4 months due to his very heavy wetting. I use a BG shell, stuffed w/ the large BG insert and a thin hemp insert. Soaks up everything, and the inserts are only about $3 each, which isn’t too much if you only need enough for nighttime.

  • tasterspoon

    May 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Great timing on this question! My daughter has had recurring diaper rash in cloth since the beginning and we’ve been doing it now for 18 months. (Laundry-wise, we spray, pre-wash, wash with Charlies and double-rinse along with all the other laundry and when using cloth we use either no goop at all or a swipe of coconut oil.) We have stuck it out by switching to disposables and Desitin (plus the occasional antifungal if it’s really raw – the ped can tell the difference, but I cannot) till she clears up. It tends to crop up during the week, so we blame day care and the frequency-of-changing issue OP notes. I change her every couple of hours during the weekend using cotton prefolds (rather than her usual BG) and she’s usually good as new by Monday.

    My husband isn’t that thrilled about my cloth fetish, and will use only disposables at night (although when he’s away I have put her in doubled cloth and she is fine – I’m not overly concerned about overnights because our ped said that it’s the mixture of poo and pee that causes the irritation). But he insists she wakes up more in cloth because she ‘feels’ wet, which could be true. It’s hard to tell.

    Anyway, this past week she’s had a heinous rash – she doesn’t want to sit down in the tub, I even spied little blisters – and I’m at a loss. I thought for sure it would clear up over the long weekend when we changed her all the time. She is getting a couple of molars, and our day care lady has said it might be diet (she’s on a mango kick lately), and it occurs to me I haven’t sicced the Clotrimazole on it, but my goodness it is heartbreaking and I feel so helpless.
    So I’ll be pursuing some of these tips, boiling the diapers (do I boil just the inserts or the BG covers as well?), maybe skipping the Desitin in favor of antifungal only. I am actually knitting a wool cover as we speak in the hopes it’ll make some kind of difference ($50 is rich for me, too), but I have never felted anything (we have a front loading washer so I guess I have to do it by hand) and am a little fuzzy on the leak-stopping properties and how to add lanolin after washing so that one is admittedly a long shot.

    • Carolyn

      May 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      See below for my response 😉

      • tasterspoon

        June 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm

        This wasn’t even my question but I had to come back to thank all the commenters for every thoughtful response. This weekend I boiled all my cotton prefolds and microfiber inserts and bleached all the covers and hung it all in the sunshine to dry. Our daughter got a baking soda bath every night. We used clotrimazole morning and night and disposables all weekend. And this morning the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad rash was FINALLY gone. (I also finished her wool pants and ordered some fitted cotton inserts from GMD, but I guess that’ll be strictly for weekends, because that seems like a lot to ask of daycare.)

        I love learning about eyeliners and shaving cream as much as the next person, but this column really saved my bacon.

  • MR

    May 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I agree it sounds like they need to be stripped and you need a different detergent. I also have never used cloth for overnight. After several attempts, even with doublers, my baby and her clothes and crib were wet, so I use a disposable every night. It is just a diaper a day, so they actually aren’t that expensive. She is 12 months now and my mil recently put her to bed in a cloth diaper instead of the disposable, and baby didn’t overfill the diaper, so I might have to revisit that, but it simply wouldn’t have worked when she was younger. There were times she overfilled a disposable diaper back then. I have well hydrated babies I guess. 🙂
    Anyway, definitely see if it is a yeast rash, and boil the diapers before using them again after LO is treated. Also, try using this spray to clean LO at each change:
    You can find it at Target, and one bottle can be diluted with water to make two bottles worth, so it really lasts. There is a little tea tree oil in there, so it works to keep rashes at bay. It is great! We have not had any rash problems for my LO since I started using it and switched soaps. That was about 5 months ago. I bought 2 bottles of the spray and diluted them both back then. I still have a full bottle of diluted spray. It lasts!

    • Carolyn

      May 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      You generally don’t want to boil anything with snaps or PUL, so just boil the inserts (but if you have any inserts with PUL backing, like Grovia, I wouldn’t boil those! But standard microfiber inserts, or prefolds or flats are fine to boil!)  Just be prepared for the smell – make sure you can open windows and turn on vans, because WOW, microfiber can really hold in a stink! 😉

      Also, plenty of people have great luck with Charlie’s, but there are lots of people who don’t (I was one of those – even our normal laundry started to develop barnyard stink because it wasn’t getting them totally clean!) If you’ve had a rash issue for 18 months that only happens with cloth and not sposies, you might want to try a different detergent sometime, also. 

      • Carolyn

        May 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

        AH, so sorry! That response belonged to the comment ABOVE this one, I clicked some weird buttons and now I can’t fix it! Sorry for the confusion!

  • Carolyn

    May 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    What strikes me is that you have better luck with the BGs, and if someone has a sensitivity to synthetic fabrics, it’s most commonly to the suedecloth, which is what lines those diapers. So I don’t think it sounds like a fabric issue – using more breathable diapers certainly wouldn’t hurt anything, but I’d start with the smaller changes you could make before you worry about swapping out your whole stash. 🙂

    I agree that you should probably have the doctor look at the rash, just to be able to rule that out. And I agree that the likely culprit has to do with your wash routine, but we need a lot more info from you to figure it out 🙂

    1 – Are you having any kind of smell or stink issues? Do the diapers smell like ammonia when the pee hits them? (As opposed to after sitting in the diaper pail for a while – that is totally normal!)

    2 – Is your baby sensitive to commercial detergents or other products? I’ve used Tide for ages now with better results than any CD safe detergent I’ve tried, but my baby isn’t prone to rashes. Tide Free is generally not rated as well as standard Tide is (based on user survey results at but if your baby is super sensitive, even Tide Free might have too many “other” ingredients for him.

    3 – How much detergent do you use?

    4 – What kind of water do you have? (Is if soft? Hard? This actually makes a HUGE difference to your laundry routine!) If you have soft water, you’ll need less detergent and lots of extra rinses to get the detergent out. If you have hard water, though, you need MORE detergent (and maybe the addition of some washing soda or Calgon to soften the water and let the detergent do it’s job). If you have soft water, the likely culprit is detergent build up, if you have hard water the likely culprit is that your diapers aren’t getting clean (microfiber inserts can be difficult in either scenario. Boiling them is a great idea. 

    Finally, try some hemp inserts for your diapers overnight (or even during the day, to extend the length of time you should be able to go between diaper changes) – they are usually pretty trim for the amount of fluid that they can absorb (they hold more than microfiber) and you don’t get compression leaks. The best combo is usually a microfiber insert backed by a hemp insert (or 2, if your baby is THAT heavy of a wetter!) Thirsties hemp inserts work well and are a better bargain than most other brands (you get 2 for what most companies charge for 1) and are easy to find at most CD stores or even just Amazon.

    Surprisingly I could go on for even longer, but my own little boy is really not pleased with my being on the computer 😉 Good luck!! I hope you come back to share an update! Laundry is the HARDEST part of cloth diapering for most people – once you find a routine that works for you, life gets much simpler (it just usually takes a fair amount of trial and error until then!) Also, the message board at has some GREAT threads on laundry issues, and I’ve found the community there to be AMAZINGLY helpful with pretty much any question you can come up with! So if you need future CD advice and Amalah is busy answering “serious” reader emails, try them 😉

  • Katie

    May 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I’m going to admit my cloth diaper shame, but here it goes:

    For my first, our “night stash” that actually worked was 6 thirsties duo fitteds (3 small, 3 medium), two Disana covers (one smallish one, one medium-large), and two packages of hemp doublers. Total cost? About $180, probably a little more, because I rounded down on everything.

    The cost for 750 disposable diapers, at $.20 a diaper? (which is actually a little high–you can get it to $.16/diaper if you buy at Costco when they have a coupon special on diapers)–is $150. So for baby number two, we do cloth pretty much exclusively during the days, but at night? He’s slathered in A&D (my preventative cream of choice) and slapped in a disposable. And we are all perfectly happy 🙂

  • danielle

    May 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Baking soda in the bath water is magic for yeast diaper rash!

  • Jenn S

    May 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    one other thing if it does turn out to be a yeast infection…you also need to treat the cloth diapers so that they don’t keep getting reinfected with yeast.  our local cloth diaper store (Diaper Lab in MA) told me to wash our prefolds once in 1/4 cup bleach when any yeast infection happens (we wash, and then switch to disposables until the infection is gone).  for anything but prefolds you’ll probably have to use color-safe bleach

  • Olivia

    May 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I use fuzzi bunz and wash in Rockin Green, and I use disposables at night since I can’t be arsed to change a diaper at night more than once. 

  • Karen

    May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I have only ever used the Tide Free, and it has been wonderful, even if it isn’t usually recommended.  HOWEVER, if you’re going to use it, you have to follow Amy’s suggested laundry routine (cold wash, hot wash, hot rinse), or you will absolutely get a detergent residue build-up in the diapers, which could easily lead to diaper rash.  But it’s probably a good idea to switch detergents anyway, just in case the Tide is the problem.

  • Chris

    May 30, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I use Bum Genius diapers and I wash them in regular Tide (around the 1 line for amount) without any problems. Like Amy I always see Tide Free on the DO NOT USE lists. If there’s a bunch of bad poopy ones in there I add a scoop of OxyClean to the soap wash, and once a month I add 1/3 cup of regular bleach after the soap wash, with an extra rinse after. A typical wash night for diapers is a cold wash, hot wash with soap, extra hot wash to rinse thoroughly. That’s what I read recommended on the BumGenius site and it works for us. Good luck to you! I love using cloth and I was so nervous to start, I hope it works out for you.

  • Chris

    May 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Oh I also wanted to say that my son is 8 months old and a month or so ago we had to start using an overnight disposable at nighttime because he was leaking through so badly, even with a doubler insert and TWO of the infant ones added to his diapers. It works great for us, and we go through them so slowly just using one at night.

  • Julie

    May 30, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Yeah, I had similar rash problems with my son when I was using All Free and Clear – in our case it was mainly around the belt and waist, which pointed me towards it being something from the diaper and not from the urine directly. A little research led me to discover that the “free” detergents often have enzymes in them, which is great for cleaning because they attack and break down the organic matter in the wash. But when they are left in residue on a diaper and are activated by the diaper getting wet, they attack the organic matter of the poor kid’s skin. I switched to Charlie’s Soap and never had that rash problem again.

  • BoCo Mama

    May 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Simple – wool soakers! My absolute favorites are by Grateful Buns on Etsy – check out the “underwater” ones for nighttime. We had the same rash issues…until we switched to wool. 

  • Dottie

    May 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

    One detergent that I have seen good reviews for is the Publix brand free and clear, if you’re in an area with Publix groceries. That’s what I use (and, granted, I’ve only been CD’ing for about a month), but I’ve had zero problems with rashes OR microfiber stink OR fleece repelling.
    One thing I’ve done to try and prevent rashes is to put some tea tree oil in the solution I use for wipes. I don’t need my post-partum peri bottle any more, and found it makes the PERFECT wipes solution bottle; I can mix it up in the bottle and just squirt it on my cloth wipes when I need it. I put one quick squirt each of baby soap and baby oil, add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil, and fill it up with water.
    But really, the BEST THING EVER is this:
    My LC gave me a “recipe” for the much-praised All Purpose Nipple Ointment, and said it was also an absolutely perfect diaper rash cream. It’s one part each Neosporin (anti-bacterial cream), Jock Itch Cream (anti-fungal), and Hydrocortizone cream (for a little itch/pain relief). Mix it up a little at a time, and keep it in an airtight container like a pill bottle or something. Like I said, we haven’t had any rashes, so I haven’t tried it yet… but she swears it works miracles.

  • Liz

    May 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Ever since i switched to BG detergent, my dipes are much better. I also have a rashybaby, and i found that after i did a  load with chlorine free bleach, his rashes have basically stopped. I am planning to do that monthly (as suggested for our bg dipes) from now on!

    Also, if stripping your diapers at home seems overwhelming, you might look to see if theres a diaper service in your area that will do it. Here in St Louis, babycare diaper service will pick up your whole stash, leave you 40 prefolds and covers on loan, and bring back your stripped diapers 4 days later for about $25. I havent tried it yet, but i imagine i will eventually. Good luck Mama!

  • Katie

    May 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    We use Nellie’s Washing Powder for our BGs.  I got all of mine CDs used, and I know several of them have been through at least two kids already.  No problems with Nellie’s for us, and it’s a lot less expensive than the CD-specific detergents, but approved for CDs.

    For rash, we also have a drop of tea tree oil in our wipe solution to keep it at bay, but the biggest aid has been giving her bare butt time, especially after each wet dipe comes off.  5+ min of air time during each change has cleared up rash for our baby (who was having allergic reactions to things in the beginning) within 6-12 hours of the onset without using any creams. 

  • Shenoah

    May 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    We had the EXACT same problem with our daughter after switching to cloth. After ruling out everything else as the cause of her rash (we’re talking actual ulcer-like sores!) we found a solution: her diaper would smell REALLY strong of ammonia when she woke up each morning. We finally realized that having that super-concentrated pee next to her extra-sensative skin for so long each night (even with fleece wicking layers) was causing the problem. We switched to Huggies overnight disposables (with a good layer of Desitin that you an’t use with cloth) and haven’t had a problem since. We still do all cloth during the day, so our savings are still great and our environmental impact still low. We feel it’s worth the compromise for the sake of our daughter’s skin.

  • Corinne

    May 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Oh cloth diaper triage…

    Here’s my suggestions:
    Try some extra virgin coconut oil on the rash. It’s CD compatible (don’t use too much on the pockets though or it can cause some repelling, it’s still an oil, but it will wash out with hot water). It’s a natural anti-fungal and can help with yeast.

    Switch detergents. Also, strip your diapers. RLR is great for this, as is Rockin Green Funk Rock. Maybe a little bleach. Lots of hot rinses. Get all of that residue out of there.

    Find a used diaper swap, there’s one on Babycenter, tons on Facebook, also diaperswappers. Pick up a good nighttime fitted. My favorites are bububebe (B4) fitteds, but Pooligans and Sustanablebabyish (Sbish) are also supposed to be really good. Buy it used, look for something in the $10-$15 range. Get a wool cover – you can get upcycled wool covers really affordably on etsy. Look for something in the $10-$15 range as well. Or buy some used wool covers on a swap, look for the $5-$10 range ideally. Cover butt in coconut oil and see how that works for nighttime. If it doesn’t work, sell them back on a swap for basically what you paid, especially if you only used them a couple times.

  • Dr BS

    May 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    While we don’t cloth diaper (tried it & hates it) i did make my guy some wool pants for under his snow pants last winter.  It was super easy.  Just sew together the sleeves of an old 100% wool sweater ($3 at goodwill) and add an elastic waistband.  The whole thing cost about $5 and took maybe a half hour.  Plus now my kid has cashmere underwear for skiing!

  • Francesca

    June 1, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Cost is also an issue for me! I use two-parters at night because they are just amazing: TotsBots fitteds (I’m in the UK) with either a wool soaker or just PUL pockets from ebay which are 12 for £50 or something ridiculously cheap. (Although as the baby grows, they are not going to fit over her nappies for much longer, so ARGH must buy some new wraps.)

    As for fleece liners, I bought a fleece blanket for under £3 and cut it into the right shape. Fleece doesn’t fray! I made 14 before I got super bored, and that has been enough (I wash every 1-2 days but don’t have a tumble dryer.)

  • Gidget

    June 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that you won’t put a pink diaper On your baby boy?

    • Olivia

      June 4, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Nope, my boy is wearing pastel and hot pink as well as lavender diapers his sister wore. I wonder if the OP thinks it will shrink her baby’s testicles.

      • Susan

        June 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

        Ha! I bought four used gDiapers off eBay without reading the description – they turned out to all be various shades of pink tie-dye. I’m sure both my boys will turn out to be gay Deadheads because of it.

        • gidget

          June 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

          ha. I mean, I guess I understand not putting a boy in pink or girly CLOTHES, but a diaper??? Really?

  • Antje

    June 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    My girl will pee through any cloth diaper I’ve put on her overnight, so we just use disposables for night.  It’s not too bad cost-wise and not the worst thing environment-wise, because we’re only using one per day.

  • Wallydraigle

    June 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Country Save detergent is pretty awesome, too. I started with Charlie’s and loved it, but it’s absolutely awful out here in Utah, and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of extra money on laundry booster. So we switched to Country Save with Calgon.

    Also, Econobums! They are fantastic diapers. I have used the covers with both prefolds and with fitteds. I got a bunch of sustainablebabyish fitteds for free, and they’re amazing, but really expensive. Just prefolds and covers worked fine for a while; just don’t accidentally strip your covers. I love cloth diapers, so I’m always picking them up for fun just to try out, and none of them compare to Econobums, to be honest. They fit really well over almost anything I put on my daughter, and they’re really inexpensive.

    As for the red marks around the legs, unless the baby seems uncomfortable, that’s totally okay. It’s like marks from wearing underwear. All of my clothing leaves marks on me, and I’m an adult. Babies have skin that marks much more easily, so some marking isn’t a problem.

  • wallydraigle

    June 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Yeast is pretty easy to spot once you’ve seen it for yourself. If it is yeast, you don’t need to go to the doctor. It’s treatable with some clotrimazole (lotrimine) mixed with diaper rash cream, just to keep it on. Twice per day until it’s cleared up and all the satellite lesions (small dots on other parts of the body that don’t look like part of the rash) are gone.

  • Alexia

    June 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    A few things that have worked for us (we’re going on 12 months now!)

    – We use BG pockets, one size

    – We wash with EcoSprout and have never had a stink or repelling problem

    – We also use 1/4 cup of bleach about once a month to deal with stinks (as recommended by BG)

    – For diaper rashes (which we have had thankfully very few of) we use the Grovia Magic Stick… it’s simply amazing

    – For overnight, we have a seriously heavy wetter and have been through a few attempts to find something to keep up with all of that liquid. Currently our best option is a BG pocket stuffed with a SuperDo overnight insert… it’s part hemp, part microfiber, a little pricey but totally worth it.

    – The last thing we found, while attempting to keep LO from waking up at night soaking wet, you have to be careful to get the diaper on right. Gaps = Leaks

    Hope there was something in there that might be a help to someone else!

  • HomeValley

    June 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

    This is so timely for me! We are running into the same issue. Our son is 2 and we’ve been using BG and FB since he was 2 months. The rashes lately have been worse and worse, and now we’re actually using disposables (7th Generation) because I can’t seem to strip the diaps well enough. (Tried Rocking Green on two separate occasions, and it really irritated his poor skin). I’m due with #2 in August and wondering if I need to throw all of these away and start from scratch. About how long is the life of a cloth diap?

  • Kate

    June 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    It is hard to tell how old this post is because there is no year on the dates. Anyway, I like Planet liquid with Calgon water softener, due to hard water. I do not use Petroleum Jelly when a yeast rash occurs. I also will not use powders on the baby’s skin.

    I use only organic coconut oil. For overnight, with pocket diapers I found that a microfiber insert, a bamboo insert, then a hemp insert (with MF closest to baby) works wonders once baby stopped wanting to nurse/eat/drink during the night. If they are consuming any liquid during the night then the diapers will be more wet. Pretty simple, but it took me 8 months to figure that out. I am using grapefruit seed extract and biokleen oxygenated bleach in my wash cycle to disinfect the diapers of any yeast spores. I buy all of these things on

  • Kate

    June 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    June 5, 2013 is when I posted this.

  • jamie

    June 4, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I have a gigantic diaper stash everyone gave me tons of great diapers, around ten days worth. But how long can I really store a wet diaper for? Done say only 24-48 hours some say longer.

  • crystal

    November 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I love the last paragraph! Such a great perspective! I always thought disposables were more likely to cause a diaper rash than cloth. My daughter has never had a hint of rash from disposables but after just one day of switching back to cloth, the rash reappears… 🙁

  • Frustrated Momma

    February 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    We have hard water (well water) with a water softener system. I’m ripping out my hair trying to figure out how to get them stripped properly. I went to give my little guy a bath, and the diaper had fresh pee just sitting on top, not being absorbed properly. I think it is definitely a laundry problem. I have only recently had any issues with my cloth diapers, usually I can change my guy every 2-ish hours and he is perfectly fine! Lately I feel like said mom above, every hour or watch my child’s skin redden with each change. Then I realized I switched my detergent a few months ago…maybe I am using too much? One thing is for sure, I am going to launder the hell out of his cloth diapers, and see if build up goes away/ use less detergent from now on, AND do an extra rinse. I want them to work again 🙁

  • JR

    February 23, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    For yeast, I just put some AVC onto a cotton ball and dabbed my little guys rash; it was gone in a few days. I also used a homemade diaper cream that I put into an old deodorant tube. Definitely don’t need to go to the doctor for something like that, as you said!