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Monday, October 22, 2012

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It's Yeast! Now What?

One of the wonderful aspects of cloth diapering is less – if any – diaper rash. Periodically, however, a rash may pop up for a day or two. For instance, our daughter often had light rashes when she was teething. We'd let her run around naked as often as possible and slathered on the CJs BUTTer at every diaper change. It always worked wonderfully and quickly.

Until it didn't. Oh my goodness, we had yeast!

Yeast! It's a four-letter word in the cloth diapering world. The little buggers (spores) get into your cloth and live there, making it very difficult to get rid of it. And you can't use any of the creams next to your cloth, so what do you do? It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, our daughter had a very stubborn case of yeast rash. And as soon as we got rid of it, she had to go on antibiotics and it came right back. We dealt with it for about six weeks, but it's finally gone and hasn't come back!

Here's what we did.

As soon as we had a stubborn, reoccurring rash (lasted a week), we began treating it like it was yeast. We purchased an over-the-counter anti-fungal (Lotrimin, brand name; Clotrimazole, generic) and applied it twice a day. At first we used disposable diapers while I figured out how to treat her cloth diapers, but you can totally use your cloth diapers while treating the yeast. (Note: We did discuss this with our daughter's pediatrician before using the over-the-counter cream.)

Before you start using any product on your baby and to get an accurate diagnosis please call your pediatrician/nurse line before-hand. Sometimes they will want to see the rash if it persists so they can decide whether it needs a prescription cream or not (we ended up needing Nystatin when the rash came back with the antibiotics). Once you figure out what you need to do to clear up your child's rash, then you can begin tackling your diapers.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Grapefruit Seed Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Bleach
  • Sunshine! (Not pictured)
  • Heat! (Also not pictured)
When I researched how to get rid of yeast in cloth diapers, this is what I found should work:

  • Bleach, ½ cup in your wash. Make sure to rinse a few extra times to ensure there is no bleach residue.
  • Grapefruit Seed Oil. About 20 drops per load should do it.
  • Tea Tree Oil. About 20 drops per load should do it.
  • Heat. Put your diapers in the dryer – this once won't hurt them! The heat kills the spores.
  • Sun! Sun! Sun! Sun your diapers. Yeast doesn't like sun.
Now, I was a bit overzealous when treating my diapers, especially since we used disposables the first time. The second time was much easier and worked just as well (and was probably much kinder to my cloth diapers), so keep that in mind.

The first time I treated my diapers, I bleached them, rinsed a few extra times, washed like normal, then sunned them, then rinsed them again, then popped them in the dryer. Like I said, I was a bit overzealous. It got rid of the rash, but I probably didn't need to do all that. I had the Grapefruit Seed Oil on order, so when I got that in the mail, I also washed with that and Tea Tree Oil, which I already had on hand. (Note: I was using disposables while treating her diapers, so I could wash my entire stash a few times before using it again. Overzealous!!)

When her rash came back with the antibiotics, I did not want to use disposables again. I'm not fond of them (it's why we use cloth!), and they are crazy expensive! So I purchased some micro-fleece and lined every single diaper so I could use the prescription creams on her while she wore her cloth diapers. I washed these separately from the cloth diapers so there wouldn't be any cream residue transferred, potentially causing the diapers to repel. It was very easy!

Every time I washed her diapers, I added the Grapefruit Seed and Tea Tree oils and alternated between sunning and drying them. I also made sure to bleach the diapers once, just in case. This time the rash was gone within a week. It went much better! So don't panic if you think your child has yeast. If he or she does have it, it's not as terrible as it seems. You can treat it effectively with a few simple steps.

Disclaimer: As the author noted we recommend seeing your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis for your child. Also please check with cloth diaper manufacturer’s before you use any ingredients listed below. Some ingredients may void warranties. The post is written from the opinion of the contributor.

Bio: Jennifer Esposito - I've been cloth diapering my daughter, Adele, for a little over a year. She wore her first cloth diaper when she was 6 days old and was in them full time at 3 weeks. I've been married to my best friend for 4 years. I'm an editor by trade, and during my free time I like to run, sew, or read.


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dannyscotland said...

Perfect timing on this post since my daughter was just diagnosed with a yeast rash this past week. Stupid yeast!

Deborah Gambrel said...

What kind of cloth diapers did you use bleach on? Our son suffered from yeast infection and the doctor told us we'd never be able to use our cloth diapers again. Of course I fought it, but the only way we could do it was by using the super duper sanitize cycle on my mom's LG machine. We have pocket diapers with pul and minky. I never imagined using bleach on those, is that what you tried or only prefolds?

Jennifer said...

Deborah, sorry I didn't see your question until now! I used the bleach on all my diapers. I mainly have a mixture of BG Freetimes, Rumparooz pockets, prefolds, fitteds, fleece covers, and PUL covers. I figured I'd rather a warranty be void and still have usable diapers, you know? Also, Bumgenius says to use bleach on the diapers once a month for maintenance, so I didn't think it would be an issue, and it wasn't. Everything is still in great working order! I hope your son is rash free now!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, the 40 drops of TTO and GSE didn't cause repelling?

Anonymous said...

Hi! is the 1/2 cup of bleach a half a cup (normal kitchen measurement) or half of the bleach cup. just wanted to ask because i dont want to put too much. thanks

Anonymous said...

Help! I have bamboo and cotton prefolds and my baby ended up with a yeast rash. I treated the diapers with bleach, tea tree oil, sunshine and high heat. While waiting for my little guy's rash to clear I had him in disposables. He has been clear for several days and I just put him back into what I thought were yeast free cloth diapers. Within three diaper changes the yeast was back!! Would boiling the prefolds work? Vinegar and boiling? I really want to be able to cloth diaper again, but this is so frustrating as it took me over a month (and three types of prescription creams) to get rid of his first yeast rash. Please help!

Anonymous said...

Help please! I had been cloth diapering for 5 or so months when my son ended up with a rash that turned out to be yeast related. I treated my cotton and bamboo prefolds with bleach, then tea tree oil (40 drops), lots of sun, several washes and high dryer heat. It took several prescription creams before his rash finally went. Once it had been gone for at least 3 days I decided to give his cloth diapers a try again. After only 3 changes the rash was back!!! Obviously the yeast was still in the diapers after all the treatment and having sat unused for several weeks. I want to be able to cloth diaper and am willing to give it one more try. Would boiling the diapers work? If so, for how long? How would I treat the covers? Is grapefruit seed extract an essential oil? Please help - I am at my wits end.

Elisa Armstrong said...

Hey! So happy to read this..I'm SO frustrated. It seems like my son's yeast rash won't go away! I didn't get around to sunning the 2nd half of my diaper stash and used them...and I think it got the rash back on his bum, but who really my question: When you bleach diapers..(I have prefolds & would not bleach the PUL covers), how do you bleach? Do you just pour some bleach into the bleach compartment? How much? Just curious. I hardly ever use bleach.

Jessica Laux said...

It's important to use disinfecting bleach, it's the one that has a concentration of 5.25% or more of sodium hypochlorite, not splash less or scented. The other things are ineffective. Then dry on high heat.

Jessica Laux said...

Use a half a cup in the main wash. t's important to use disinfecting bleach. It's the one that has a concentration of 5.25% or more of sodium hypochlorite, not splash less or scented. Mall the other stuff is ineffective. Dry on high heat. Continue this for two weeks after the rash is gone.

Melissa said...

I use Rockin' Green for my diapers. I haven't had any problems with yeast. If I do, I think I'd like to try the Sport Rock formula first because it has tea tree oil in it and should be antibacterial. I don't want to use bleach on my diapers if I can avoid it at all!