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Which rash creams can I use with my cloth nappies?

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Line up of nappy rash creams

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Statistically fewer babies in cloth nappies experience nappy rash, however, that’s not to say that babies in cloth nappies will never get nappy rash, nor will babies in disposables definitely get it.

When it comes to nappy cream and cloth nappies the advice is varying, some will say use any cream and as long as your wash routine is adequate it’s not an issue, others will say avoid certain creams (including most of the thickest barrier creams) because they can coat the fibres of your nappy and reduce absorbency. I am far from being an expert on the subject, however if you have ever tried to wash Metanium out of muslins, baby grows, your jeans, you’ll know it can be quite a tricky customer.

Tin of Balmonds Baby Balm nappy rash cream

Our favourite rash creams are Balmonds Baby Balm (sadly they don't make this anymore, but their Skin Salvation works just as well, and is great for eczema and cradle cap too!) and Weleda which are both cloth safe according to the UK Nappy Network guidelines. Both are also natural creams which is what is most important for me when choosing what goes on H’s skin. Sometimes however, the heavy duty stuff is required.

If you do find that only a thick barrier cream will do the trick then there are ways you can continue using your cloth nappies.

We once had a rather nasty nappy rash which required both prescribed cream topped with Metanium to act as a barrier. During this period we chose to use two liners, a disposable one next to the skin to take the biggest hit of the cream and a fleece between this and the nappy as an extra layer of protection. Remember, liners are not designed to be absorbent, so even if you would prefer to stick with fleece liners, they will still do their job if covered in cream.

That being said, personally with all nappy creams I would recommend the use of a liner of some description, just as an extra layer of protection for your nappies, as even some of the cloth safe creams have been found to cause certain fibres to grey.

Another alternative to nappy cream is to look at the type of liner you are using, many mums swear by raw silk liners for their natural antibacterial properties when combating nappy rash.

If you are finding nappy rash to be a persistent problem then you may want to look at the cause, rather than constantly treating the symptoms.

Teething baby with toy

Many Mums agree (although for some reason Drs disagree) that teething is the most common culprit for nappy rash. It is thought that ingesting large amounts of dribble causes excess stomach acid which in turn causes a rash as it comes out. You may wish to change more frequently during teething or use a fleece liner to keep Baby's bottom as dry as possible, for more information on tackling teething rash I recommend this blog post by Emma Reed.

For similar reasons, a food allergy or intolerance can also cause persistent nappy rash. I won’t speak too much on this because I am not an expert, nor do I have personal experience, however, if you are seeing other symptoms relating to a food allergy it may be worth including the nappy rash in this when speaking with your GP.

For some babies they simply have a sensitive bottom. Neither of my two particularly suffer with nappy rash however recently they both could be prone to scratching their bottoms and causing a rash, we have found the only way to combat this is to apply the Balmonds Baby Skin Salvation at least once a day to help break the itch-scratch cycle and prevent the rash.

Finally you may also wish to consider your wash routine. It is imperative that all traces of ammonia and detergent are removed from your nappies after each wear. I have previously shared my simple wash routine which will help achieve this, but the key pointers to remember:

Cloth nappies in a washing machine
  • Are there bubbles or is there a strong smell of detergent at the end of your cycle? If so, you may find that not all of the detergent is being washed out

  • Do your nappies smell when they come out of the wash? If so, I would recommend running a strip wash and increasing the amount of detergent for future loads

  • If you find that increasing your detergent means you are getting bubbles at the end of the load there may not be enough water running through your machine. If you have buttons for adding extra water, e.g. extra water, soak, rinse, wash etc. then press as many as you can, ideally you want the cycle to last at least 2.5 hours to give your nappies a thorough clean

Personally, I choose to wash all of my nappies at 60°, regardless of manufacturer guidelines, and I take the risk of losing my warranty. If you prefer to wash in line with the manufacturer guidelines and follow those which state 40° I would recommend adding a nappy safe sanitiser to your wash, such as Violets, Mio Fresh or BioD

Overall I recommend keeping it simple, and if that is having a few days in disposable nappies whilst you get the rash under control, then that’s OK! If you are finding that you’re getting a persistent rash in cloth nappies and don’t know what’s best to do then please reach out to me via Instagram or my Contact Form and I will happily make some recommendations on how to proceed.

Tin of Balmonds Baby Balm, a safe nappy rash cream to use with reusable nappies

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