Managing Diaper Rash When Using Cloth Diapers

Posted by Jason Rector on

No matter if your baby is using cloth diapers or reusable diapers, you’ve probably encountered the challenge of a diaper rash!

You can do a few things to help heal and treat diaper rash when using cloth diapers. In this article, we'll explore the causes of diaper rash, treatment options available, and how to keep your baby's skin healthy while using cloth diapers.

What Are the Causes of Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a common problem for parents using any type of diaper. But what causes diaper rash in the first place?


The most common cause of diaper rash is prolonged dampness. When your baby's skin can't breathe and stays wet for longer, the skin can become irritated. This often happens with cloth diapers because they absorb less quickly than disposable ones.


The chemical irritants often cause diaper rash in your baby's pee or poop. Poop especially contains a lot of enzymes and acids, which can irritate your baby's skin if it stays in contact with it for too long. This is another reason why it's important to promptly change your baby's diaper when they pee or poo—especially when using cloth diapers!


Chafing is another common cause of diaper rash; poor-fitting cloth diapers can be one culprit. If the diaper is too loose in some areas but too tight in others, this can create friction which might lead to inflamed, irritated skin. It's important to ensure you get the right fit for your baby's body size, so their skin isn't aggravated by chafing.

How To Manage Diaper Rash When Using Cloth Diapers

If you've noticed that your baby is getting diaper rash more frequently, it pays to learn which strategies to employ when using cloth diapers. Here are a few ways that you can manage cloth diaper rashes.

Keep the Skin Clean and Dry

If your baby has a diaper rash while cloth diapering, the first step is to keep the skin clean and dry. Doing this can help put a stop to the rash, and it's something that you should do as soon as you notice any redness or irritation.

Wash your baby's bottom with warm water whenever they wet or dirty their diaper. Make sure to dry them completely before applying a new one. Residual moisture can worsen a diaper rash, so take extra care to ensure their skin is bone dry before you put on the next diaper.

Change Diapers Frequently

Whether using disposable or cloth diapers, changing them frequently is key to preventing diaper rash. But since cloth diapers retain more moisture and may require even more changes than disposables, it's especially important to keep an eye out and ensure you're changing your baby's diaper often.

If you're using overnight diapers, we recommend changing your baby as soon as they wake up. Doing this can help reduce irritation while getting them dressed and ready for their day!

Use a Natural Barrier Cream

When using cloth diapers, you can use a natural barrier cream to create a protective layer between your baby's sensitive skin and the diaper. This will help to reduce the chance of irritation and diaper rash. However, you should never use petroleum jelly such as Vaseline when using cloth diapers, as this can cause absorption issues.

Use Fragrance-Free Detergents

Using the right detergent is another key step in ensuring your baby's cloth diapers don't irritate their skin. You should always use a fragrance-free detergent, as fragrances can cause skin irritation and worsen diaper rash. Remember, babies' skin is much more sensitive than adult's!

You also want to ensure you use the right amount of detergent. Too little detergent means that all of the dirt and oils from the diaper won't be washed away—but too much will leave a residue on the fabric, irritating your baby's delicate skin.

Air Dry Diapers

After laundering, air drying your diapers is key to eliminating diaper rash. Air drying helps keep the cloth diaper fabric soft and helps prevent detergent buildup, which can lead to skin irritation.

When possible, reverse the inside and outside of the diapers and turn them inside out while air-drying. This prevents too much wear on one side of the fabric and keeps it soft, which will help your baby's skin stay comfortable.

Tips to Prevent Diaper Rush When Using Cloth Diapers

You have come this far and are now armed with everything you need to know about diaper rash and how to treat it. Now, let's go over some final tips to help you prevent a diaper rash in the first place.

Fasten Diapers Securely But Not Too Tight

A snug fit prevents leaks, but ensure your baby's diaper isn't too tight. Too-tight diapers rub the skin and irritate it, leading to diaper rash.

Give Your Baby's Bottom More Time Without A Diaper

Your little one's skin needs some time to breathe. When your baby hangs out around the house, let them enjoy some "diaper freedom." That means letting them run around without their diaper on for a while so their skin has a chance to air out and heal.

Don't Overheat It!

Wash cloth diapers in hot water, but don't overdo it! Hot water can destroy bacteria and make sure your nappies are squeaky clean, but the water that's too hot can cause skin irritations ad diaper rash flare-ups. It's generally recommended that cloth diapers be washed at 40°C or lower.

After Changing Diapers, Wash Your Hands Well

Be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap after changing any diaper — disposable or cloth — so that germs don't spread between your baby's bottom and other surfaces or other babies you encounter.

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