Vaseline is a popular brand that many of us must have used as a lip balm, on dry skin and nails. After having kids, the nurse gave me a tube of Vaseline to use during diaper changes.
I realized that it is very commonly used as a diaper cream too. My nurse suggested that I out Vaseline on every diaper, atleast until the newborn stage. We know that newborns poop a lot and you change a lot of diapers ( 8 – 10 per day) during the first three months.
Keeping your baby’s bum from moisture is the key to prevent diaper rashes. And, that’s what Vaseline does.
But, can it be used with cloth diapers?
What is Vaseline?
Vaseline is essentially petroleum jelly. The baby Vaseline is contains two ingredients petroleum and parfum (fragnance) and the original is 100% petroleum (source).
I am personally not a big fan of using petroleum jelly on our skin let alone baby’s sensitive areas. I have some valid reasons why you should consider using a natural diaper cream and avoid using petroleum-derived products.
If you are interested, you can read it here. But this post is specifically about whether you should or should not use Vaseline with cloth diapers, so I am going to focus on that.
What’s the problem with using Vaseline with Cloth Diapers?
Vaseline is a thick jelly that contains mineral oil. What makes it very effective in treating diaper rashes is that it is water repellent and not water-soluble. It sits on top of the skin, keeping wetness away from baby’s bum. Unfortunately, it does the same to your cloth diapers.
Using Vaseline with regularly with cloth diapers can result in mineral build-up, which will start to repel urine away from the diapers (instead of absorbing them). You might not notice any difference after a single-use, but over a period of time you might see that your cloth diapers are leaking or becoming less absorbent.
What Else Can You Do?
Does that mean that you cannot use Vaseline with cloth diapers at all? Well, the answer is yes, and no! There are some safe ways where you can use Vaseline without ruining your diapers.
Liners are one of my favorite cloth diaper accessories. It makes life easy by taking care of many cloth diaper problems like handling poop and in our case, saving our diapers from petroleum-based diaper creams. Liners are a thin piece of fabric that sits on top of the diaper.
When using Vaseline, the liner catches all the jelly preventing it from reaching the diaper or the insert underneath. You can either use disposable liners like these ones or make your own reusable liners. Making reusable liners are very easy and can save you some money. Just cut up fleece or flannel fabrics to the size of your diaper and you are done.
Here is what you do:
- Keep the liner on top of your diaper and use a liner every time you use the diaper cream.
- If you are using reusable liners, I would recommend washing them separately and not with the cloth diaper laundry. Why because, the oils from the liners can get settled on the diapers when you wash them together.
- If you are using disposable liners, please keep in mind that these liners will not catch 100% of the jelly. But the small amount that gets in the diaper should come out in a hot wash.
Solid Wash Routine:
A good wash routine is the key to avoid mineral build-up. Most of the time, when your cloth diapers stink or start repelling, the issue is with the wash routine. Many don’t check their water hardness or don’t use the right amount of detergent (and/or water) to get rid of all the dirt and residue.
Don’t want to do the extra step of using liners? and still want to use Vaseline with diapers, I will choose cloth diapers made of natural fibers (like cotton and hemp) over synthetic materials (like micro-suede and micro-fleece). Natural fibers are more forgiving when you use non-cloth safe creams and are comparatively easier to wash out.
Cloth Diaper Safe Cream:
If you don’t want to deal with all this hassle and like to play it safe, then switching to cloth safe diaper creams are your best bet. Many cloth diaper brands have their own diaper cream like Thirsties and Grovia.
You should be fine with any cream that is free of petroleum products. My favorite diaper cream is earth mama. It is organic and made of natural ingredients. Great for baby’s bum and for your cloth diapers.
What to do if you have used Vaseline with CD?
- Do Your Cloth Diapers Repel? If your cloth diapers are leaking, then you will know that the material is repelling urine instead of absorbing. Another way to check if your cloth diaper is repelling is to do a ‘repel’ test. Wash and dry your cloth diapers. Once they are fully dry, put a few drops of hot water on them. You would want to see the water droplets absorbed into the diaper and you should not see them floating around the diaper. If you water droplets sitting on the diaper, then your diaper had mineral build up and it needs to be taken care of.
- Hot Wash : The first thing I would try is to wash the diapers in hot water with required detergent.This just like prepping cloth diapers where you wash multiple times to remove the oil from natural fibers.I would try to wash atleast three times, repeating the ‘repel’ test after every wash to see if the diaper is absorbing better.
- Strip: If you can’t remove the mineral oils after washing, then I would move on to stripping the diapers.Here is complete instructions on how to strip cloth diapers.
To summarize, using Vaseline with cloth diapers can create mineral build-up on diapers and can reduce their absorbency. To avoid this issue, you can choose to use liners, tweak your wash routine to remove the residue or switch to using cloth diaper friendly diaper creams.
If you are already using Vaseline, do a ‘repel’ test to see if Vaseline has hampered your diapers absorbency. If your diapers are less absorbent, wash them in hot water or strip the diapers to remove the mineral residue.