Written by Sherrie Cook, Contributing Writer
**This is somewhat of a two part post, beginning with Sherrie's post on Healing Rashes While Cloth Diapering. Sherrie is our resident cloth diapering expert and she has many valuable things to say on this topic!**
If you find that your baby is starting to break out into a rash in the diaper area while you are using cloth diapers, do not immediately think that cloth isn't working for your child! And certainly don't think you have no alternative but to switch to throw-away diapers. There are little fixes you can do quickly to solve rash issues, all the while, continuing to use your cloth nappies.
However, DO SOMETHING! Don't just assume the rash is a fluke and wait for it to go away. Rashes are a symptom of a problem and they are one of the first signs we get as caregivers that something is awry in our baby's little world.
The first step to becoming a rash super-sleuth is to know the most common irritants of a diaper rash. While you are deciding which one(s) could be bothering your baby, select and use a cloth-diaper-approved ointment or balm to help your baby heal while preserving your cloth diaper stash.
Take a good look at the ingredients on the detergent you're using. Look first at the label on the box or bottle and then visit the manufacturer's website. Unfortunately, our laws do not force companies to reveal the actual ingredients found under their ingredient list - just because it isn't mentioned in print doesn't mean it's not really in there! (Frustrating isn't it?)
Manufacturers are allowed to hide ingredients behind their "secret recipe". Often times when you look up the contents of the detergent, you will find a little obscure message that might read,
"Ingredients include surfactants (anionic and nonionic) and enzymes."
Well, that's just not really helpful.
If your child is experiencing a diaper rash (or other skin rash for that matter) don't wait too long before you consider switching your laundry detergent. I try to keep up with the detergent ingredient definitions and a list of detergents with their known ingredients (as well as how they interact with cloth diapers). If you are interested in one not listed there, send me an email and I'll see what I can find out.
Consider making your own wipe solution and use cloth wipes. This step will reduce the use of fragrances and dyes and other preservatives you might find in a commercial wipe product. Don't want to buy all the ingredients? Check out Baby Bits or some other pre-made wafer for cloth diapering that will dissolve easily in water.
MOST IMPORTANT STEP
Regardless of whether you change detergent or keep the same one, begin making your wipe solution from scratch or just scratch you head, here is THE one step you don't want to skip. *drum roll, please*
Rinsing your cloth diapers
You may think, well, I already do that, duh!?! But, are you doing it enough? Especially with the craze of front loading washers and the vast differences in hard water vs. soft water, many mamas don't realize the necessity of the perfect rinse.
Every time you wash your cloth, you should be rinsing the clean diapers until there are no more suds in the wash. If you have a front loader, you may have to trick the washing machine into adding more water. If you have hard water, you made need to use a water softener like RLR or Calgon.
Use hot, hot, hot water and rinse, rinse, rinse. (The above photo is of my very own washing machine with NO SOAP! These were just my diapers and a ton of hot water!)
If there is but one sud left on the wall of your washing machine, rinse the entire load again. PUL covers will likely not require this much rinsing so you can take them out after the initial extra rinse, but if you use prefolds, All-in-Ones, All-in-Twos, inserts, thick covers (i.e. fleece), etc. it is likely that there is detergent trapped in the fibers of your diapers and when your baby uses the diaper, this detergent gets wet and irritates your baby's skin causing a rash.
Even detergents that advertise that they rinse clean and work flawlessly for everyone in your local mommy group - yes, even these can be a culprit if your baby gets a rash. And besides, when it concerns your child's health, what does it hurt to try, right? May the rinsing festivities begin!