How to Remove Yeast from Cloth Diapers

How to remove yeast from cloth diapersHow do you know if you have yeast? There are several different types of diaper rash but if you have a prickly looking rash that doesn’t improve or go away within 24 hours of using typical diaper creams, chances are that you have yeast.  *For the first time you should visit your doctor to make sure but after you have it once, you’re likely to recognize it if you get it again.

Yeast is a very stubborn fungus to get rid of and your first step must be to treat the rash. If diagnosed by a doctor they will likely give you a prescription for an antifungal cream. If you have had yeast before and you no longer have a prescription you can use an over the counter cream for athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm. The generic name is Clotrimazole which is the same as the brand name Lotrimin. These creams are not safe for cloth diapers so you will need to use disposable diapers, flushable inserts or a fleece liner in your cloth diapers.

Once you’ve tackled the rash, you must treat all of your diapers, cloth wipes and reusable diaper liners (if you use them). There is no getting around this because if you don’t you will reinfect your baby. There are several things people do to treat yeast, but what I do is this:

  • Once your diapers are clean of waste, wash them in HOT water, around 125-130 degrees without going over.
  • To the water add about 1-2 tsp of grapefruit seed extract depending on your machine and an oxygen bleach such as OxiClean or Biokleen. I use a full scoop when disinfecting.
  • Do a second rinse to make sure all of the GSE and oxygen bleach is out of your diapers
  • If you’re comfortable with using chlorine bleach, a 1/4 cup should work to disinfect your diapers. The GSE/oxygen bleach treatment worked for me  so I haven’t had to resort to this for yeast. 

You should now be yeast free. Some people also choose to treat towels that have touched their baby’s bare bottom while they were infected. Tea tree oil is also popular for treating yeast but in my research I have read that it doesn’t kill the spores while grapefruit seed extract does. Also in my research I was only able to find general information on what to use but no exact amounts. This is what has worked for me though you may find more or less GSE may work for you.

Update 8/9/13: There have been questions around the interwebs about whether oxygen bleach like OxiClean and BioKleen actually disinfects or if its main purpose is just for whitening. Many of us don’t have a microscope in our homes to prove or disprove its disinfectant properties but here are some sources that state that it does kill at least some germs:

So while oxygen bleach is probably not enough on its own to kill yeast, it can’t hurt to add it while trying to rid your diapers of yeast and other bacteria.

Update 10/14/13: There have been recent questions about the effectiveness of GSE on yeast and whether it is truly an antifungal. It has been stated that it is the preservatives in GSE that are what kills yeast and not the GSE itself. I am not a scientist and do not have a lab set up in my basement (though The Husband has one at work. Maybe I should convince him to set up an experiment for me, haha). Because of this I can’t confirm or deny these claims, but what I can tell you is that my diapers had yeast, then I used the regimen above and they no longer had yeast. Whether it is the preservatives or the GSE itself shouldn’t really make a difference anyway as long as whatever property kills the yeast is present. As an added note, the GSE that I use is the same kind that was used in the study conducted by California Polytechnic State University in their experiment.

Update 11/6/13: Most of us don’t have access to a microscope at home and never really know if we have gotten rid of yeast until the rash stops. Then once the rash stops we don’t really know what was the thing that actually got rid of it. The Real Diaper Association (RDA) is currently conducting scientific experiments on how to get rid of yeast in cloth diapers and their findings on cloth prefolds is pretty interesting. More experiments on other types of diapers and fabrics will be conducted.

Update 7/2/14: Some further data from RDA continues to make a compelling case for GSE over TTO. RDA’s yeast experiment update

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22 Responses to How to Remove Yeast from Cloth Diapers

  1. Kimberlie says:

    Where do you get GSE?

    • Regan says:

      I got mine on Amazon. I have heard that Sprouts carries it if you have one near you and Whole Foods might carry it. I’ll have to check both of those next time I go. Smaller independent health food stores and vitamin shops might have it too

  2. Kimberlie says:

    No Sprouts or Whole Foods near me… I’ll have to order it online. Thanks for the post. Yeast and I are at odds once again and since we are using cloth this time, I just wondering yesterday how to make sure it stays away. Thanks for the timely post!

  3. Rhiana says:

    I have never used jock itch cream for a yeast rash. You need to use the same stuff as monistat for a yeast rash. Jock itch is ringworm. Yeast is candida which needs to be treated with Monistat or something similar…miconozoale nitrate.

    • Regan says:

      That will work too but clotrimazole works just as well as it is an antifungal. My son is prone to yeast rashes and we have treated several with clotrimazole with wonderful results. Clotrimazole can also be used to treat vaginal yeast infections but the package says ringworm, etc on it :)

  4. Amanda says:

    Do you just use regular oxiclean?

  5. Maggie says:

    I like that you don’t use actual bleech…that is what I read everywhere…but I do not keep that in the house and refuse too…thanks for your idea…
    Maggie recently posted..Laundry for a family of 6My Profile

    • Regan says:

      I’ve only used bleach one time in a fit of desperation when we kept getting nasty rashes over and over again. It turns out that I just needed a new detergent :)

  6. Amy says:

    should I worry about using oxiclean on paticular types of cloth

    • Regan says:

      I have used OxiClean on pockets, microfiber, natural fibers, prefolds, etc and haven’t had any issues at all. I don’t use it for every load, but once in a while I do.

  7. These are great tips for getting rid of yeast rash. I would never of thought of using Oxiclean. The GSE is awesome to know to! Perfect for cloth diapers.
    Ashleigh Swerdfeger recently posted..Render- Interview with the authorMy Profile

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  10. jamie says:

    thanks for this detailed list of how to treat yeast. we haven’t had to battle that (yet!) but it’s good to know that there is something very specific and tried and true that i can reference if i ever need too. thanks!

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  13. l bliss says:

    Has anyone tried organic coconut oil for treating yeast? My son has had, what I thought was a little heat rash on his bottom (it’s getting hot here in FLA and my son sweats). I noticed that the rash flares up if he sits in a wet diaper too long. I change him every 1.5-2 hours and it starts to heal up nicely. But my husband will let him go hours in a soggy diaper and it comes right back!. We sent our son to the sitter and she said it looks like yeast. She said organic coconut oil should clear it up. Just wondering if anyone has tried this. I’m sure we will need to get a pack of disposables to treat it. Thanks for the info, I am going to order some GSE off Amazon and do our diapers just for precaution. I am hoping this works. Seems everyone’s a skeptic these days. Something doesn’t need to be ‘scientific’ in order to work. These are tried and true remedies that have been used for years. I wonder, too, if my son is getting a reaction to the BumGenius 4.0′s we bought 2 months ago. We just switched from prefolds to the BG pockets and this is a new rash for him.

    • Regan says:

      There are some babies that are bothered by the suedecloth lining in bumGenius diapers so it’s a possibility. You could try a few diapers with microfleece or bamboo to see of that is your problem.

      Re: coconut oil, there are a lot of people who swear by it for yeast and it’s supposed to be a fungicide. For us it was too slow to start working so we went right to anti fungal creams since we had open sores, too. It’s definitely worth a try though.

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  15. Rebecca Shaffer says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the updated testing on yeast infection and cloth diapering. We are battling our first infection since switching to cloth diapers and I followed your protocol last week after my DD’s rash was gone. And unfortunately It came back. :( I came back here today to read through your recommendations again because I was sure I did something wrong. I was BEYOND THRILLED to see your update from last week and to be able to actually read exactly what to do and what test results were. It was tremendously helpful! I’m following updated protocol now, and praying for a yeast free bottom and yeast free diapers, naturally.

    • Regan says:

      Yeast is a nasty beast for sure. My original post worked for us in our machine at the time but water type and levels very well could affect how well it will work. I like that the RDA is testing in a standard top loader because, in theory, the amount they use should work for everyone :)

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