How 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, the 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. If you use cloth diapers and your baby does have a yeast rash, you will need to find out how to remove yeast from cloth diapers or risk the infection coming back.
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 are sure that what you’re dealing with is yeast, you can use an over the counter anti-fungal cream. 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 ways to treat yeast, but this method has worked for me over the years.
As with any recommendation I post, I have used this treatment myself with success.
HOW TO REMOVE YEAST FROM CLOTH DIAPERS
While bleach will kill yeast in diapers, we all use cloth diapers for different reasons, and not everyone is comfortable using bleach for several reasons. I am not anti-bleach, but I like to treat things in the most gentle way possible first instead of automatically resorting to caustic chemicals that have been known to damage fabric and irritate the skin. While there are some cases where bleach is the only answer, it is possible to remove yeast from cloth diapers without bleach.
- Once your diapers are clean of waste, wash them in HOT water, around 125-130 degrees without going over.
- If you are comfortable with using chlorine bleach, add a 1/4 (HE) – 1/2 cup (non-HE) to the hot water wash.
- If you are not comfortable using chlorine bleach, add about 50-60 drops (HE machine) to 2 tsp (standard machine) of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) and a scoop of oxygen bleach such as OxiClean, Biokleen, or a store brand to the hot water wash.
- Do a second rinse to make sure all of the GSE and oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach is out of your diapers.
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 you need a LOT of it to work. Even then, it doesn’t kill the spores while grapefruit seed extract does, but other people have had success with it.
This routine has worked for me more than once and also for other cloth diapering parents. As with anything, nothing will work for 100% of people 100% of the time. For those cases, you may have to turn to bleach.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT (GSE)?
There have also been recent questions about the effectiveness of GSE on yeast and whether it is genuinely an antifungal. Grapefruit seed extract contains compounds that can kill more than 60 types of bacteria and yeast. GSE kills yeast cells through apoptosis, which is a process that causes self-destruction. This process causes the bacteria’s outer membrane to burst within just 15 minutes of exposure, thus killing the bacteria. (Source: Healthline.com)
While sometimes referred to as a natural remedy, it is not. GSE is not sold in its pure form; it is highly processed and contains preservatives and other properties which may aid in killing bacteria and yeast. GSE also often contains pulp powder, glycerine, ammonium chloride, vitamin C, hydrochloric acid, and natural enzymes. While not harsh like chlorine bleach, calling GSE all-natural isn’t completely accurate.
The downside to using GSE is that it is expensive. A 2-ounce bottle of GSE costs about $11.99, but it will last a while.
DOES OXYGEN BLEACH DISINFECT LAUNDRY?
There have been questions around the interwebs about whether oxygen bleach like OxiClean and BioKleen actually disinfects or if its primary 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 isn’t as powerful as chlorine bleach and probably isn’t 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.
CAN YOU GET RID OF YEAST WITHOUT CHLORINE BLEACH?
Since 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, The Real Diaper Association (RDA) has done the work for us. They have conducted scientific experiments on how to get rid of yeast in cloth diapers, and their findings on cloth prefolds is pretty impressive.
Some further data from RDA continues to make a compelling case for GSE over TTO. Read The RDA’s Yeast and Cloth Diaper Laundry Experiment for more information on their study.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everyone’s circumstances and reasons for using cloth diapers are different so treat yeast with the method that works best for you and your family. Chlorine bleach is the cheapest and easiest way to remove yeast from cloth diapers, but there are viable alternatives if you are unable or against using bleach.