Battling Yeast in Cloth Diapers

The following post is taken from the Bummis Blog.  I am re-posting in hopes that more people can benefit from the information.
Yeast Cell Picture taken from here

Begin post:
Battling Yeast in Cloth Diapers

Yeast. It's one of those things that comes up occasionally in conversations about cloth diapering. Yeast can continue to grow in your diapers and reinfect your child after the rash is gone. Hard to get rid of? Not necessarily. In fact, this latest time that Malina had to deal with yeast in her household, she were able to keep her son in cloth while treating him and the diapers.

Step One: Identify the Problem

Many rashes look alike, so it's not always obvious to figure out what you're dealing with. Yeast often manifests as bright red spots with bumps around them, like moons around a planet. It can look like chicken pox, or pimples, and is often concentrated in the creases and folds of the skin. Yeast often appears after a treatment with antibiotics, since they will kill both the good and the bad bacteria in the body; so if your baby has recently been treated with antibiotics, and has a rash matching the description above, there's a good chance that you're dealing with yeast. That being said, it's important to consult with your health care provider to determine whether that is actually the case.

Step Two: Kill the Yeast!

In order to get rid of yeast, you will have to treat your baby's skin and you'll have to wash any cloth products that have been in contact with the skin (diapers, liners, wipes, towels, changing pads, etc.). It's very important to address both issues in order to fully resolve the problem. Read on:

Part One: The Skin

You will have to apply a diaper cream at every change. You can try a natural cream that is specially formulated to treat yeast. Or, if natural creams don't seem to be working, you may need to use a medicated cream prescribed by a doctor. It's important to use Bio-Soft liners during this time to protect your diapers from the creams you are using, to avoid residue problems. Contrary to what many people think, it is not a good idea to apply powder, as the yeast will feed on the talc in the powder, and it will make the problem worse! You should also try to change your baby's diaper more often, about every couple of hours.

Part Two: The Diapers

To properly rid your diapers, liners, wipes, towels, changing pads, etc. of yeast, you will need to switch to a more rigorous washing routine using oxygenated bleach until your baby's rash disappears, and for five days afterwards, as follows*:

  1. Fill machine with hot water
  2. Add the maximum recommended amount of oxygenated bleach, stir until dissolved
  3. Add diapers etc. and soak for 15 minutes
  4. Wash on hot, with oxy bleach (same quantity as above) + detergent
  5. Rinse well, with lots of water
  6. Dry in the sun if at all possible (it really helps to disinfect), or in the dryer.*Please defer to your diaper manufacturer's recommendations if they differ from these.

Some people choose to use disposable diapers while treating their baby for yeast. If this is what you choose to do, you will still need to complete the routine described above once, and then to put your cloth diapers aside until your baby's rash disappears, and for five days afterwards, to ensure that the yeast is completely gone. If you continue to use cloth diapers, wipes, change pads, etc. while treating your baby, you will need to follow this routine at everywash.

Part Three: Advanced Troubleshooting for Stubborn Problems

If you follow the above routine and you are still unable to get rid of the yeast, you can try chlorine bleach instead of oxygenated bleach. It is much harsher, but much stronger. Follow the same steps, but you can use warm water instead of hot if you wish.

If you have prefolds, you can try boiling them to kill the yeast. We do not recommend boiling any other type of diaper, or any type of wrap, as the elastics and PUL are not likely to stand up well to this intense process!

Alternative or Additional Solutions

Some people swear by grapeseed extract or tea tree oil as remedies for yeast, so you can try one of those instead of oxy bleach if you wish. You will need to use between 20-100 drops each time you wash. You can also make a bum wash solution with grapeseed extract or tea tree oil to help disinfect at each diaper change.

Some people swear by acidophilus as a treatment for yeast infections. If you are breastfeeding, you can take it yourself and it will transfer to your baby through your breastmilk. If not, it can be given directly to your baby. This article is more specific to breastfeeding and thrush, but is also applicable to yeast infections and diapering, and offers acidophilus treatment ideas.

This blog post is the result of a collaborative effort between Malina, Shirley and Maeghan.
Posted 3rd June 2011 by Malina