Desitin Diaper Cream and Cloth Diapers

Written by: Krystal Keller



Time to read 2 min

Desitin diaper cream contains ingredients that are not considered cloth diaper safe, including zinc oxide and petroleum. In addition to these common diaper cream ingredients, Desitin also contains cod liver oil, which can cause a fish odor on reusable cloth diapers that can be hard to remedy.

What happens when you use a diaper cream that contains zinc oxide on reusable cloth diapers?

When zinc oxide-based diaper creams are used on cloth diapers, they can cause staining and absorbency issues. While some anecdotal evidence and specific product recommendations may suggest otherwise, the general consensus within the cloth diapering community is to avoid diaper creams containing zinc oxide to prevent staining and maintain the absorbency of the reusable diapers. Zinc oxide tends to stain cloth diapers, and it is recommended to use a disposable or reusable liner to protect the diaper if you must use a cream that contains zinc oxide.

What happens when you use a diaper cream that contains petroleum on reusable cloth diapers?

When you use a diaper cream that contains petroleum on cloth diapers, it can create a water-repellent barrier on the fabric, leading to reduced absorbency, staining, and potential odor issues. Petroleum-based creams, often containing heavy oils and synthetic additives, can hinder the absorbency of cloth diapers, making them less effective in containing moisture and more prone to staining and odors. This is particularly problematic for synthetic fibers such as microfiber, as they are more susceptible to build-up and absorbency issues when in contact with petroleum-based products. If you must use a product that contains petroleum while cloth diapering, it is recommended to use a disposable or reusable liner to protect the diaper.

How to remove the stains and fish oil odor caused by Desitin diaper cream from reusable diapers:

  • Pre-treat the Diapers: Begin by rinsing the affected reusable diapers in cold water to remove any excess diaper cream. For stubborn creams, you may need to treat the stain with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. 
  • Wash the Diapers: Wash the cloth diapers in warm or hot water (less than 110 degrees fareheidt) with a good-quality cloth diaper safe detergent. For help choosing a detergent, refer to our washing cloth diapers help page. 1/2-1 cup of vinegar may be added to laundry cycles to help combat occasional odor.
  •  Sun-Dry the Diapers: Sunlight can help remove odors and stubborn stains from cloth diapers. Hang the clean, wet diapers in a sunny area to dry. For particularly stubborn stains and odors a cloth diaper strip may be necessary. 

For help stripping cloth diapers, refer to this informational page » How to Strip Cloth Diapers 

Cloth diapers can be stripped using the following products:

About Desitin Diaper Cream:

Desitin is not recommended for use with cloth diapers due to its non-cloth diaper safe ingredients. It's important to use diaper creams that are specifically labeled as "cloth diaper safe" to avoid any issues with odor or absorbency. 

View our full list of cloth diaper safe diaper creams.»

Desitin Maximum Strength Ingredients

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 40% Purpose Skin Protectant Inactive Ingredients: Petrolatum, Cod Liver Oil, Lanolin, Glycerin, Beeswax, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Fragrance, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Talc

Reasons to use Desitin Diaper Cream

Desitin diaper cream is most commonly used to treat and prevent diaper rash and other minor skin irritations, such as cuts and scrapes. It works by forming a protective barrier on the skin to protect it from irritants and moisture. The cream contains zinc oxide, which helps reduce redness and irritation of sensitive skin, provides moisturization, and forms a protective barrier on the skin.

Desitin diaper cream is particularly useful for providing relief from diaper rash discomfort and is designed to be used with each diaper change, especially at bedtime or any time when exposure to wet diapers may be prolonged. It is important to follow the specific usage directions provided on the product packaging to ensure its effectiveness and safety. 

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