A popular question for any user of cloth diapers, not just for Lil Helper is: How do you clean cloth diapers which have come into contact with thrush or more commonly known as yeast infection?
First things first, What is Thrush?
Thrush’s $50 name is actually candidiasis, a fungal infection of Candida- a type of yeast. Some of you may know this better as a yeast infection, while others use the term “thrush.”
However you say it, candidiasis spells bad news for cloth diapers and, of course, the baby who wears them.
How Did My Little One Get Thrush?
Thrush often occurs after your baby or you, a breastfeeding mother, finished a round of antibiotics.
While the antibiotics will do their job of killing off other problem bacteria, perhaps an infection, it will also take down the good bacteria which keeps your body’s naturally occurring thrush-killers strong.
Without candidiasis’s natural predators in place, thrush or yeast, thrives and voila! sinus infection cured but now you and your breast-fed baby have a yeast infection.
You know you are dealing with thrush when there is a bum or groin rash which is raised, beefy looking, and could even have some open sores.
For oral thrush, you will see white pasty splotches on your baby’s tongue or other parts of your baby’s mouth which, when rubbed, may turn red and bleed.
If your baby has thrush in the mouth you can bet your baby’s bum it will be there too!
Thrush can occur orally, vaginally, on nipples, finger and toenails, and frankly any skin surface.
And as you may know: fungi love warm and moist creased places like little your baby bottoms, mouths & nether regions.
This fungi may be living on your diapers and inserts before you see any evidence of it on you or your baby.
And it may well still be there after the rash is gone the first time, thus infecting your baby again. So cleaning those diapers effectively is critical!
Steps to Eliminate Thrush/ Yeast
DISCLAIMER*- We are not medical professionals so while we can give you tips on how to treat your diapers, please do see your Doctor/Pediatrician so that your baby and yourself can get checked out and receive proper treatment.
- Get the cloth off the bum! If you’re like me this is hard to do, we love our cloth! But cloth diapers can hold onto the yeast for longer than anything and every time you put it back on your baby’s bum the yeast will be in contact with the skin and the infection will continue to thrive.It is advisable to use disposables for the duration of the rash and for 2 weeks after it has cleared. This is because sometimes it will seem like the rash is gone but is about to come back with a vengeance.
If you want to continue to use cloth during the rash, please see step 4!
- Treat your baby’s skin. This should be with what your Doctor recommends.In addition to any medications, the best way to combat yeast is by keeping the diaper area dry, this means lots of neeekid time! Just put a few towels (or one of our awesome large change mats!) down and let your baby enjoy some fresh air everywhere!
- Treat your diapers & Accessories. (This includes any change mats that come in contact with your baby’s bum). We recommend following Fluff Love’s guidelines for dealing with yeast: http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/troubleshooting/dealing-with-yeast-in-cloth-diapers/
In a nutshell, this is doing a 30 min cold bleach soak (amounts of bleach to be used are based on the vessel you are using (washing machine vs tub, please see the above link), followed by a hot rinse, then a hot wash with detergent and any needed water conditioners (if your water is hard).
Please don’t worry about the bleach ruining your beautiful covers! When diluted properly, the bleach will kill all yeast but not affect the colors of the material. Trust me, I’ve battled yeast with my own lil one!
*PRO TIP!! Sit your diapers in the sun.In addition to the bleach, the UV rays from the sun kill the yeast on the diaper and will help battle this problem.
- If you chose to use your diapers while battling the yeast, IN ADDITION to the bleach soak, you will need to add bleach to each main wash and use hot water, for the entire time the rash lasts AND for 2 weeks after it is cleared. Please see the above link for amounts of bleach to use based on load sizes.And to keep your diapers safe from any creams that need to be used, it is advisable to use a disposable/flushable liner (like our Lil Sheets).
And remember, any yeast that is present, even if only in the mouth at first, will end up on your baby’s bum (it can survive the digestive tract!). So if you spot thrush in your baby’s mouth, take preventative measures by seeing your Doctor and doing a bleach soak of your diapers (and adding bleach to your washes if continuing to use cloth). Best wishes for your battle with Thrush!!
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions!
Feature photo courtesy of By KGH (Personal collection of histopathologic slides) [GFDL (
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons: Wiki Commons