Yes, it can. Vaseline is a brand name of petroleum jelly. According to the Vaseline website, “Vaseline® Jelly is made of 100% pure petroleum Jelly which is a blend of mineral oils and waxes.” While Vaseline’s Original product is made of 100 per cent petroleum jelly, their Jelly Baby product is made of 99.96 per cent petroleum jelly and 0.04 per cent fragrance.
Petroleum jelly is great for healing and preventing diaper rash. It’s so thick that it blocks moisture (and everything else) from touching baby’s skin and it doesn’t melt away easily, even in a hot diaper. The problem is, it’s so thick and stands up against hot water so well that it’s incredibly hard to wash out of fabrics, especially synthetic fabrics like microfiber.
Because it doesn’t wash off of diapers well, it builds up on them and eventually your diapers will do just what the jelly is meant to do: repel liquid. Unfortunately, when diapers repel moisture instead of absorbing urine, they are useless. In short, Vaseline use will ruin your diapers over time, though they can usually be fixed with stripping.
Alternatives to Vaseline for Diaper Rash
Though petroleum jelly isn’t cloth diaper safe, there are a lot of cloth safe alternatives that you can use that will do the same job.
Any diaper cream that doesn’t contain petroleum or zinc (another barrier cream that doesn’t wash out of fabric well and will cause repelling) is fine for cloth diapers. Thirsties Booty Love Diaper Ointment, GroVia All Natural Magic Stick Baby Diaper Balm, and Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook favourite Earth Mama Angel Baby Earth Mama Bottom Balm are all great options.
If you are looking for a barrier cream that has the consistency of Vaseline, there are also jelly diaper creams available. I have personally used Live Clean Baby’s non-petroleum jelly and have found it to be a great alternative. It’s a little hard to find, but you can get it on Amazon in this gift set or you can purchase it individually at some pharmacies (check the baby isle).
What if Vaseline is the Only Thing I Want to Use?
Hey, I get it, for generations Vaseline was the diaper rash solution, and often they give you a tube of petroleum jelly to use a the hospital. With all that history behind it, it can be, hard to try new things.
If you’re dead-set on using Vaseline and cloth diapers, here’s what you can do:
- Purchase of make some reusable fleece liners (like these, or these) that are large enough to cover most of the surface area of your diapers. You can make liners out of any fabric, but fleece is recommended as it has the added benefit of giving baby a “stay-dry” feel. Do not use disposable liners (sometimes called Bio Liners) as these are too thin to protect the diaper well enough.
- Use a liner each and every time you use petroleum jelly and make sure to keep the jelly off your diaper as best as you can.
- Wash your fleece or flannel liners separately from your cloth diapers. This is key because during washing some of the Vaseline will come off and you don’t want it to just find it’s way to your diapers in the wash.
- Make sure you have a good wash routine for your diapers that uses adequate detergent and hot water. This will make sure that if any jelly does still get on your diaper, you’re at least going to get most of it off.
If you have used Vaseline in the past and washed it out of clothing, this may seem a bit over-the-top, but honestly, cloth diapers are not cheap and prolonged use of Vaseline can cause buildup that will lead to repelling, so in my mind it’s well worth the extra bit of effort if you really must use Vaseline.