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How to Get Diaper Cream Out of Anything

Diaper cream emergencies are a parenting rite of passage. So, if your little one has gotten their hands on the Desitin and smeared it over your furniture, couch, or themselves, don’t panic. You’re not the first, and standard cleaning methods might just make it worse.

Happily, as it’s such a common problem, we now know how to get diaper cream out of anything. Here are the fastest and safest methods.

How to Get Diaper Cream Out of Clothes and Fabric

The first step is to remove as much excess cream as possible with a dry cloth or rag. This will leave you with a sticky stain.

The next job is to tackle the grease, and there are five easy ways to choose from.

Dish Washing Liquid

Dishwashing liquid is a miracle cleaning product for breaking down grease. And, as you know, diaper cream is one of the greasiest substances around!

To get rid of the stain:

  1. Apply dish soap directly to the affected area.
  2. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour warm water onto the clothes and rub the fabric together to work up a lather.
  4. If your fabric isn’t delicate, scrub lightly with a toothbrush.
  5. Rinse in warm water.
  6. Wash the clothes in your washer with your regular detergent.
  7. Air dry the clothes. Do not use your dryer as, if the stain hasn’t lifted, the heat could set it in.


If dishwashing liquid isn’t cutting it, a heavy-duty degreasing agent may be worth a try, but it’s riskier. Some products can cause more staining, and others have strong odors that are hard to wash out. This is a particular problem if you have a High-Efficiency washer, which uses less water.

If you think it’s worth a shot, here’s how to use degreasers safely:

  1. Patch test the degreaser on your clothes. Check the product doesn’t leave stains and that you can wash away the smell.
  2. Apply the degreaser to the mark.
  3. Rub the fabric together gently.
  4. Leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse in cold water.
  6. Launder using your regular detergent. You may also want to add in some natural soap to cover the smell.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is particularly good at tackling stains from creams like Desitin, which contain zinc oxide. 

To use:

  1. Cover the affected area with rubbing alcohol by pouring or spraying it on.
  2. Work the alcohol into the fabric by rubbing it.
  3. Rinse under cold water as you continue to rub the fabric together.
  4. Repeat until the stain has lifted or significantly lightened.
  5. Wash the clothes in your washing machine using your regular detergent.
  6. Leave the clothes to air dry.
  7. If the stain hasn’t lifted, try another method.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a fantastic, natural, and safe alternative to chemical cleaning products. 

To use it effectively:

  1. Start by rubbing a small amount of dish soap into the affected area. You can use your fingers or a toothbrush.
  2. Make up a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a container large enough to submerge the stain.
  3. Soak the clothing for 30 minutes.
  4. Launder as usual and leave to air dry.

Goo Gone

Goo Gone isn’t just for sticky messes, it’s also great at removing creams like Desitin.

To use it on your clothes:

  1. Apply to the affected area.
  2. Rub the fabric together to work the Goo Gone deeply into the stain.
  3. Rinse in warm water and, hopefully, watch the cream wash away.
  4. Launder the clothes as usual and air dry.

How to Get Diaper Cream Out of the Couch or Carpeting

Diaper cream stains on a couch or rug are tougher because you can’t throw them in the washer. However, there’s still hope.

Here’s the best way to remove creams like Desitin from carpeting and upholstery:

  1. Remove excess cream by scraping it up with a plastic spoon. This will reduce the risk of you spreading it around.
  2. Cover the affected area with a good layer of baking soda. This will absorb the grease.
  3. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop up the baking soda with a clean spoon.
  5. In a bowl, mix 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
  6. Dip a clean cloth in the mixture, wring it out, and dab the stain. Take care not to spread it further.
  7. Repeat until it feels as though it’s no longer making a difference.
  8. Rinse the area by dabbing it with a clean wet cloth.
  9. Mix 1 part laundry detergent with 20 parts cold water.
  10. Using a clean cloth, dab this second mixture onto the stain.
  11. Repeat until all traces are gone.
  12. If you have a wet upholstery cleaner, use it to remove the remaining detergent. If not, use a clean, wet cloth to rinse the area.
  13. Blot with a dry cloth or towel to remove as much water as possible.
  14. Allow to air dry.

How to Get Diaper Rash Cream Out of Hair

Sometimes little hands will get hold of the diaper cream, and when they do, they smear it. Usually on your furniture, sometimes on their faces, and occasionally in their hair. If this happens, DON’T race to the bathtub. Your regular shampoo will have no effect, and you’ll just spread the problem. Instead, you have 3 options:

Option 1:

If you’re lucky, the cream may come out with Dawn dish soap. This is what they use to clean up birds caught in oil spills, after all!

First, get your child into swimming goggles or cover their eyes with a dry washcloth. Dawn will sting if it gets in their eyes. Then, massage the dish soap into the affected hair and rinse out with warm water. You may need to repeat the process 4 or 5 times.

Once your child’s hair is cream-free, apply conditioner. This will help to rehydrate their hair, as dish soap is incredibly drying.

Option 2:

If you’re having no luck with dish soap, the next option is to apply more oil. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it works and helps the cream slide off the hair.

To try the oil trick, apply olive or baby oil to the affected hair, just like shampoo. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Then, wash it out with dish soap or clarifying shampoo.

Again, you may have to repeat the process a few times. You can do this on different days if your little one is getting fed up with being stuck in the bathtub.

Option 3:

For extremely sticky cases, some parents have found success with cornstarch. This one will make it worse before it gets better, though.

First, apply cornstarch to the affected hair. It’ll stick to the cream and start to absorb the grease.

Next, apply baby or olive oil to help the sticky cornstarch mixture slide off the hair. If you have a wide-tooth comb, this may help.

Finally, wash repeatedly with Dawn dish soap until all the grease is gone.

How to Get Diaper Cream Out of Cloth Diapers

If you’re using cloth diapers, you may notice that some diaper cream sticks around, even after they’ve been laundered. Fortunately, there are 2 simple solutions:

  1. Scrub the stains with dish soap and a toothbrush, then launder as usual.
  2. Soak the diapers in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and cool water. Then scrub the stains with dish soap and launder with your regular detergent.

After either method, dry the diapers in the sun. This is an excellent, skin-safe way to fade most stains.

To avoid future vinegar baths, consider switching from a zinc-oxide cream, like Desitin, to a natural alternative. There are lots of options available, and they can be found by searching for “washable diaper cream.”

How to Remove Diaper Cream From Skin

As diaper rash cream is designed to stick to the skin in all conditions, it’s incredibly tough to remove. While most adults can resort to a good scrubbing, this is off the table for delicate baby skin. Instead, try these safe and gentle tips:


Rub baby, coconut, or olive oil into the affected area. Then wipe it away with a clean cloth or tissue. Remember, removing the cream from a cloth is a lot of work, so don’t use your best towels!

Make-up Remover for Sensitive Skin

If the oil fails, apply and remove make-up remover with a soft cloth or cotton pad. 

Always select a product designed for sensitive skin, as this method may be irritating for your little one. Also, make sure you rinse away any residues with warm water.

Make-up Removing Wipes

Make-up-removing wipes are another great solution, and, as a bonus, you won’t have to ruin any clothes.

To tackle the goop, gently wipe it away with the wipes. Then, rinse the area with warm water.

Laura Davies

Laura is a dedicated writer and keen researcher, passionate about creating articles that help and inspire. She loves to delve into journals and the latest research, so her readers don’t have to. She’s also an ex-teacher and mom to two young daughters. Her experience with finger painting, den building, and diapers is extensive, and she’s always happy to share what she’s learned along the way.

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