How to fix cloth diapers that leak?

Why Cloth Diapers Leak?

Brand New Cloth Diapers Need Prepping

Problem: Most new cloth diapers require 3-5 washes prior to use for maximum absorbency. If you haven't prewashed diapers fully, this may be the reason why diaper is leaking. 

Solution: Wash bamboo cloth diapers with detergent at least once before using. Hemp and cotton cloth diapers can be washed once before initial use, but expect full absorbency to kick in after multiple washes. Do not boil EcoAble Cloth Diapers!

Incorrect Size and Fit

Problem: Diaper should fit snugly with no gaps around legs or waist. If your baby is too big for a diaper, compression leaks will occur. If the diaper is too big for your baby the pee will slip through the gaps.

Solution: To test size and fit, lay your child on their back, and gently move their legs around in a “crawling” motion, watch the inside edges of the diaper.  If it gaps or opens up at any point, then there is a size issue not an absorbency issue. Make sure that the insert or diaper is completely contained inside. Any bit of cloth sticking out can cause leaking.  

Compression Leaks

Problem: Cloth diapers often leak when they are too loose, but being too tight can cause compression leaks. Diapers should be snug, but not too tight around the waist. Make sure the diaper is adjusted to the correct rise with snaps. Also over-stuffing can cause excess bulk that will either force leg gaps or cause compression leaks. Microfiber inserts are known for compression leaks and All-in-one cloth diapers with built-in soaker may have that problem as well. Compression leaks happen more often in older children who are putting more pressure on the diaper due to heavier weight, but also can be caused by non-diaper forces, such as the crotch buckle of a swing or car seat, or overly tight pants.

Solution: Adjust the fit so the cloth diaper is snug but not tight. Avoid over-stuffing your cloth diapers. And allow for looser clothing to accommodate the fluff butt. Make sure baby is wearing an absorbent diaper when in the car seat is a simple fix.

Leaks through the PUL in Front, Middle or Back

Problem: Most AIO cloth diapers with built-in soaker or Pocket cloth diapers have absorbency layers evenly distributed through the diaper. If your child soaks through the certain part of the diaper you may not have enough absorbency in that specific area. Luckily this issue is easily fixed.

Solution: Add more absorbency in the problem area with boosters or cloth diaper inserts.

Typically, boys need more absorbency in the front. Don’t forget to point the penis down, or urine can flood right out of the top of the diaper without ever hitting the absorbent portion at all!

Girls need more absorbency towards the middle.

And babies who are close to sitting up but not quite there yet need more absorbency in the back.

Leaks with Side or Belly Sleepers

Problem: Pocket and AIO diapers have absorbency layers placed through the middle, but not on the sides. When child sleeps on their side or stomach, gravity can cause urine to run out the side of the diaper before it gets to the absorbent portion of the cloth diaper. In this case, using Pocket diapers or AIO diapers for naps is not a good idea. flats, prefolds, or fitteds can help, because the diapers are absorbent “all over” instead of just through the middle.

Solution: Try different style cloth diapers with absorbent layers distributed all over instead of just through the middle, such as EcoAble Fitted Cloth Diapers

Over Saturation or Child is a “Heavy Wetter”

Problem: Every child is a heavy wetter at some point.  Most commonly parents describe their child as heavy wetter between 3-12 months. This can happen at any age, especially when older babies who are beginning to hold pee for longer before wetting the cloth diaper.

Leaks will occur when the diaper is full and simply can’t contain any more liquid. You will notice that inserts or cloth diapers you’re using are completely soaked.

Solution: Make sure to change your baby’s diaper often enough. We recommend changing day-time diapers every 2-3 hours. Also you may need to add a doubler or extra insert for increased absorbency. Hemp inserts are perfect addition for heavy wetters, but other inserts will work as well.

If leaks occur at night, you may need to opt out for a night time cloth diaper specifically design to absorb a lot of liquid for prolonged time. Check out EcoAble Night Time Cloth Diapering Solutions

Old or Worn Out Inserts

Problem: Most inserts last about a year, hemp and other natural materials may last longer. Inserts are inexpensive to replace and can make huge difference to your cloth diapering.

Solution: Replace cloth diaper inserts

Leaks Due to Repelling

Problem: If you have used fabric softener, fragrances, dyes or diaper creams with your cloth diapers they may be clogging the fibers of your diapers. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can coat your machines so it is best not to use them on other laundry as well. Cloth diapers washed with improper routines may begin to repel liquids instead of absorbing them. If your cloth diapers leak and the inserts aren’t soaked, repelling might be the issue.

Solution: Fabric softener can be removed with little effort. Fill a sink or tub with hot water and add 1 Tablespoon blue Dawn. Soak cloth diapers in this solution for 30-60 minutes. In case of severe build-up or if you accidently used petroleum based diaper creams, you may need to scrub with tooth brush the inner layer of the cloth diaper. Rinse really well by hand, and then place cloth diapers in the washing machine for additional rinse. Make sure there are no suds left at the end of the cycle.

Note about diaper creams and ointments:

Diaper creams containing petroleum or petrolatum are the number one cause of repelling. Good examples are Desitin, Aquaphor, Vaseline and etc. When possible, go for cloth diaper safe creams, such as Granma El’s, Earth Mama Angel Baby, California Baby to name a few. You may also use protective liners in your cloth diapers when using diaper rash creams to avoid repelling issues. 

Improper Wash Routine

Problem: Residue buildup - Some detergents containing soap or saponified coconut oil may leave your diapers with residues that do not often rinse cleanly away in washing machine. This is also true for homemade detergents and soap nuts. When the oil or soap is left behind on fabrics, it can become water-repelling – which may cause cloth diapers to leak or repel. 

Mineral buildup – Cloth diapers can become saturated with minerals when washed repeatedly in untreated hard water. This can cause repelling and leaks over prolonged time.

Solution: If you have any buildup to the point that your diapers are repelling, it’s time to strip and try different detergent. See instructions How to Strip Cloth Diapers and List of Recommended Detergents for Cloth Diapers. Also check recommended washing instructions: How to Properly Wash Cloth Diapers in HE and Non-HE Washing Machine

Weakened Waterproof Layer

Problem: The waterproofing or lamination layer can start peeling or wearing away over time. Bleach, vinegar and certain chemicals in stain removers can break down waterproof layer, and contributing to leaks. Also very hot temperatures can deteriorate lamination layer and cause it to crack.

Check the PUL for cracks and delamination by flipping cloth diaper inside out and thoroughly inspect the PUL for cracks, tears and delamination. If you don’t find anything odd with laminate, there is a possibility that you’re experiencing positional absorbency problem. If this is the case, check solutions above how to deal with Leaks through the PUL in front, middle or back.

Solution: If laminate is damaged, your diaper will likely need to be replaced. Revise your wash and care routine to avoid this issue in the future. In some cases cloth diaper delamination can be caused by manufacturing defect, this usually happens within first few weeks of using cloth diaper. In such case, review EcoAble Warranty and contact us for assistance.