Cloth Diapers leaking. It’s a common issue. But it doesn’t need to be! Decreasing, or preventing, leaks is possible. We are here to help.
Why Do Cloth Diapers Leak?
There are a few basic things to consider if you are having issues. The cloth diaper needs to fit correctly. (We are developing a comprehensive fit guide to help with this). The second consideration is that the diaper needs to be able to absorb the load in it. If the diaper isn’t absorbent, than all the stuff inside it needs to go somewhere. So it leaks. Lastly, the diaper may repelling issues, which is normal and means you’ve been using the diaper correctly for a while.
The main reasons diapers leak are easy to resolve with a tweak or two.
Troubleshooting Cloth Diapers That Leak
To stop the leaks we need to determine whether the leak is due to fit, due to absorbency or repelling. Use the troubleshooting guide below to narrow down the cause. Then follow the guides on how to resolve the issue and get back to dry pants!
Troubleshooting Cloth Diapers That Leak- What is the Age?
As your child grows, so does the amount they output. Toddlers tend to have more urine each pee compared to babies and infants. The resolution for this type of leak is rather easy, add extra booster to your diaper. This can be an additional insert, a disposable pad- called Sposies, or maybe even a pre-fold to help absorb all that extra urine.
Troubleshooting: What Time Of Day Is It?
Depending on the time of the day, the cause of the leak could be different.
Cloth Diaper Leaking During The Day
If you are seeing leaks during daytime hours you may be going too long between changes, especially if your child is consuming a lot of liquids. On average during awake hours you should change diapers every 2 hours. There might be times you can go a bit longer, but if you consistently go 3 hours or more, try changing diapers every 2 hours. This may be the only change you need to avoid the leaks.
If you’re changing often, the fit might need to be adjusted. First try loosening the snaps or Velcro by 1 snap. When diapers are too tight, the squeeze (or compression) will cause the waste to leak.
If your diapers are one size, it might be time to adjust the rise, if you haven’t yet or it’s been a while.
Onesies are one of the easiest baby outfits, but could also be the cause of your leaks. The snaps on the onesie could cause compression leaks. There are a few options that are very easy fixes to see if this is the cause. First, you can try only snapping the outer two snaps on the onesie, as most have three snaps across. Leaving the middle snap open takes some of the pressure off the diaper. If you don’t see any improvement adjusting the snaps, you could size up the onesie. The looser fit allows for plenty of room between the clothing and the diaper. Lastly, if snapping the onesie isn’t important to you, and you don’t mind it simply tucked into the bottoms, you will remove all compression from the diaper.
Cloth Diapers Leaking During Nap Time
Once you little lovie starts to nap 2-3 hours at a time, you will want to consider using a fitted diaper that is more absorbent that your daytime diapers. These diapers are designed to be extremely absorbent, and hold a lot of liquid. You may also want to add a PUL diaper cover over the fitted diaper to guarantee no leaks.
If your babe is still taking several shorter naps, but you’re still seeing leaks consider how they’re sleeping. If you have a stomach sleeper add an extra insert toward the front of the diaper to absorb the extra urine.
Cloth Diapers Leaking Overnight
As your little one starts to sleep longer stretches and no longer require overnight diaper changes (this typically occurs around the 6 month mark for full term babies.) You may find that using daytime diapers isn’t cutting it, and you’re seeing a lot of leaks.
If your kiddo is a boy, point his penis down at diaper changes. If it’s direction is elsewhere there is less room for the pee to absorb.
For nighttime, we recommend fitted diapers with a PUL cover to keep jammies, and sheet dry.
If you little is a heavy wetter, you can add extra inserts to keep him or her dry longer.
For more information see Cloth Diapers Overnight Troubleshooting Guide.
Where Is The Cloth Diaper Leaking?
Our first tip is to always inspect the elastics. If those are good, there are a few things that you can do in other areas that should help resolve any issues.
Around The Waist
After you’ve inspected the elastic, next consider the rise, if you have one size diapers. As your baby grows, the diapers grow with them. Unsnapping the front buttons gives more coverage and more material to soak up pee.
If you still see leaks consider how your little one is sleeping. If he or she is a stomach sleeper, consider adding extra inserts, or a booster pad.
Up the back
When you see leaks up the back of the diaper and the PUL isn’t the issue, the diaper may not be pulled high enough. Make sure the diaper fits high on the waist, and the entire rear is covered. This means no plumber crack peeking! If the fit and PUL are on point, try adding more inserts, or it may be time to strip your stash.
Around The Legs
Inspect the elastic. If it’s not tight, you may want to replace. If your diapers are new or the elastic is taut, make sure there is no gapping around the thighs once the diaper is fastened. Thigh elastic should sit naturally where underwear would typically hit. You may need to wiggle the elastic up or down a bit to ensure a proper fit. If there is any gaps, adjust the tightness around the waist.
There will be times that adding an extra insert will resolve your leaking issues. This is best case, as it’s the easiest and quickest fix. But, the type of insert you use could be causing the leaks. Hemp and Bamboo are great options for overnight and nap time diapers. However, both of these are slow to absorb the output. If your babes pee frequently the material of the diaper may not have time to absorb everything before their next output.
Cotton and Microfiber absorb more quickly, but be cautious as microfiber doesn’t hold as much, which could also be a cause of leaks in itself. Cotton is able to hold more, but still less than Bamboo and Hemp. For more in Hemp Inserts see Hemp Cloth Diapers – 3 Best Hemp Inserts for Cloth Diapers.
For more information see Cloth Diapers Absorbency Hacks, Tips, and Tricks.
Repelling Cloth Diaper Leaks
Once you have been using and washing your cloth diapers for a while, they may start to repel. What does this mean, and how do you resolve?
Build up in your diapers from hard water, fabric softeners (please don’t use these on diapers) or detergent build up could result in leaks. You want your diapers to absorb urine. If there is build up the diapers don’t have any room to take more on, so that urine has to go somewhere, causing leaks.
To resolve you will want to strip your diapers. We’re working on an in depth How To Strip post. But, to summarize: using a special stripping product, we love GroVia Mighty Bubbles soak your diapers for 5-6 hours in HOT water. You can soak in your washer or a bath tub (if you don’t own a washing machine.) The easiest way to soak is to fill the machine with water, and pause it for the time you want to soak.
Once you’ve soaked for 5-6 hours, or even overnight, finish the wash cycle, and then run another hot cycle using detergent. Dry your diapers as you normally would
How Do I Stop Cloth Diapers From Leaking?
- Guide to Fit
- Guide to Strip
- Read our guide on: Cloth Diaper Absorbency: Hacks, Tips, and Tricks
Bottomline To Cloth Diapers Leaking
At some point, all of us see leaks with our cloth diapers. Once you determine the root of the issue, most of the time the fix is easy and quick.