Trouble- Shooting Leaks in Cloth Diapers: The 3 Main Reasons Your Baby's Diaper is Leaking, And How to Fix it

Occasionally, I come across the plea for help from the parent who is dealing with their cloth diaper leaking.
It is generally an easy issue to troubleshoot- and resolve.
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The three main reasons a cloth diaper leaks:

1. Fit Issues. 
Where is the diaper leaking? If it is out the top, or around the legs, it could be a fit issue.
Mastering a good fit in a cloth diaper can be a slight learning curve (or even when switching between brands).

Quick tips:
  • Make sure you are on the correct rise setting for your baby's size. If there's leg gaps, you likely need to go down a rise. If there is gaping at the belly, you may need to go out a rise.
  • Leg elastics should sit snugly along the "underwear line" with no gaping.
  • The waistband should be snug, but still allow you to easily slide your fingers between the diaper and baby's belly.
2. Absorbency.
If the diaper insert is completely saturated, the leaks are likely because of an absorbency issue.
Cloth (well, actually all) diapers should be changed about every two hours. If you are changing too infrequently, the diaper will likely leak.
If they are being saturated faster than this (or if you need to stretch longer between changes for any reason), you will need to change your absorbency.

Whether this is by simply adding a *booster to your current insert, or changing it all-together to a more absorbent type of insert.

*Boosters are smaller inserts that are added to your current diaper to help "boost" the absorbency. They come in all varieties, from microfiber, to cotton, to hemp, or even my favorite booster- a cloth wipe.

Note: Microfiber inserts are prone to compression leaks when wet. Think of ringing out a wet sponge. When pressure is put on the wet insert, water can be squeezed out to cause leaks. This can be remedied by wrapping it in a natural fiber (like cotton).

3. Repelling.
The very least common cause of diaper leaks is repelling.
Repelling is caused by buildup of some kind on the diaper, preventing it from absorbing.
Natural fibers, like hemp and cotton, that have have not been fully "prepped" will not absorb as well because they are still coated in their natural oils.

Washing diapers with fabric softener, too weak of detergent, in untreated hard water, or using petroleum-based diaper creams (on synthetic fibers) can also cause buildup on the diaper.

In this case, it may have to be stripped in order to remove the buildup.
I promise I will do a post on stripping diapers soon, but in the mean time, here is a post from Padded Tush Stats on stripping.
It can be done easily by washing with Grovia Mighty Bubbles or RLR.

In the very most tragic and non-remedial case, there is damage to the waterproof PUL of the diaper causing leaks.Worn, cracked, or delaminated PUL can lead it to leak once the inner is wet.

Don't be intimidated or turned away because of a leaking diaper! Beyond PUL damage, most leaks can be solved fairly easily.

Cloth diapering really is a simple process once you dive in!
See my complete guide here.


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