Help! My cloth diaper is leaking!
Every once in a great while, we hear from someone who is frustrated because baby's cloth diapers are leaking. That is not normal for cloth diapers, and it can be solved!
Eco-PUL™ fabric has been tried and proven over thousands of baby diapers, so while it is tempting to blame the fabric, we can safely say there is not a general problem with Eco-PUL™ fabric.
So if it's not the PUL, then what is the problem? Here are 5 Tips:
1. Do you have the right thread and needle?
Make sure you are using 100% polyester thread and a small diameter ballpoint needle. Read more PUL sewing tips here.
2. Do you have enough absorbency in the diaper?
There must be enough absorbent material to soak up all the urine baby is producing. PUL fabric will not hold liquid like a sealed plastic bag. If there is not enough absorbent material you can see leaks or seeping along the seams.
Cloth diapers need to have 6 layers of bamboo or hemp fabric for daytime, 8 layers for night and naps. And some of those super-soaker babies many need an additional booster. Read more tips on how to design your insert here.
3. Should you seal the needle holes made during sewing the PUL fabric?
In short, no. The idea of sealing the PUL seams in a hot dryer is an internet myth that has been repeated for years. The idea first came up back when people were using the old-school solvent-based PUL pre-2010 (and even then I am not sure the dryer ever really did anything for the holes, but I have personally melted PUL in a old hot dryer).
Trying to seal holes by drying extensively on hot can damage your PUL fabric. If a diaper is well made with good absorbent fabric, the tiny holes made by the needle and "filled" with poly thread will not matter. Remember, a diaper is not a plastic bag that holds liquid, it is a water-resistant barrier. Don't worry about the sewing holes. Do worry that you have enough absorbent fabric in your diaper to capture your baby's urine.
4. Are you washing the diaper correctly?
Absorbent fabrics must be washed 6-8 times to reach full soaking strength. Also, cloth diapers should not be washed with a soap-based detergent (such as Dreft) or any type of fabric softener. These can coat the absorbent fibers and cause the diaper to repel moisture and leak.
5. Does your diaper have a stay-dry layer or lining?
Microfleece, Suedecloth, and Athletic Wicking stay-dry fabrics keep baby's skin dry and comfy, but they need to be used correctly. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets coat the stay-dry fabric so that water beads up instead of wicking through. This is called "repelling." Repelling can happen even if dryer sheets are used with other laundry, not the diapers - they leave a coating in your dryer. If you suspect repelling, try washing your diapers with Dawn dish soap and hot water. Rinse thoroughly to get all the detergent out.
Stay-dry fabrics should only be one layer thick. We have had customers use microfleece to line a pocket diaper AND to top the insert. This creates two layers of stay-dry and the liquid cannot get through to the absorbent layer.
These are the main reasons cloth diapers leak. Still having trouble? There are many cloth diaper sewing groups on Facebook where you can seek additional advice.