Why Do Cloth Diapers Leak?

Nobody wants a cloth diaper to leak, and seasoned cloth diapering parents will brag about never having the infamous “blow-out” in cloth. So why are your cloth diapers leaking? Below we will address a few common problems and the relatively simple solutions to them.

First and foremost, diapers made of natural fibers have the natural plant oils in the fabrics when they are new. They must be “prepped” to remove these oils from the fabric so that they can absorb properly. All new natural fiber diapers should be washed in hot water, with the full recommended amount of a good detergent at least 5 or 6 times before wearing. However, keep in mind that it can take up to 12 washes for them to reach full absorbency, so you might need to change more frequently at first.

Secondly, cloth diapers do not contain the SAP (super absorbent polymers) gel that is in disposables, and should be changed on average every two hours to prevent leaks and keep your baby’s bottom dry.

Third, if you find that your diaper is fully saturated when you are changing, you might consider adding a booster to increase absorbency. Boosters are also helpful at times when you might not change as frequently, such as long car rides, naps and overnight. The use of petroleum and fish oil-based diaper balms and ointments can cause problems with your cloth diapers. They can bond to the absorbent fibers and prevent them from properly absorbing liquid. To ensure that your diaper has a proper fit on your child, you should be able to easily slide one finger under the elastic areas at the back and legs. However, if you can slide three fingers in than it is too loose. A nice snug fit will hold the absorbent fibers close to the baby’s body and they will be able to absorb quickly, allowing the liquid to be distributed throughout the diaper without leaking.

Troubleshooting Leaks

The decision tree below goes through the different options of what could be causing the leaks and how you can fix it: