Leaks. And How to Fix Them.

Yes, cloth diapers do occasionally leak.  (So do disposables, by the way).  Here in blog form is the checklist I usually run through with parents who are experiencing leaks with their cloth diapers.  Probably 96% of the leak problems can be solved by going through this list. 

1. Fit.  Is your baby in the weight range suggested by the diaper?  Do the legs and waist fit snugly with no gapping?  Is your baby at least 10 lbs? (Most “one-size” diapers that claim to fit babies 8-35 lbs do not fit well until around 10 lbs.) 

Never use fabric softener on cloth diapers

2. Repelling. If when you change the baby’s diaper, the diaper is dry or mostly dry but their clothes are soaked, you either have an issue with fit (if the legs aren’t snug enough they’ll pee right out the side of their diaper) or repelling.  So if you’ve checked the fit, and the diaper is still leaking but when you change it a large area of the diaper inside is still dry, you probably have a repelling issue.  Repelling is caused by residue on your diapers.  It can be caused by diaper ointments, detergents that aren’t clean-rinsing, or sometimes minerals deposited from hard water.  Make sure that you are using a cloth-safe detergent like Rockin Green or Ruby Moon, NO fabric softeners, and cloth-safe diaper ointment like Grandma El’s or Earth Mama Angel Baby.  You may need to strip your diapers to get the residue out, which can be accomplished two ways.  One, soak for 30 minutes in 3-4 tbsp of Rockin Green detergent, then launder normally.  Two, you can wash the diapers in hot water with no detergent but a small squirt of liquid dish soap.  Then continue to run wash cycles on hot until there are no more bubbles, usually 3-4 cycles. 

Thirsties hemp doublers boost absorbency without adding bulk


3. Absorbency. If, on the other hand, the inner of the diaper is completely saturated when you go to change the diaper, then the problem is not repelling but simply not enough absorbency.  There are two ways to fix this.  First, you can add absorbency, for example by adding a hemp doubler to the inside of the diaper.  Or, you can change your baby more often.  Personally I go towards the “add absorbency” method. 

4. Re-waterproofing.  Sometimes PUL (the laminated waterproof outer of a diaper or cover) can get tiny invisible holes in it, usually around the stitching at the legs.  This can be fixed by tossing them in the dryer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes or so.  The heat from the dryer will reseal the PUL. 

If you’re still having trouble after going through these steps, feel free to contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.  You can also call the manufacturer of the diaper.  Most cloth diaper manufacturers are moms themselves and are happy to help other parents succeed at cloth diapering.


Best Diapers For…

Frequently we will have new parents come to the store and ask us “What’s the best diaper?”  The thing is, I can’t answer that question, because it’s not the same for everyone.  But after getting to know the parents a little bit, learning about their lifestyle (stay at home parent or daycare?  Washer and dryer in home or laundromat?), preferences (Need the easiest solution?  Want only natural and organic fabrics?) and budget, we can help our customers find the perfect diaper for their baby.  Here’s a list of some of the “bests” for certain situations.

prefold diapers cost just $2-3 each

Least Expensive

The least expensive diaper will be a prefold or a flat diaper with a cover.  Used is even cheaper (we have quite a few gently used prefolds in stock right now).  We will teach you how to fold them and put them on with a snappi fastener (no need to use pins!) or you can fold them in thirds and lay them inside the cover.  The least expensive cover is the Econobum, a one-size cover for $8.95, however it will not usually fit a newborn.  The least expensive to fit a newborn will be the Thirsties XS cover at $11.25, or for $1.50 more you can get a size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap which will fit up to 18 lbs.  You can also make your own wool covers from upcycled sweaters from the thrift store – super cheap!

Flat diapers dry the quickest because they are just a single layer, folded

Quickest Drying

A flat diaper is the quickest drying since it unfolds to only a single layer of fabric.  Pocket diapers with microfiber inserts also dry pretty quickly.  A quick rule of thumb is that man-made fibers dry quicker than natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and hemp.  All-in-one’s generally take the longest to dry, except for the Mommys Touch all-in-one, which due to its unique design and being made of microfiber, will dry faster than even a prefold. 

Best Bottom shells are one-size but the inserts are sized - very trim.


In my experience there are two things that contribute to a trim diaper: cut and fabric.  A diaper that has absorbent material only down the center of the diaper and none wrapping around the baby’s hips will be trimmer than one that wraps thick absorbent material around the baby like a prefold does.  As for fabric, microfiber tends to be “fluffy” while tightly knit cotton, bamboo, and hemp can be denser and therefore trimmer.  Finally, a diaper that is sized as opposed to one-size (or at least that has the inserts sized) will be trimmer on a smaller baby because you will have less material on the smaller size.  Some of the trimmest diapers that we carry are the BumGenius Elemental (all-in-one) and the Best Bottom Diaper (all-in-two).  The hemp/cotton insert is trimmer than the microfiber insert in the Best Bottoms. 

BumGenius diapers are easy to change from small to large

Best for Two Kids in Diapers

The nice thing about one-size diapers is that when you have two different-size babies both in diapers, you can still use the same diapers on both kids.  So, one-size diapers are a given, but which ones?  For easier switching between sizes, steer clear of diapers that change size by adjusting the elastic (like Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana, Rocky Mountain Diapers, and SoftBums) and pick one that changes size by snapping down in front.  The external snaps just pop open or snap down quickly so you can easily change the diaper’s size to fit whatever kid you happened to grab!

Best Overnight Diaper

Although some parents have success using pocket diapers overnight, for those that don’t, we recomend a  double-layered prefold or heavy-duty fitted diaper such as the Tiny Tush Trim with an extra doubler or a Happy Hempy stuffable fitted stuffed with a hemp prefold.  Usually PUL covers work fine, but for a super-soaker baby you can try a wool cover like the Tiny Tush organic wool soaker. 

What about you?  What special situation makes you seek out YOUR perfect diaper?