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.)
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.
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.