We want you to be happy with your cloth diapers. Occasionally, you may experience leaks. More often than not, this is an easy problem to solve. Here are some suggestions:

  • Are your diapers unbleached? If so, you need to prep them before use by washing and drying them at least 3 times. Natural fibers still contain naturally-occuring oils, you need to strip these oils so that your diapers will become absorbent. You can boil prefolds and inserts to speed this process up (do not boil anything with snaps). You know your diapers are ready to go when you flick water on a dry diaper with your fingertips, and the water is absorbed easily. If the water beads up, you need to wash and dry the diapers again.
  • Is anything poking out of the diaper cover or pocket diaper opening? If you see any part of the prefold or fitted diaper sticking out from the cover (around the legs or waist), it will wick moisture out of the diaper, and onto your babyxs clothing; same goes for a pocket diaper insert. If you see anything sticking out, tuck it in.
  • Are the diapers snug around your babyxs waist and legs? Often times, new (OK, first-time) parents will put the diaper and/or cover on too loose to avoid causing their baby discomfort. If there is a gap, the diaper will leak. Fasten the diaper snugly at the legs and waist. If you have a newborn with skinny legs, you can add a doubler to the diaper to bulk it up around the legs (or insert two inserts into a pocket diaper). As your baby grows and puts on fat, this problem will go away.
  • Is the pocket diaper inset bunched?  If you're using pocket diapers, ensure the insert lies flat within the pocket.  To stuff the diaper, push the front of the insert down into the pocket; when you pull your hand out of the pocket, spread out your fingers so you flatten the insert on the way out.
  • Does your baby have a tiny bum? If you are using pocket diaper with a microfleece or microsuede lining, your newborn's bum may not be big enough to fit the diaper properly -- pressure is required for pee to soak through this lining into the absorbent insert.  Without the pressure of your baby's bum lying against the microfleece or microsude, his/her pee might puddle and roll out of the diaper.  This problem is easy to solve, you can place the absorbent insert directly against your baby's bum (ie, not in the diaper's pocket) until s/he fills out a little more in the bum.
  • Is your baby wearing a diaper that is sized properly? If you have a newborn and s/he is even a half-pound lighter than the recommended weight range of a diaper, you may experience leaks. If you are stuffing your 22 lb baby into a diaper that fits up to 15 lbs, you may experience leaks (bigger babies pee more!). Please use the size that fits. As tempting as it may be to xsize upx (or down) to economize, itxs only going to cause problems.
  • Are you using a hemp diaper or hemp inserts?  Hemp is a very dense fabric -- in some cases, the pee will roll off the hemp fabric before it can be absorbed. Simply place a fast-absorbing insert (ie. microfiber or cotton fleece) between the hemp and your baby's bum to absorb the pee immediately. The hemp fabric can soak up the pee from the fast-aborbing insert.
  • Have you been using diaper cream? You should avoid using diaper cream to prevent diaper rash, only use it to treat diaper rash, and apply it sparingly. Avoid creams with zinc, fish oil, or petroleum. These creams can build up on your diapers, causing them to repel. If you must use a cream, use a paper liner to act as a barrier between your babyxs bum and the diaper. If your baby is rashy, nothing is better than air to treat diaper rash -- put your baby diaperless on a waterproof mat, and his/her bum will clear up in no time. If you need to remove diaper cream from your diapers, you can use a toothbrush with Dawn degreasing dishwashing detergent to spot-remove the diaper cream, and follow the stripping directions at the bottom of this article.
  • How often are you changing your baby? Regardless of whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers, you should change your baby every 2-3 hours, or when s/he has a bowel movement. Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers will leak when saturated. If you have a heavy wetter, you may need to change closer to the 2-hour mark (or more frequently, if needed), or you can use a doubler to increase the time between diaper changes. Please keep in mind that a clean diaper is best for your baby's skin.
  • How old are your diapers? This may seem like a strange question, but one of the wonderful things about cloth diapers his that when you are finished using them, you can pass them on to friends or family. Itxs not unusual for the same set of cloth diapers to be used for three or more children. If a diaper has been used through multiple children, itxs fibers will be thinner, and less absorbent. Using a doubler or two may help, but please bare in mind that like any other product washed hundreds (and hundreds!) of times, cloth diapers do have a life expectancyx they will give up the ghost eventually!
  • How are you washing your diapers? Please ensure you use a small amount (1/4 to ½ the recommended amount) of approved detergent. Avoid anything with whiteners, brighteners, enzymes, scents, or dyes. Do not use any fabric softener with your diapers, or with other clothing (the fabric softener can transfer from the dryer to your diapers). If you have a high-efficiency machine that adds water based on the weight of the load, itxs possible you are not using enough water to wash your diapers. If you think this is the case, add a wet towel to the load -- this will weigh it down, and your machine will use more water. If you have a toploader, set the machine one setting larger than what you are washing (ie, if you're washing a "small" load of diapers, set your machine to the "medium" setting).

Detergent build-up can prevent your diapers from absorbing properly, it is usually accompanied by smell problems. Too much detergent, the wrong kind of detergent, liberal use of diaper cream, and hard water can all cause detergent build-up.  Whatever the cause may be, you want to wash out whatever is hanging around in the diapers.

How to "Strip" your diapers and diaper covers (directions courtesy of Bummis):

  1. Run your diapers and diaper covers through a wash with only hot water.
  2. Run a second wash using ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar in the wash and ½ cup vinegar again in the first rinse cycle.
  3. Run a second rinse cycle with plain water.
  4. Repeat entire process.