At some point during your cloth diapering experience, you'll most likely experience a leak. Maybe more. Maybe a LOT more.
And while some leaks happen when a diaper change is a bit overdue, or when a child suddenly starts peeing ocean-like volumes all at one time, many times leaks are cause by something minor that a little tweaking will fix.
Here is a guide to figuring out what type of leak you have, and how to resolve it!
- Compression Leaks - Compression leaks are fun little occurrences that can cause massive amounts of frustration and many wardrobe changes throughout the day. These are caused by excess pressure against the diaper, such as when a child is strapped into the carseat, sitting in a bouncer, wearing a too-tight onesie, or snugly pressed against your hip as you walk around trying to do chores one-handed.Compression leaks almost always occur at the leg openings, and can often leave cute little crescent-shaped wet spots on your or your child's clothing. To remedy compression leaks, there are a few options:
- Change your baby more often. The average recommended time to go between changing a cloth diaper is between 2 - 3 hours, but if you're getting compression leaks after an hour or two, try to time diaper changes a bit earlier.
- Double up the inserts. Sometimes using two microfiber inserts instead of one allows for a "back-up" source of absorbency to collect what is squeezed out of the first one. While this can be effective, it can also be bulky unless you use a natural fiber insert like hemp, bamboo, or cotton, which leads me to the third option:
- Natural fiber inserts. While microfiber is a fantastic, thirsty material, it is also quite spongy, and thus is the more common culprit of compression leaks. Natural fiber inserts such as those listed above have more tightly-woven fibers, making compression leaks virtually impossible. You can use them on their own, or pair them up with a microfiber insert or another natural-fiber insert for a great solution to leaks!
- Leaks from improper fit
This can be tricky if you're using a sized diaper because the options for adjusting the diapers are usually limited to hip and leg snaps. To get the best fit with a sized diaper, always secure the leg snaps first, and then secure the hip snaps. Make sure that the legs are tight enough that you can only slide one finger beneath the elastics.
With our One Size diapers, getting a good fit is much more attainable thanks to fully-adjustable buttonhole elastics. The most common leak zone that I see when fit is the issue is from the leg openings. This usually occurs because the front area of the leg opening is too loose, which causes gaps when a child is sitting or lying in certain positions, which causes leaks.
Even though the front ends of our leg elastics are designed as anchors, I always recommend adjusting this side of the elastics as well as the back. To do this, turn your diapers completely inside-out, and you will be able to access the front ends of each leg elastic (the ends closest to the front tummy panel of the diaper), as well as the back ends of each leg elastic (the ends closest to the waist elastic at the back of the diaper). Start out by securing your buttons at the same button hole on each side (i.e; set the front ends to 4 and the back ends to 4), and then re-adjust if needed, one button hole at a time until you find the perfect fit.
- Leaks from repelling inserts
Repelling is caused when residues from detergent, fabric softeners, diaper creams, or minerals from your water accumulate in the fibers of your diapers and create a "coating" of sorts which repels liquids instead of absorbing them. Over time, most cloth diaper users will find that their diapers do not absorb as well as they used to, in which case you will simply need to strip them to restore absorbency.
There are many different ways to strip your diapers, but the two that I have found to be the most effective are to either use our Strip Rx (link to product here), or to strip with an oxygenated bleach using the following method:
- Start with clean diapers
- For top loaders, fill your washing machine to the max with hot water. For HE front-loaders, I recommend stripping in your bathtub or in a large, clean receptacle like a garbage bin.
- Drop 4 - 5 Tablespoons of Oxo-Brite into the water, add your diapers, and allow the washing machine to begin agitating (or agitate the diapers manually with your hands, enough to work the solution into the diapers).
- Allow the diapers to agitate for a couple of minutes, then stop the cycle and close the lid to keep the heat in (or simply let the diapers rest in the water if you are stripping them in your tub/receptacle).
- Let the diapers soak for at least 6 hours, up to overnight.
- Resume the cycle if you are stripping the diapers in your washing machine, or drain the bathtub and transfer the diapers to your washing machine. Run one or two full hot wash cycles with no detergent.
- Dry on low heat or hang to dry.
This is usually all that is needed to restore absorbency to your diapers, though a second stripping may be necessary if you have severe build-up.
If the build-up is caused from using the wrong kind of detergent, from using fabric softeners (which are a no-no), or from using problematic diaper creams/ointments, strip the diapers and then begin fresh with an approprate detergent free of scents, dyes, optical brighteners, fabric softeners, and enzymes. Avoid fabric softeners (even with regular household laundry), and use only cloth-diaper safe rash solutions. One of our favorites is "Bee All Natural Baby Powder!" (link to product)
- Leaks from oversaturation
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and is simply when the inserts become saturated to the point where they can no longer hold any more liquid. Cloth diapers are pretty darn absorbent, but they do have limits, and at some point an insert's threshold for absorption is going to max out. Making sure to change your child at regular intervals and doubling-up when necessary will prevent soggy bottoms and spoiled outfits.
Hopefully this list of common types of leaks and their most effective solutions will help you in the instance that you have to deal with one. If you find that you can't seem to resolve the issue on your own, make sure to reach out to your retailer or customer support (you can reach us here: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Use code 'elastics' for 10% off of replacement elastics. ~ Lindsay Lewis