How To Prevent Cloth Diapers From Leaking

Parenting is never easy, even when it comes to you baby’s diaper needs. After the tough selection between disposable and cloth diapers, the next big thing to deal with are the nasty leaks. Do cloth diapers leak naturally or there is a problem that needs to be addressed? Let’s find out the reasons behind cloth diapers leaking and how to deal with them.

Why Do Cloth Diapers Leak?

Just like using disposables, cloth diapers may leak if not used properly and efficiently. However, it shouldn’t be the case. Cloth diaper leaking is often associated to a problem and once you figured out what it is, you’ll find an easier way to keep leaky cloth diapers at bay.  Below are some reasons why cloth diapers leak!

Poorly fitting diapers

Babies grow too fast and you’ll never notice that your little newborn has already outgrown his diapers. So if you tend to encounter leaks lately, check first if your cloth diaper size still fits your baby. Cloth diapers should snugly fit your baby’s thighs and waist. If the elastics in your cloth diaper seems too tight, it may be time to consider getting one size up.

Similarly, cloth diapers that are too loose may be prone to leaks. If the elastics doesn’t fit your baby’s thighs or if the waist is not tight enough, you’ll eventually see urine seeping through the gaps and through your baby’s clothes.

Poorly absorbing diapers

If the cloth diapers have the perfect fit but you still experience frequent leaks, it may have something to do with absorbency. It means that the absorbent material in your cloth diaper can’t effectively hold the amount of urine in a particular period of time. If you often see fully soaked diapers, then lack of absorbency may need to be addressed to prevent leaks.

Overstuffed diapers

On the other end, overstuffing your cloth diapers with too much absorbent materials can cause more leaks rather than preventing the problem. Tossing in more inserts than what your cloth diaper can hold will end up to gaps in the leg elastics which are supposed to hold the wetness inside. Bulky isn’t always a good thing and in this case, it can lead to cloth diapers leaking around your baby’s legs.

Oversaturated or flooded diapers

When your older baby can already hold their bladder for longer stretches of time, they may end up flooding their diapers.  This means that your baby’s diaper may end up leaking with a single pee and it can be pretty frustrating.

It is also common for cloth diapers leaking at night due to oversaturation, particularly if your baby has learned to sleep through the night. Side and belly sleepers may also saturate one area of the insert which may eventually leak.

Repelling problems

In this case, cloth diapers repel instead of absorb the fluids. The repelling might be due to the residues that are left by mineral deposits from water, excess detergents, fabric conditioners and insoluble ingredients from diaper creams and ointments. Repelling due to these residues may be accompanied by skin rashes on the buttocks or smelly diapers.

Repelling may also be caused by improper prepping, especially if you have natural fabrics like cotton, hemp or bamboo. Most cloth diapers need to be pre-washed several times to maximize their absorbency.

Defective diapers

If don’t have the above reasons and your cloth diaper is still leaking, check the waterproof material for defects. The damage may be due to factory defects (if you have a newly bought set) or it may have worn out due to continued use.

Cloth diapers leaking through PUL is a common problem. The PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) or TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) layer should remain intact to keep all the moisture inside the diaper. Check the inner part of your waterproof material, paying particular attention to the area that touches the inner leg. If you see cracks or damages in the laminated surface, then expect leaking from time to time.

How To Keep Cloth Diapers From Leaking

Leaking diapers are annoying and exhausting, but it doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your cloth diapers. Luckily, there are ways to help you deal with these common problems.

Prewash your cloth diapers

The prewashing instructions depends on the type of fabric. Natural fabric diapers such as bamboo, cotton, and hemp need multiple washes before you achieve their optimum absorbency.

Invest in high quality cloth diapers

Cheaper varieties maybe appealing, but these may end up leaking very soon. High quality cloth diapers are more durable and fit most babies nicely, making them more cost effective in the long run. Click here to shop for new cloth diapers on Amazon!

Get the right size and fit

Check if your cloth diaper fits your baby well.  To do this, lay your baby on his back with his diaper on. Raise your baby’s legs to assume a crawling position. There should be no gaps between the diaper and your baby’s inner legs. Gaps indicate that the size is too large for your baby.

Also, make sure that the cloth diaper snugly fits your baby’s waist. Depending on the cloth diaper you use, you can adjust the fit through its Velcro (aplix) or snap fasteners. A good fit means that your cloth diaper is flat at the front, the back, and the crotch areas.

Keep all inserts, prefolds or fitted diaper within the waterproof layer

The inserts, prefolds, or fitted diaper should all be contained inside the waterproof layer to prevent leaks. The elastics around the legs and waist are built to do this job. If any part of your absorbent material is sticking out, it may also be a room for leakage.

Add or size up your absorbent material

Tossing in an additional insert might be the most obvious solution to lack of absorbency problems. You can use a prefold or booster to do this job. However, you need to be extra careful not to overstuff your diaper. So the next best thing to do is consider sizing up your all in ones or the prefolds.

Switch the fabric

Maximizing absorbency doesn’t necessarily mean stuffing too many prefolds or boosters. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of the cloth fiber that you use. Each fabric has its own advantages. For example, a microfiber insert can quickly absorb and keep your baby dry, but its capacity is not as much as what a cotton or hemp insert can hold.

Inserts that are made of natural fibers can generally absorb more without being bulky. Thus, they can be a nice alternative to prevent your cloth diapers from leaking.

Fold your inserts or boosters

If your cloth diaper leaks when baby sleeps on side or on his stomach, the oversaturated area should be given particular attention. If you have a baby boy, flooding is most likely on the front of the diaper, while for a baby girl, it is at the back of the diaper. You can use a booster folded in half or simply fold the diaper’s insert on the area that is prone to leakage.

Positioning microfibers and natural fibers

If you’re using a cloth diaper with a microfiber layer, make sure that it is positioned over the cotton or hemp inserts for optimum absorption.

However, if you have a newborn, the cotton or hemp insert must be placed on top of the microfiber layer. Why? It’s because a newborn’s pee is not forceful enough to push the fluids through the microfiber. You’ll need to place the absorbent material on top to make sure that the urine is well absorbed and prevent leaks.

Layering prefolds

You can use a larger prefold over a newborn prefold to double up the layers. Of course, you’ll also need a waterproof cover such as wool because prefolds are not waterproof on their own. This technique can be used to prevent cloth diapers leaking overnight.

Try a fitted diaper and insert combination.

Another solution to oversaturated diapers or cloth diapers leaking at night is to pair an organic fitted diaper with an extra insert. Bamboo or hemp are superabsorbent fabrics that can work best for fitted diapers worn overnight. You’ll need to use a waterproof wrap over the diaper to contain the moisture inside.

Replace worn out inserts

Synthetic inserts may worn out faster than natural fabric inserts. If you feel that your current cloth diaper insert can’t do its job perfectly, you may consider buying new ones. Don’t worry! Replacing inserts won’t take a huge part of your budget and a much cheaper solution to prevent recurrent leakage.

Consider other measures.

Sometimes, the problem is not the cloth diaper itself. Some other things you can do to prevent cloth diapers leaking are:

  • Using bodysuits that fit well properly to prevent compression leaks.
  • Make sure your baby boy’s penis is pointing down to prevent leaks on the top of the cloth diaper.
  • Avoid using fabric conditioners on washing cloth diapers to prevent the build-up of residues.
  • Be careful in using diaper creams and ointments because some varieties may damage the diaper’s absorbency.
  • Read and follow the instructions of the proper use and care of your cloth diapers because they greatly vary per manufacturer.


Cloth diapers leaking can be annoying and exhausting, but there are lots of things you can do to fix the problem. If you’re new to cloth diapering, it would also be helpful to ask assistance from someone who has more experience on using cloth diapers.

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  1. Leaking diapers do pose problems both for the baby and the caretaker.

    You have given constructive suggestions to take care of leaking cloth diapers. Keeping a vigil and changing them more often could also be one solution.

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