When Cloth Diapers Leak Part 2

On Friday, I began this series (When Cloth Diapers Leak Part 1) by discussing 4 causes of cloth diaper leaks.  To remind you, here is the list:

  1. Poor fit.
  2. Soaker material vs. pee speed incompatibility.
  3. Poor construction of the diaper.
  4. Heavy Wetter.
  5. Over saturation.
  6. Compression leaks.
  7. Repelling either from rash cream or fabric softener (& occasionally some detergents).
  8. Wrong size.
  9. Inserts need to be replaced.

Today, I will discuss #5-#9.

Leaks due to over saturation

Every soaker has it’s limits. This isn’t always time dependent. Just because you change a diaper every 2 hours doesn’t mean you won’t have leaks. Sterling loves to go dry for multiple hours then let it all out when I’ve just put him in his car seat. Of course I don’t discover it until we arrive at our destination and he’s soaked along with the car seat.

The best way for me to prevent the scenario above is to make sure the diaper he’s wearing is super absorbent.

Making sure to change your baby often will save you from a wet mess.

Leaks due to compression

Microfiber is known for compression leaks. If your child sits in a car seat and pees, their weight can press the liquid out of the soaker. This is most often seen when using an all-in-one with a sewn in soaker.

Again, making sure baby is wearing an absorbent diaper when in the car seat is a simple fix. You can also buy a piddle pad

for the car seat for the unexpected accident.

Leaks due to repelling

Don’t use fabric softener. Yes, there are cloth diaper safe brands but if you want to be extra safe just skip it. Same thing with dryer sheets. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets will coat your machines so it is best not to use them on other laundry as well.

If a slip-up does occur you can strip with Dawn, as you know Dawn breaks down the oils. You will need to rinse like crazy to get all the suds out.

The more common cause of repelling is from diaper rash creams. Here are a few cloth diaper safe rash creams for you to choose from:

You may also use liners in your cloth diapers when using diaper rash creams for extra protection. Mother-Ease disposable liners are highly recommended.

If you mistakenly use a diaper rash cream that is not safe for cloth diapers, don’t panic! 99% of the time you can fix it.  It will take some heavy duty elbow grease.  In severe cases, moms have had to take each diaper and individually scrub them with a toothbrush and Dawn.  Time consuming. Frustrating. Worth it. You certainly won’t make the same mistake twice though!

Leaks due to wrong size

This one actually goes right along with poor fit. When your baby is too big for a diaper, leaks similar to compression leaks occur. When the diaper is too big for your baby the pee slips right through the spaces.

Wrong size can also apply to the size of the insert in a pocket. Make sure the insert fully fills the inside of the pocket. You don’t want space between the elastic and the insert, because naturally that’s where the pee will go ;)

Leaks due to old, worn out inserts

An insert won’t last forever. Microfiber lasts about a year. Hemp and other natural fiber inserts (like prefolds) after prolonged use will become ratty and thin. Inserts are inexpensive to replace and can make a world of difference to your diapering.

Sometimes the inserts just need to be stripped. An overnight soak in Rockin Green Hard Rock

or RLR is a simple solution.

There’s no doubt that you will have fewer leaks with cloth diapers than with disposable diapers. One of my least favorite memories of diapering my 1st child is her DAILY yellow poopy blowouts. Ugh! Most days it was more than once. Not only was it a mess to clean but the clothes were stained.

I was so joyful not having any blowouts with my 3rd and 4th babies, who were cloth diapered from birth.

Although leaks are frustrating, they can be fixed. Like every other problem, it takes time, effort and patience but the solution is always worth it.

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

27 Responses to “When Cloth Diapers Leak Part 2”

  1. Theresa Says:

    Hi Autumn,
    This site is very helpful. I am 4 months pregnant and trying to figure out how to make cloth diapering work in our situation. We live in an apartment building and would be doing all laundry using communal washers and dryers. I’m concerned that my diapers will pick up residue from other people’s use of dryer sheets/fabric softeners. Does this mean we’ll be scrubbing down the machines the two or three times a week we’ll be washing diapers? If anyone has successfully used cloth diapers in this sort of setting I would love any advice.



  2. Joy Says:

    Hey Autumn,

    My baby just hit 7weeks old… my first baby and my first cloth diapering experience…. So before the baby came, I washed and dried all the cloth diapers I had purchased a few times (rumparoos pocket, bum genius pocket, three monkeys AIO, Thirsties fitted with covers)- I tried some of them on him and it was definitely still repelling. So I reran them through the washer (GE front loader) about 5 or so more times with Crunchy Clean diaper detergent and they still seem to be repelling… I mean literally he pees and it just POURS out…
    I’ve tried all the different kinds, on different settings to see if it was the fit, but he finally has enough chub on his legs that it isn’t the fit… Any ideas?? ((Aside from washing them another 374829347 times- as now I feel like I’m just plain wasting water))
    Thanks a ton!! Your site is great…


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      have you used fabric softener or dryer sheets at all in your machines?


      • Joy Says:

        We haven’t been using dryer sheets for a long time now in preperation for the diapers… plus I’ve been pretty much hanging the diapers rather than using the dryer…
        So I washed most of them a few more times and SOME are doing better, but there are some that it’s still just POURING out…
        Any other ideas?


        • Nicole Says:

          I know this response is too old to help the person who asked, but maybe it will help someone else. It sounds like you were putting the detergent in every wash. Detergent builds up and causes diapers to repel. Before drying they need to be rinsed extra each time, and every few washes they need to be dried and then run back through the hot wash while still clean, without detergent, to strip them. Dry and repeat until no bubbles in the cycle, and that should reduce the repelling of liquid.


  3. Debbie Says:

    Hi Autumn,

    These are great tips, thank you! I am wondering if you have any thoughts on my leaks experience. My lo has wet leaks many mornings seemingly regardless of what kind of diaper he was in for the night. The leaks we get tend to be at his hip and back, and this happens with Thirsties duo diaper with inserts, BG 4 one size pocket, and kissaluvs fitted with cover. And I do put his wee wee pointing down. Any thoughts? I believe I am making the waist snug and am surprised that the wetness is up by his hip / back and not by the legs so I am not sure how to fix. Thanks!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      try adding a doubler or insert that will provide double coverage in the crotch and back. Also I would definitely look into a wool cover.


  4. Erin Says:

    Hey Autumn,
    We have a leakage issue. I think it is the fact that the diapers don’t snuggly fit around my baby’s thighs. If this is the problem is should work its way once she grows into them… however, we just got over another yeast issue and used lotrimin and nystatin to get rid of it and think that the inserts need some stripping. Can any soap work besides Dawn? I have Rockin’ Green and I am going to try that, but we don’t have Dawn, in case I need to go that route. Thanks for your blog! I love it!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Does “inserts” imply that you use pockets? If so then you’d need to scrub the inner lining. If you are just referring to a lay-in soaker them you could give a soak in RnG a try. If the soakers are removable you can boil them.


  5. Amanda M. Says:

    So what can one do about a “coated” dryer. I am not diapering yet, just doing my research beforehand. I have used dryer sheets since I bought my dryer a year ago. Will this coating dissipate just with quitting dryer sheets after awhile, or do I need to treat it with something?


  6. CP Says:

    Our cloth diapers leaked at least once a day from the day my daughter was home from the hospital. Disposables rarely leak, and it’s always because they weren’t pulled tightly enough around the waist. I know that our cloth diapers had diaper-cream buildup and detergent buildup, but after a good stripping (they are now absorbent and non-stinky) they still leak. I have a stash of Wonder-fulls, passed down from a friend. The covers always seem to gap around the thighs, but I don’t know how not to make them do this because there doesn’t seem to be any elastic in them. I’ve had the best luck with the Thirsties covers. I find the velcro to be more adjustable than the snaps. I hope to solve my cloth diapering problems because I plan to go back to using cloth to help my baby finish potty training. For the record, my baby is long and skinny and 7 months old.


  7. Asashia Says:

    Hi Autumn,
    I have a question about potty training. My son is almost 2, so I’ve been looking into how to get started. I would like to use cloth training diapers/pants. Do you have any you recommend? Should I be looking for day vs. night training options?


  8. Elizabeth Says:

    Just curious, but awhile back I had searched your site for cloth safe rash creams and you had a list that recommended method brand rash cream. I have been using it a little lately, but after reading this post was wondering if you would no longer recommend it? I have used and really like Grandma El’s, but method is about half the cost so I thought I’d try it. I think my leaking issues are due to worn out microfiber which also bunches and doesn’t completely fill the pocket, but then I noticed some residue most likely from the Method cream and wondered if I actually had repelling issues too. So I thought I would ask about the Method cream…sorry for all the background for a simple question! Great post though as I have had leaking issues and otherwise love my BG 3.0 which I’ve been using since my now 20 month old was born.


  9. Malina Says:

    Valerie, try just folding your prefolds and flats and sticking them in the wraps without pins or snappi’s. It’s actually easier and you won’t have to worry about poking your little guy. Some simple folds can be found here:



    • ladybuggsmom Says:

      I agree, Malina!!! I do a newspaper fold with my prefolds, and I’ve tried AIOs, pockets, etc, but I LOOOOVE my prefolds! They’re like the workhorse of cloth dipes as far as I’m concerned!!!


  10. Jessica Says:

    Please help! I am brand new to cloth diapers… just got my first stack of Rumparooz last night and immediately started using them. This is my second child, but first in cloth. So I just washed my first 3 dirty diapers (because right now I only have 6 on hand until more come in the mail). Anyways, very first poopy left a stain on the diaper, and both inserts. What am I doing wrong? And I have no clue how many inserts to use. I have the diaper on the small setting with both inserts. It is so huge on my not-quite 5 month old I can hardly snap it shut… too many inserts? Too small a size? I just laid down $300 in cloth diapers… so I am trying to play it cool in front of the hubby like I know what I’m doing and this *IS* a good thing! Please help me pull it off!

    Also, we use a Snuza (easiest to just google it) at night, but with the cloth diaper it just wants to fall off and sound the alarm. Any suggestions?

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR ANY ADVICE! I will continue my research during naptime. But I’ve got a very stained diaper that I need to figure how to clean by 5pm or my husband is going to think I led him down one smelly road. :-)


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      hmmm. well, not sure why stains are a bad thing. the only way you could feasible keep them away constantly would be to use bleach every washing and this is NOT recommended. I hate to be graphic but if an adult had an accident in white underwear everyday then there’d be stains, right?

      “I have the diaper on the small setting with both inserts. It is so huge on my not-quite 5 month old I can hardly snap it shut…” If it’s so big you can’t snap it then yes you have too much bulk. Just use the long insert not the smaller one that snaps on and see how that goes. Also, just b/c your baby is 5 months old doesn’t automatically mean use the small settings. Some babies are really long in the rise. Move to the middle setting and see how that fits.


      • Twylia Says:

        I have found that the sun is awesome for getting stains out. I just check my dipes as they come out of the dryer and if they have stains they go on the line. Usually the stain is gone within a few hours. Some of the more stubborn ones require more time.


    • Cory Says:

      Definitely hang the stained ones in the sun after the wash. It works like magic. I keep all my diapers stain free.


  11. Guggie Says:

    This is a bit random, but if it helps anyone it’s worth it…

    If babies are “letting it all out” in the carseat, it could be a sign that they would benefit from chiropractic care. The angle and pressure of the carseat could be stimulating them to urinate, and especially if they are “holding it” before getting into the carseat, they might really just be unable to urinate freely until they are in the carseat.


  12. valerie Says:

    I’ve been cloth diapering for 10 months now and have pretty much used microfibre inserts with pockets exclusively, except for my lil dabble with flats, and prefolds…which were great when my son didn’t know how to roll and move and crawl away….now i’m too afriad that i might stick him with a pin and he just moves way to fast to get a snappi on him! Anyway most of my microfibre I don’t know the age of since I bought them used and they still work great! They did have some stink issues that was due to issues with my FL washer, but I stripped them and they are good to go and still super absobant!
    If I had been told that microfibre has to be replaced at 1 yr I probably would never have gone that route…thankfully mine still work great!


  13. megan Says:

    when we travel i put my lo in an overnight dipe and a wool cover. this mama isn’t taking any chances.


  14. Katy Sullivan Says:

    Thanks so much for posting this 2 part series on leaking. I posted both parts on my facebook fan page for my fans. http://www.facebook.com/littlemuffinbottoms1

    Thanks again,
    Katy Sullivan


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