Troubleshooting Leaky Cloth Diapers

by Bailey Bouwman

Leaks happen. It's part of the diapering story whether you choose cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Something, at some point, is bound to leak.  

Just because leaks happen doesn't mean thats your life. We want you to cloth diaper leak-free and that's why we've made Nuggles Diapers they way they are: to combat leaks.

If you're frustrated with leaky cloth diapers, try these trouble shooting tips:


1. Let's Check Out the Absorbency. 

What part of the diaper is wet and what part of the diaper isn't wet? You can tell if an insert is wet or not because it should be a slightly different colour - tends to get darker or wet-looking - or you can feel to tell. 

We want to know if the diaper is leaking because the insert is drenched and maybe needs MORE absorbency, or if it's half dry and it's maybe a fit or function issue. 

  • If only half the insert is wet, go to step two. 
  • If the entire insert is wet, try step three (but don't pass by step 2, because fit is important once you get the absorbency right).

A few things to keep in mind:

  • cloth diapers are recommended to be changed every 2 hours. For more informationwhen to change a diaper check out this post. 
  • night time cloth diaper can last 8-10 hours depending on the child and diaper. 
  • brand new cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent, but reach peak absorbency after 6-8 washes. 

2. Let's Check Out the Fit

Getting the perfect fit is a learning curve but one that is easily mastered. 

A few things to check:

  • Are the leg elastics providing a gentle, but secure seal against the inside crease of baby's leg?
  • Is the waist laying flat and smooth across baby's belly? These should not be so tight it looks over stretched but not too loose that it falls down. Find a happy just right. 
  • Is the rise setting adjusted to hold the absorbency close to baby's body? Use the rise setting to reduce any gaps in the legs and to provide the best possible fit. 

How to get a good fit with the Nuggles Simplee

These strategies can be used with all of other diapers as well. Be sure to do the Taco-fold to get the leg elastics into the leg creases. 

3. Maybe you need more absorbency?!

  • If you're only using one insert inthe Nuggles Simplee then it's time to use both of them. 
  • If you're only usingthe Bittees, it might be time to add a booster or folded up cloth for a little extra something. 
  • If you're usingthe Nuggles BambooLUXE Fitted, it's time for the Night time Booster. 
  • Prefoldsleaking and maxed out? Might be time to size up to a bigger size of the 3 ply version, or add a booster to make it 2 hours or through the night. 

 A good question to keep in mind before upgrading to a different insert is to ask, "did this just happen once, or has this been a regular thing?" 

One time leaks can be a coincidence or accident, or a day of chugging water. 

Regular leaks with fully saturated inserts suggest something NEEDS to change. 

Do expect changes in absorbency as your child grows and learns to hold their bladders. 

We see common fluctuations around 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 10 months, and again in toddlerhood around 18-20 months.

Start with one insert and add more as you need. 

You might even play around with how frequently you change the diaper. It can sometimes be a better choice to change diapers after every pee, or after 60-90 minutes instead of upgrading to a more expensive, and more absorbent product. 

4. Lastly, Repelling & Other Wash Routine Issues.

One of the least common leaky diaper concerns is repelling issues. 

Repelling is when the absorbent part of the diaper just refuses to absorb liquid. This can sometimes happen to the lining of pocket diapers as well. 


Common reasons for repelling include using fabric softeners, petroleum based diaper creams, and poor wash routines leading to long term build up (this is a very last resort and something we've never encountered within our cloth diaper experience) 

If petroleum based diaper creams were used, the best strategy is to grab an old tooth brush, a touch of Dawn detergent (or try other detergents) and get scrubbing in the sink. You'll see where the diaper cream sticks to the diaper and is causing issues. This is common in pocket diapers. 

To combat potential detergent buildup, perform a series of rinses with warm to hot water to try and strip the diapers.

If you have hard water or mineral build up, extra rinsing can be counter-productive, so try adding a water softener to your wash routine.


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