Why Are My Cloth Nappies Leaking?

Reusable cloth nappies are becoming increasingly popular and parents are ditching disposable nappies in favour of cloth nappies. Disposable nappies were actually only invented in the late-1940s and were not really commonplace, at least in the UK, until the 1960s and beyond.

Back then, disposable nappies were considered expensive and wasteful. However, washing machines were still considered a luxury and nappies would need to be washed by hand and hung out to dry outside. Traditional cloth nappies were not as innovative as they are today. They required safety pins to close them and waterproof plastic/rubber pants over the top!

Image shows a Roam reusable cloth nappy in Redwood. The pattern of the nappy has a rust background and white abstract linear pattern. The photo is taken close-up on the lower half of a white baby.
Modern cloth nappies are much more straightforward to use and are not the hardship that naysayers might lead you to believe they are. As much as times have changed and design has improved, issues with cloth nappies do arise. But who hasn't had an ill-timed blow out when using disposable nappies?!

Cloth Nappies Leaking?

Nobody likes a leaky nappy.

Many people find cloth nappies a breeze and won’t run into issues, but all babies are different. Leaks can be very off-putting but are often due to simple user error and it's just a case of troubleshooting a few key points. It's usually a quick fix to stop your cloth nappies leaking! So, what can you do to prevent cloth nappy leaks?

Roam recommends these checks as the first point in dealing with cloth nappy leaks:

Cloth Nappy Fit
Two fingers between the tummy and the front of the nappy should be sufficient for comfort and movement. Too big a gap will lead to leaks and too tight will be uncomfortable for baby. Check for gaping at the back of the nappy and that elastics are snug into the leg creases and laid flat.

Absorbency
Can you boost the nappy with more absorbent inserts? Was the cloth nappy worn for too long? Do your cloth nappy inserts contain microfibre? (Microfibre can cause compression leaks.)

New Cloth Nappies
All reusable nappies will benefit from pre-washing to optimise the absorbency of the inserts, more so if they are natural materials (Roam inserts are 100% bamboo terry). Waterproof covers and wraps don’t require multiple washes, but inserts and boosters ideally need a few rounds in the machine — you don’t need to dry in between and they can go in with household laundry.

Washing Nappies
If your nappies are pre-loved or well-used, have been washed with fabric softener or used with nappy rash creams, then build up could be causing leaks. In this case, a strip wash may help fix leak issues with your reusable nappies.

What's A Cloth Nappy Strip Wash?

A strip wash is where cloth nappies are given a more intensive machine wash by running a usual rinse and main wash on the longest setting (usually a cotton cycle) with detergent, then another main cycle, preferably at 60°c, without detergent and finally, another rinse cycle. If you see any detergent bubbles in the last rinse cycle, keep on rinsing until you don't see any more.
A strip wash on cloth nappies shouldn't be done regularly as it will shorten their lifespan.

If you are experiencing a leak problem regularly, something else may be amiss. Please get in touch with us here if you need advice or guidance on reusable cloth nappies, we'd love to help!
Image shows a Roam reusable cloth nappy in Bixby - an earthy but colourful abstract pattern with organic shapes on alight background - hung over a beech wood clothes horse.