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 The Solution - "Why do my diapers leak"

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Erika Froese

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The Solution - "Why do my diapers leak" Tuesday, February 05, 2013 4:56 PM (permalink)
On every forum one of the most common discussions parents encounter are “my diapers leak”.  They are looking for guidance and advice from fellow parents.  Most of the well intentioned advice says “add another liner/insert for more absorbency” or “you must have build up and therefore water repellency issues”.  This could be true but there is a more prominent reason why diapers and diaper covers fail. 
 
The problem usually,  but not always, is with the diaper cover itself.  The cover has two components that make it function leak free.  One is the obvious Thermoplastic Polyurethane film laminated to the back side of the fabric.  This film creates a water proof barrier and prevents moisture from seeping through the cover fabric.  So long as this film is in tact and not peeling, this is not the problem. 
 
The other component, equally as important, is the Water Repellent applied to the face side of the fabric.  You can’t see or feel it.  No one knows it’s there.
  
in tact water repellent
Here is a short video demonstrating the water beading up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRv_7W8WfsQ  
 
The Water Repellent's job is to prevent moisture from being drawn (wicking) from the absorbent component (diaper itself) through to the outside (face side) of the cover through the stitching on the diaper or cover. This water repellent must be in tact for the cover to be effective.  Water repellents (W/R) have a limited longevity and can vary significantly from brand to brand.  Once a diaper cover, whether attached to the diaper (Pocket, All in One) or worn over top (pre folds, fitted diapering systems or Hybrid/All in Two) shows signs of leakage, an evaluation should be made as to whether the W/R is still effective.   
In this test, we placed water with food colouring on the inside of this Pocket Diaper and observed the colour travel to the face side. W/R is no longer functioning.  Moisture will travel through the stitching to the face side of the cover and is transferred onto clothing and bedding.  36 launderings ago this covers’ W/R beaded up as pictured above and would have prevented the moisture from wicking.
 
If you are experiencing unexplainable leakage, here is a simple at-home test. Flick some tap water onto the fabric surface (face side). If it beads up, your W/R is in tact.  If it sits there for a moment and slowly absorbs, your W/R is marginal and if the droplet is absorbed upon immediate contact, the W/R has expired.  Leakage will be a regular occurrence.  At this point you can add numerous layers of absorbency to your diapering system but if the W/R has expired, it will leak.

 
More in-depth:
If the film and W/R are in tact and you are still experiencing leakage, we now look further to see where the problem may lie. This is somewhat hard to describe, so bare with us and read thoroughly.
When the cover and absorbent component of a pocket diaper or All In One diaper are cut to the same size (as with most products on the market), the addition of liners/inserts to the pocket diaper will make the diaper as a whole, slightly convex.

 


 
Calcium and Magnesium deposits through laundering “plate up” on fibre surfaces and residues from diaper rash creams cause fabric surfaces to become slightly repellent.  As a result, liquid takes a moment to penetrate the fabric.  If the surface is convex, the liquid may roll off before it has time to penetrate.  For more optimal performance a diaper needs to be slightly concave in order to better hold the liquid.
 
 
 
 In order for new parents to better understand their diapering options a cloth diaper 101 page has been added to our site.  It lists the pros and cons of the various diaper systems available on the market.   
http://www.mother-ease.co...s/Cloth%20Diaper%20101
 
So, as you will have learned from this post, if your cover is leaking there is no solution other than to replace your diaper or diaper cover.  If your diaper or cover passes the W/R flick test there is possibility that your problem may lie within the composition of the diaper itself.   We hope you find this information helpful.
 
Erika Froese
Creator of Motherease Diapers  
<message edited by Erika Froese on Thursday, February 07, 2013 3:27 PM>
 
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