Why Your Reusable Nappies Are Leaking (And How To Fix It!)

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Help! Why is my nappy leaking?

We often get asked at Babi Pur why your reusable nappies might be leaking, but we can usually get to the bottom of it!

There are a few reasons why your reusable nappies could be leaking, so let us help you figure it out so you can continue happily on your cloth nappy journey!


First of all if you are new to cloth nappies you will need to prewash them before using for the first time.  All this means is washing your nappies a few times before putting them on your baby.  Manufacturing residues will prevent the nappies from absorbing effectively, and fabrics which contain Bamboo or Hemp may need around 6 washes or more before they become fully absorbent.

Also, if you’re a cloth nappy newbie, it’s worth noting that all nappies will leak when they are full. It is important that you change a nappy regularly or add extra boosters / inserts for extra absorbency.  On average, a Polyester, Microfibre or Minkee cloth nappy should last around 2-3 hours before it needs changing.  An Organic Cotton or Bamboo nappy should last around 3-4 hours.

 Using boosters (especially those made from Bamboo or hemp) will give you more time between nappy changes and bamboo nappies with bamboo boosters will make a super thirsty night time nappy for overnight use. If you are new to cloth and some of these terms are a little confusing, you may want to check out our Guide to Cloth Nappy Jargon.

Don’t forget to prewash your new reusable nappies! Image credit Liz Loh

Fit or absorbency?

If your nappies are leaking, it will usually be down to a problem with either the fit of the nappy or the absorbency.  So let’s start with the fit.  One of the most common reasons for nappies to leak is to do with how it’s been fitted and adjusted. The most popular choice for cloth nappies these days are one-sized nappies which are designed to fit your baby from around 8-35lb.  These nappies need to be adjusted so that they fit your baby as they grows and changes shape.

  • Adjust the nappy to fit snuggly around your baby’s legs and waist (make sure you can fit your finger between the nappy and your baby’s skin)
  • Adjust the nappy so the legs fits first and then the waist
  • Ensure all absorbent parts of the nappy are tucked right in to avoid any wicking (wee leaking onto clothes)
  • Check that your baby’s vest or other clothing  has not tucked into the nappy – this will also cause moisture to wick out
  • Is your baby’s vest too small?  Try a bigger vest as a ‘too small’ vest could be squeezing the moisture out of the nappy. This is more likely to happen with polyester / minkee nappies.
Babipur reusable nappy fit guide – a great place to start if you are experiencing reusable nappy leaks!

Newborn cloth nappy fitting

For some newborn babies using one-size cloth nappies leaks may be an indication that the nappies may be too big. Don’t panic though – they will work as soon as your baby has gained enough weight. While you wait for baby to fill out you could try a smaller nappy designed for newborn babies. Newborn nappies fit until your baby is around 9-12 weeks.

Baba & Boo pocket nappies in one size and newborn options.


If you are happy that the nappies are fitted correctly and you’re still experiencing leaks, the problem is likely to be down to absorbency.  Either there isn’t enough absorbency to hold the wee or there is something preventing the nappy from absorbing liquid.  So, to find out take a good look inside your nappy after it has leaked and check if it is….

Soaking wet or

Mostly dry or wet with obvious dry patches

  • The nappy is soaking wet – then it simply means that the nappy is full and needs changing more often.  If you’ve had less than two hours from that nappy then you should consider boosting it with a bamboo or hemp booster.
  • The nappy is mostly dry or wet with obvious dry patches – and you are happy that it has been fitted snuggly then something could be preventing your nappies from absorbing.  Detergent residue, fabric softeners and nappy creams (especially those containing petroleum) can all clog up your nappies and stop them absorbing properly.  If this is the case, you can un-clog the nappies by giving them a strip-wash (see instructions below). Make sure you don’t use any fabric softener and use a liner to prevent nappy cream from getting on to the nappies. If you aren’t sure about washing cloth nappies you can find our Washing Guide here.

Strip wash

You will find many ways to ‘strip’ your nappies if you ask Mrs Google. Many articles suggest using harsh chemicals,  bleach, vinegar and even dish washing tablets.  Unfortunately many of  these can do more harm than good, and will certainly invalidate your warrantee. Would you really want to lace your nappies in harsh chemicals when they’re going to be hugging your baby’s bum? No, neither would we! Before trying anything extreme, check our Washing Guide first. A simple adjustment to your routine may be all that is needed. Otherwise try a simple wash routine of:

  1. Keeping your washing machine fresh with a monthly clean using Violets Washing Machine Cleaner
  2. Wash your reusable nappies on a cold rinse cycle
  3. Then wash on a long cycle (cotton cycle for 2-3 hours) with a full dose detergent on 60 degrees
  4. Wash again on a long cycle but with no detergent
  5. Final cold rinse and repeat until no more bubbles
Tots Bots reusable nappy. Image credit Kim Pascoe

If you are still struggling to work out why your reusable nappies are leaking get in touch with our fully trained friendly Customer Service team >HERE< and we will do everything we can to help.

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4 Responses

  1. March 27, 2019

    […] Why are my cloth nappies leaking? […]

  2. May 2, 2019

    […] be beneficial. You could also include a fit guide in the change bag – click >here< for a great example you can print out. Alternatively there are some great videos on […]

  3. March 29, 2021

    […] I started off slowly and used them around the house. Actually, the first time I used one, I fitted it so badly that my daughter was soaking. […]

  4. March 29, 2021

    […] You will find many people advising all kinds of methods to ‘strip wash’ nappies. We believe this shouldn’t be necessary if you start out with a good washing routine. Simply leaving your nappies on the washing line works wonders, without risking damage to your precious nappies. If you do want to find out more we have a simple guide on the ‘Why are my nappies leaking’ blog >HERE<. […]

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