The “FASTER” Method for Debugging Cloth Diaper Leaks

February 12, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Cloth Diapering

Leaking is one of the most common challenges we face while cloth diapering. Leaks can occur for a number of different reasons and in order to solve the issue, you first need to pinpoint the exact reason for the leak. Here I am going to show you my “FASTER” checklist to debug cloth diaper leaks (pardon the techie term, old habits die hard 🙂 )


Fit – Fit is the very first thing you should look at. Make sure that you are using the right size, rise setting and waist / hip adjustments for your baby. The diaper should fit snugly around the waist and thighs without any gaps, but with enough leeway for a finger. If the diaper is too loose, pee would just leak out through the gaps between skin and diaper. However this doesn’t mean that you go ahead and snap on the diaper as tightly as possible. Not only will this be uncomfortable for the baby, but can again cause compression leaks which basically means that the pressure on the inserts (from baby’s weight / clothes / seat buckle etc.) is causing the absorbed pee in the inserts to be squeezed out.

Confused? Here is a great guide on getting a good fit for different CDs.


Absorbency – Are you inserts fully prepped? Natural fiber inserts require 4-5 washes before use and reach full absorbency only after around 10 washes.

Are your inserts getting saturated? If the inserts are completely sopping wet when you are changing the diaper, this means that you need to change more often. If you have a heavy wetter or need to use the diaper for longer stretches (say at night time), then consider adding additional absorbent layers or boosters.

A word of caution here. When I started out CDing, I fell into the trap of thinking that the more inserts I stuff into the diaper, the more absorbent it would be and the longer I can keep it on. In fact the truth is that over-stuffing can again lead to compression leaks due to increased pressure on the inserts. Instead if you need more absorbency, try changing the material of the insert itself for a more thirsty material.



Stuffing of Insert – Have you stuffed the inserts properly or do they seem to be bunching in the middle? Are the inserts too narrow or too small for the pocket opening? The insert should lie flat in the pocket and fit edge to edge. My pocket diapers were leaking for some time and I couldn’t understand why, until I realized that the organic cotton inserts had shrunk in comparison to the pocket opening, causing a non-absorbent gap around the thighs. 

Further if you have a boy, you will need to stuff the inserts such that there is more absorbency towards the front, whereas a girl will require more absorbency at the back of the diaper.

Type of Sleeper – Do you have a tummy sleeper like I do? If your baby is waking up with a wet tummy, you will need to add more absorbency towards the front of the diaper for nighttime and naps.

Is yours a side sleeper? If your diapers are leaking out the sides, consider switching to fitteds which provide absorbency all over the diaper and not just in the center.


Elastics – Elastics can break down due to excessive sunning or excessively hot water. Even if you are careful, elastics may eventually relax a bit with prolonged use. If you find the diaper is no longer snug where it used to be, you may need to repair its elastics. Elastic repair kits are available for some brands of diapers, or if you good with sewing, you will find several self-help tutorials on Youtube as well.


Repelling – Are your diapers leaking even though the fit is fine and inserts seem to be dry? Then repelling could be the culprit. This means that the inserts are not absorbing the pee, but allowing it collect on top. This could happen for a few reasons:

  • Diaper has been in contact with non-CD-safe diaper rash cream
  • Diaper has been washed with non-CD-safe detergent or fabric softener resulting in detergent build-up
  • Water available for washing is hard water resulting in mineral build-up

To fix the issue, you may need to run the diaper through several hot washes, or in worse case scenario you may need to strip the diaper.


This list is based on my experience alone and may not be exhaustive. However I find that if there is a leak and I run through this checklist, I am usually able to identify the cause. So I hope this “FASTER” method helps you as well. If you have any specific queries or leak issues, feel free to message me on Facebook and I’ll try to help you out. Good luck!

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