Pocket Diaper Tips & Tricks

Pockets! They are convenient, easy and well-priced diapers, but they can sometimes also be a bit of a premadonna, requiring troubleshooting tips specific just to them (forewarning - I wanted to create an exhaustive list, and 95% of people out there will never even need this information, so don't let it dissuade you from choosing pocket diapers if they are on your radar).

Pockets leaking? Here are some tips to hopefully solve the problem - 

First, most important, start here and please read this first!

Running your pocket or microfiber insert under running water is not an adequate test to confirm whether your pockets are leaking. Synthetic fibers require pressure against them to force the moisture through. Just holding something in your hand will not provide this pressure, and any fully-functioning pocket will appear to repel in this test. If you do suspect that your diapers are repelling, rather, hold the stuffed pocket or insert-only in your hand and fill it with a bit of water. Fold the shell/insert in half, squeeze between your hands, then open the shell/insert. If the water all still appears beaded-up on the surface, then you have a repelling issue. If the water passed through, then it isn't repelling and likely is one of the following scenarios outlined in 1. 2. & 3.

The following three scenarios will help those who have sometimes-functioning pockets. In other words, sometimes your pockets seem just fine and other times they are infuriating. All of the following scenarios assume your pockets are adequately fit through the waist, rise and thighs (if your pockets are too loose or too big you will have leaks - bar none).

1. Squash, Squash Baby

You might be experiencing compression leaks - microfiber can be susceptible to compression leaks. Picture a saturated washcloth sitting on the countertop - it is fine, that is, until someone sets a 2lb weight in the middle of it - now some liquid is being squeezed out.

To Fix: Add in a hemp doubler behind the microfiber. I call microfiber+hemp a match made in heaven. Hemp backs up the microfiber beautifully, picking up anything the microfiber might let go. Or, upgrade your microfiber insert to a natural fiber stuffer like cotton, hemp or bamboo. 


2. Waddle Waddle

Overstuffing – too much stuffing can cause leaks! Yup, sometimes a pocket is so overstuffed you no longer have a snug fit through the leg and waist elastic. Some urine will pass through the wicking layer to the inserts beneath, but there will also be some that manages to travel right out the side of the diaper. 

To Fix: If your current insert combination requires a bunch of stuffers, consider upgrading the fibers. Hemp and bamboo offer more absorbency inch-for-inch than microfiber. Rather than trying to stuff three or more microfiber inserts into a pocket, consider a microfiber insert + hemp flat, or two hemp flats, or a bamboo prefold+hemp doubler, or…. you get the idea.

3. Sprawled Out

Baby sleeping on his side or front? The vast majority of pocket diapers have absorbency bulked up under the bum, but the sides and front of the diaper are sadly lacking. 

To Fix: If baby is consistently sleeping on his side or front you might consider changing out your nighttime diaper to something better suited for his position. Fitteds + covers are a great option, offering 360º of coverage. Another option would be to layer a fleece or wool soaker over the top of your pocket. This acts as a second waterproof layer, ensuring any escaping urine is held in and directed back to where it is meant to be. Prefer to stick with your pockets? Consider the bumGenius 4.0 pocket diaper as your nighttime pocket. It has a row of PUL at the inside of the diaper's front, and this acts as an additional barrier to create a nice wall against baby's skin. 

The above scenarios addressed pockets that show up to work part of the time. Battling Pockets that are not absorbing a darn thing? 

4. Downy and Desitin run amuck? 

Use fabric softener or dryer sheets in your regular laundry (but not with your diapers) or someone got a hold of the conventional rash cream? Chances are there is something built up on the surface of the wicking layer. Until this buildup is removed, nothing will get through that fabric!

To Fix: Check out our information on stripping with Dawn to correct this problem.

5. Fats & Oils & Detergents, oh my!

None of the above seem to be what is going on? The following might just be the solution for you. So often on online forums you'll read about 'detergent buildup' in suedecloth, microfiber and fleece, and people recommend stripping with Dawn, then decreasing the amount of detergent used going forward. From Steve 'the detergent guru' (this information was originally put together by Bummis and is shared with their permission) -  

[Steve] does not believe it is a "detergent" residue that is causing repelling or stink in these synthetics. He believes what is really happening is that consumers are creating a self-filling prophecy by not using enough detergent. This leads to microscopic soil being left behind. In fecal matter there are oils/fats from digestion. Polyester loves fats and oils and forms a chemical bond with them. If you are using too little detergent to release this soil, you will then get a microscopic build up of oils on the surface of the fabric eventually causing it to repel or stink. 

While great at releasing grease on solid surfaces (think dishes) Dawn is not super effective on fabric. Hence it would work with a mild build up of oils (not detergent) causing repelling/stink but not on all cases. Best to avoid oily build up by using enough detergent to release oils from synthetics and enough rinsing to get rid of all detergent/soils