From the time that I started cloth diapering over four years ago I have heard rumors that you can fix delaminated cloth diapers in the dryer. The theory is that the heat from the dryer can reseal the laminate in PUL, but is this true? Can a delaminated diaper be repaired with heat?
Let’s put that theory to the test, shall we?
What is PUL?
To understand how and why delamination may occur, it is important to know what PUL is. It stands for Polyurethane Laminate and is used to create waterproof fabrics such as cloth diapers, wet bags, cloth menstrual pads, and mattress protectors.
This fabric is made by fusing fabric with a polyurethane film by hot melt or solvent lamination. Solvent lamination fuses the fabric and polyurethane film into a single fabric. Hot melt adheres the two fabrics together by using heat-activated glue.
What does delaminated mean?
First, we should discuss what delaminated means. When a cloth diaper is delaminated it means that the inner waterproof barrier or laminate of the fabric begins to pull away from the fabric itself.
How can you tell if a cloth diaper is delaminated?
In case you’ve ever wondered what cloth diaper delamination looks like, it’s unmistakable when you finally see it. When a cloth diaper begins to delaminate you will start to see bubbling and you will be able to pull the inner laminate away from the outer fabric of the cloth diaper.
A diaper with secure lamination will look smooth and free of bubbling and holes and you will not be able to pull the two layers away from each other. Be aware, though, that there are some brands that use PUL with a snakeskin-like appearance. This is normal and doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the diaper.
I went through much of my cloth diapering life without experiencing delamination until fairly recently. I started to notice that the PUL on one of my beloved KangaCare wet bags and an old SoftBums Omni was starting to separate.
Note: this is not to say that either of these products is prone to delamination. There could have been a problem with this batch of fabric during manufacturing or it could have been user error. Five years later, I still use a KangarCare wetbag every day for my reusable pads and my other SoftBums diapers remained perfect while we were still cloth diapering our son.
Can you fix a delaminated diaper in the dryer?
For this experiment, I put the wet bag and the diaper in the dryer on high heat for 45 minutes to see if I could reseal the PUL. Did it work?
I am sorry to say that there wasn't any change at all to the PUL after putting the delaminated cloth diaper and wet bag in the dryer. In a home environment, there is simply no way to repair a cloth diaper that has been delaminated.
Can you repair PUL?
Sadly, no. You cannot repair PUL unless you have access to manufacturing equipment, if at all.
While you may not be able to repair your cloth diaper, all is not lost! You can still use a delaminated diaper or wet bag until the PUL develops holes. It will still be waterproof but it will be on borrowed time so check it frequently.
Once the PUL develops a hole, you can still use the diaper as a swim diaper. If you have a delaminated wet bag, use it to store toys or other items that aren't wet or soiled.
This post was originally published on April 9, 2015 and has been updated.