What Do Delaminated Cloth Diapers Look Like?

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Do you have a cloth diaper that is leaking for what seems like no reason? You’ve done all of your troubleshooting and are using it correctly and have a good wash routine, but this one diaper won’t stop leaking. One possibility for your troubles could be that you have delaminated cloth diapers

What is a delaminated cloth diaper?

Delamination means that the polyurethane laminate (PUL) or waterproof layer of your cloth diaper is coming away from the fabric. When this happens, eventually, your diaper will no longer function normally, which means that you will begin to have leaks. That is no bueno for a diaper.  

However, the beginning of delamination isn’t the end of the world in the short term. You can still use the diaper as long as you don’t have any holes, or the lamination isn’t peeling away, but know that your diaper is on borrowed time. 

What does normal PUL look like?

PUL is a layer of polyurethane film over the inside of the diaper fabric. Most normal PUL looks like a smooth and shiny layer over the material, as this diaper:

What does cloth diaper delamination look like? Normal PUL #clothdiapers

Some diaper brands that use a brand of PUL that has a wrinkled appearance, almost like snakeskin. This is also normal and doesn’t mean that your diaper is about to delaminate. If you run your finger over the fabric, you won’t see any bubbling. Some of the brands that use this kind of PUL include AppleCheeks and bumGenius.

What does cloth diaper delamination look like? Normal "snakeskin" PUL #clothdiapers

This diaper is in the early stages of delamination. As you can see, unlike with the “snakeskin” example above, there are some small ripples, and the lining is starting to pull away from the fabric. If you run your finger over it, unlike with snakeskin PUL, you will see and feel that these areas feel more like small bubbles.

What does cloth diaper delamination look like? Early delamination #clothdiapers

An even better example of PUL delamination is in this wet bag. It has moderate delamination. I say moderate because there aren’t any tears or holes, so I can still use it without leaks, but you’ll have to be careful. If you run your fingers across it, you can see that there are large bubbles where the lining has pulled away from the fabric. At this stage, you have to be careful not to puncture the bubbles or leaks will occur. 

What does cloth diaper delamination look like? Moderate delamination #clothdiapers

The bad news:

Once your diaper starts to delaminate, it’s only a matter of time. There isn’t anything you can do to stop or repair a cloth diaper with PUL delamination. There was once a theory that you could fix delaminated cloth diapers in the dryer, but it was just that. A theory that doesn’t check out. Once a diaper’s PUL starts to crack, peel, or get holes, then you can no longer use it for its intended purpose. 

The good news:

Don’t throw your delaminated diapers away because you can use them for swim diapers! Since swim diapers shouldn’t be absorbent and are for catching solid waste, delaminated cloth diapers are perfect for repurposing as swim diapers. 

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4 Comments

  1. Laura Nicholls says:

    I’m so glad to have come across this article! Ive been using cloth nappies for 18 months and my son is now almost 2. Pretty much every nappy is saturated, right through to his clothes! Sometimes he only has the nappy on for an hour or less. I was worried the PUL in the nappies were compromised, as some do have that snake skin like appearance, like you mentioned on the article, and this has put my mind at ease that my nappies aren’t ruined, and I just have a super soaker son! 🙂

  2. Just from crafting knowledge, I’d think the dryer alone wouldn’t cut it– you’d need the pressure alongside the heat to get them fused together. That said, I DO wonder if supplying both could fix it, or if the plastic-y part is just too worn to bond again.

  3. i heard that there is a chance you could rescue it by putting it in THE Dryer. The heat will melt the pull back together. Can’t be done continuously but once or twice ?

    1. I think that’s more of a wive’s tale as I have known of people on CD groups who have tried it without success. I may try it with my wet bag to either support or disprove this theory 🙂

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