How do you know if your cloth diaper is delaminated? Is there a way to tell if the PUL or the TPU has been compromised or if that's the cause of your diaper leaks?
Yes, it's easy to tell the condition of the waterproof layer. Here's how to check your diapers...
Turn your diaper inside out so you can see the back of the outer cover part. This will be easy to do with pocket diapers, diaper covers or some all-in-twos. For some other all-in-twos or some styles of all-in-ones it may not be possible to see the backing of the outer layer, however in these situations you'd be able to make a very good educated guess if you were getting obvious and excessive leaking directly from the middle of the bum area (not around a leg or waist only).
When you examine the PUL/TPU, see if it looks like the lamination is peeling away from the polyester outer fabric or if there are obvious tears or cuts. If you see those things, your waterproof layer may be compromised. Here's a video example of a damaged diaper
Can delaminated cloth diapers be fixed?
If your cloth diaper looks like the one in the video above is there any way it can be repaired? No. Cloth diapers that are delaminated cannot be fixed. Ironing will not work, putting them in the dryer on high will not work. If this has happened to your diaper, it's time to recycle it (fabric recyclers do exist) or perhaps repurpose it as a swim diaper for home kiddie pool use or at the lake. Note: a delaminated diaper should not be used as a swim diaper at a public pool or splash pad. For that, use a diaper specifically designed as a swim diaper.
What causes cloth diaper delamination?
A few thing can cause delamination. First let's note that it's not common especially on higher quality diapers. If there was a problem during the manufacturing of the PUL or TPU you will see it delaminate within the first few washes. It will happen quickly and obviously and will be covered by warranty for most brands.
If it hasn't happened within the first few washes, other causes of delamination are:
- Use of harsh cleaners or excessive soaking with bleach or other laundry additives. Note: we're talking here not about stripping your diapers once in a while or adding a small amount of bleach occasionally, we're talking about a long timefame of soaking or routine soaking.
- Snags or cuts from laundering diapers with sharp items like buckles and zippers or from a sharp surface within the washing machine or dryer.
- When a cloth diaper has reached the end of it's usable lifespan 200+ washes; this depends largely on the quality of the fabric.
- Washing in unnecessarily hot/scalding water, using the sanitize cycle on your machine or drying in high heat in the dryer.
In the end, don't stress about delamination, again, it's fairly rare. Follow the washing instructions from the manufacturer of the diapers you have and enjoy them wash after wash.