What's The Big Deal With Microfiber And Compression Leaks?

Let's talk about microfiber.  It seems to be getting a bad rep these days mostly because of the dreaded compression leak.  So why are parents abandoning a very absorbent cloth diapering fabric in favor or natural textiles? Let's discuss.

What Is A Compression Leak Anyway?

Microfiber Cloth Diapers

Well to cut to the chase, yes compression leaks can happen with microfiber, but what is it in the first place? Microfiber is made from polyester, and when it gets very saturated, it's ability to hold onto liquid decreases.  So if heavily saturated microfiber gets squeezed from say a car seat buckle, tight onesie, twisting of an active moving toddler or pressure from babywearing in a carrier, then liquid can squish out of microfiber causing a leak - a 'compression' leak.

In contrast, natural fabrics (cotton, hemp, bamboo) don't have this same characteristic to the same extent.  Of course they will still leak if they are very full and you wring them out; but not as readily as microfiber. Hemp especially is great at holding onto liquid, even when heavily saturated, regardless of pressure applied which makes it a wonderful booster for added absorbency without bulk. 

Is It Really A Big Deal?
No, it's not.  Microfiber is a very cost effective diapering fabric and does a great job for the cost.  It is less expensive than many natural fabrics and gets the job done just fine. Truth be told, compression leaking can only become an issue when it gets oversaturated and at that point, baby should have been changed already anyway.

What To Do About It

  • First, do make sure that the diapers you purchase are good quality.  Not all microfiber is created equal and you get what you pay for.  Bargain priced diapers will give you bargain performance.
  • Change your baby regularly, every 2-3 hours and possibly more often for newborns.  Roughly correlate your changing with every time baby eats.
  • Make sure baby isn't getting a wedgie from tight onesies as this can make your diaper fit incorrectly and contribute to leaks (regardless of what material your diapers are made from).
  • If you still find yourself with leaks and a very saturated diaper upon changing, double up your inserts or layer with hemp.  A hemp insert underneath a microfiber one can be a game changer for heavy wetters and it's common for older babies to need additional absorbency as they get older in any style of diaper anyway. And if your struggles are largely at nighttime, the secret for that is over here.

So, never fear the microfiber.  It's an excellent cloth diapering choice. 

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