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How to stop reusable nappies leaking - A complete guide

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

You're all excited about your reusable journey, your little one looks so cute in that print, BUT then the nappy leaks. That's enough to dampen anyone's enthusiasm. People start telling you that's because cloth nappies leak more than disposables and you start to doubt yourself. Never fear! Yes, reusable nappies can leak but so can disposables. The good news is that leaking reusables is normally easily resolved with a little troubleshooting, and will be just as reliable (if not more) than any disposable. Read on to see how to see what could be causing an issue for you...

Cosy and Fair reusable cloth nappy
Meadow Cloth Nappy Print - Cosy & Fair

The most common reasons your reusable is leaking...

The Fit

"The fit" just means how the nappy has been put on. 90% of reusable nappy leaks are caused by an issue with the fit.

If using onesize nappies, have you selected the right rise poppers for the size of your baby? If not, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing everything else right, it still won’t fit properly!

Lift up your baby’s legs, one at a time, when they’re lying on their back, is there any gaping around the legs? If so, this is a guaranteed cause of leaks. Gaping could mean your baby is still a little too small for the nappy, or you haven’t done up the legs tight enough.

Review our “Fit Guide” to check that you have all aspects of fit covered.

Not enough absorbency

The second most likely cause is that your nappy just isn't absorbent enough. When you take the nappy off, if the inserts are soaking wet, then lack of absorbency is your issue. This can be resolved by adding more absorbency (i.e. an extra insert) or change the type of inserts you are using to more absorbent ones.

Other reasons...

Are you changing frequently enough

How long do reusable nappies actually last for? On average reusables should be changed every 2-3 hours. If you’re trying to extend it beyond this then you’ll likely end up with a leak! It is possible to extend this time by adding extra absorbency if needed

Material sticking out

Is there any material sticking out? Inserts, liners etc should all be within the nappy, otherwise moisture will wick out of them onto clothes. Check the front, back and round the legs to make sure it’s all contained.

Compression nappy leaks

Does it happen when in the car seat or baby carrier? This can often be caused by compression leaks, a common culprit is microfibre inserts. So you may need to change to a different type of insert. As a side note, none of our inserts contain microfibre for this reason.

Folded liners

Folding disposable or reusable liners, can mean that the pee leaks out of the nappy before it manages to get through the liner. Make sure liners are unfolded, and if they’re too big, you can always cut them down to size.

Tight-fitting clothes

A less common reason, but sometimes if baby is wearing the likes of tights, or their vest is sitting too tight, then this can cause a pressure leak. Vest extenders can be helpful, or buy vests a size up to allow for the slightly bulkier nappy, without squeezing out it’s contents! Again, this is an issue more often seen with microfibre inserts.

Did you prewash your nappies?

Nappies need prewashed 3 times before first use, as just like a new towel, they need a few goes in the washing machine to become sufficiently absorbent. Using them without pre-washing can mean they don’t absorb as well as they should, which in turn causes leaks

Barrier Creams

Barrier creams are not your friend with cloth nappies! This is because, just like they form a barrier on your baby’s skin against moisture, they do they same to cloth nappies. Rubbed off nappy cream forms a barrier which doesn’t allow liquid to pass through into the nappy, meaning it comes out the sides instead!


When a child reaches toddlerhood, they pee less frequently, but there is much more pee in one go than before. An insert that includes cotton can be helpful here, as it’s a fast absorber, meaning the pee gets absorbed in time before it leaks out of the nappy.


Reusable nappies can only hold so many inserts before they start to lose their shape, which prevents them forming that all important “Fit”. This results in gaping which allows liquid to escape. Often leading to leaking around the legs.

We hope this helps you if you are having issues and as always welcome you to contact us if you need any more information (

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