Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cloth Diaper Tutorial 1

This post will not be useful for everyone, but I've had a few requests for this tutorial and I hope that by putting it out there on the web it will be useful to some of my readers, old and new.

How to Re-Waterproof PUL on Pocket Diapers

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? After buying about 18 diapers in poor condition that leaked after only a few uses (I was so ignorant in those days!), I was determined to find a way to refurbish them. I could only find vague references to how to waterproof the PUL again, so after some trial and error (i.e. - 1 failed diaper and 17 successes), I am posting my method here in hopes that someone else can benefit. The spray is in an orange can labeled "Silicone Water Guard" and you can find it in the camping section at Wal-mart. It cost about $4 a can as of 2009. This can lasted for 1 pail liner (required a TON of spray) and 18 diapers. Not too bad really.

For the record, I have used this method on Fuzzi Bunz sized diapers and Swaddlebees Econappis. These two brands are my very favorite because they are easily repaired, both with the waterproof spray and by replacing the leg elastic.

Trace a pattern for your diaper on lightweight cardboard - cereal boxes work great! Turn diaper inside-out.

Stuff the cardboard in the diaper. Watch the sides - keep fleece underneath the cardboard, PUL on top. Find your waterproofing spray - available at Wal-mart in the camping/sporting goods section.

Go outside on a sunny day. Lay out a sheet of wax paper underneath each diaper. Spray a light coating on all PUL surfaces.

Let the coating sit for just a minute, then tip the diapers on their sides to allow any excess spray to run off the side into the grass. Fold your wax paper in half (keeping any excess spray on the inside) and lay the diaper on top to dry.

After a couple of hours, when the spray seems to be dry, remove the cardboard and hang the diapers outside to dry a little longer. Allow them to dry for at least 24 hours before washing or using them.

Turn your diaper right side out again and you should have a nicely re-waterproofed diaper!

Some FAQ's -
Q - What is PUL?
A - Polyurethane Laminate Wiki

Q - How do you know when the PUL needs re-waterproofing?
A - It's most obvious when you can see visible cracking in the PUL. Before trying the spray, I try running them through the dryer on high heat to reseal the PUL. This has worked with my newer diapers just fine. With the diapers that needed the spray, the wet was going right through the center, not just the edges around the legs. Other diapers that have leaked around the legs were just in need of stripping or needed changing sooner.

Q - Do I need to hang them outside to dry?
A - No, but they tend to be "fumey" for a few hours, so I recommend it. If you hang them indoors, use a well-ventilated room. Sometimes I hung them in the basement to dry.

Q - Do they drip after you hang them?
A - No, they shouldn't drip at all while hanging - they only seem to drip when you first spray them if it puddles up a bit - that's why I let the excess run off.

Q - Do I need to wash them before using them?
A - I don't think you really NEED to wash them before using them, though I prefer to do it. (The fleece doesn't come into contact with the spray at all.) If you have a baby with eczema, sensitive skin, or prone to diaper rash, I would just in case.

Other Cloth Diaper Tutorials -
How to sew microfiber inserts for pocket diapers

How to replace leg elastic
How to sew a waterproof pail liner

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  1. Will this process work with PUL covers too - like Flips or Thirsties? Do I just need to make sure that they air out plenty and wash them before putting near baby's bum?

    1. Gretchen - I have not tried it with PUL covers... with my Thirsties, the PUL far outlasted the elastic and the velcro. :) I would think it would work just as well though. And yes, I'd just give them a wash first.

  2. This is an awesome idea although the chemicals in the waterproofing spray concern me. Commercial PUL and TPU applications have been proven safe for babies over many years. While I love the resourcefulness and frugality of this post, I would be remiss if I didn't at least ask if there is a chance the chemicals in the spray could possibly get into the baby through the skin even after washing. Have you gotten any feedback from others who have tried it?

  3. I'm about to try this...just bought the spray and made my cardboard inserts... and was curious about how long this waterproofing lasted for you? Also,how often do you wash your diapers? We've had a terrible time with diaper rash infections (in spite of frequent changes,and the only thing keeping them at bay was a small amount of bleach,long soak and the sanitize dryer cycle. I realize this has affected the PUL though...was just curious how long I should plan on the spray lasting before a repurchase. :)

  4. Sherah, I'm interested how long it lasted for you.

  5. I'm curious how long it lasted too! Any updates?

  6. thanks for posting this. i bought a used stash of cloth diapers. and the lining is completely gone on 80% of the diapers. i really thought i was getting a good deal. now i'm really disgusted at myself for not realizing this at purchase and at the person who sold them and chose not to disclose this problem. i'm going to try this fix. Thank you!

  7. How long does the spray last?
    In my experience, the waterproofing will last through the rest of the life of the diaper. Even cloth diapers need to be thrown out eventually. I will replace the elastic once, and it seems when the elastic wears out a second time, it always seems like the material on the casing starts getting holes in it. At that point, I throw them out. I have never had to use the waterproof spray a second time. My diapers typically last through 2 children this way.

  8. Dear author, I was so excited to be given the link to your page and the work you've done. I bought the spray and went immediately to work on my own, this time trying on Thirstiest covers. To my confusion the covers were still leaking. I tried several more times, each time making sure to follow your instructions to the letter. Unfortunately I still have leaky covers. Am I missing something and have you had better success with a different method? Sincerely, A Frustrated Mamma

  9. Sarah, I'm am sorry your are frustrated. I have never used this method on covers, so I do not know what the problem might be, especially not knowing their current state. Are they leaking through the legs? Loose elastic? It is hard, but there comes a time when even cloth diapers just have to be thrown out. Sorry this didn't work for you.

  10. I have used 30 Famicheer pocket diapers for my daughter who is now a year and a half since she was born. They are now starting to leak. I will try this ASAP as it is very frustrating. I guess she gonna be potty trained soon anyway :)

  11. Hi Church Mouse, thanks so much for your helpful post and pictures! I'm working on my Bum Genius 4.0's.... used them for three years on my boy, and now hoping to use them again. I took the covers and turned them inside out, like you did in your pictures, and sprayed on the colored side of the inside. I'm worried about getting the spray on the white part, which needs to wick moisture by definition. Is that why you use the cardboard insert? Thanks so much! Miriam

  12. Hi there, I had a few goes with repairing my bumgeniuses. They were waterproof after 2 layers of spray but when I put them through the wash, it seemed like the spray all washed off and the pul were all cracked and not watwrproof just like before! :( i waited over 24 hrs and they definitely felt dry. Any advice? Thanks!

  13. How long does this lasts as in How many washes? What is your was routine? Do u use hot water with no problems? Thanks :)

  14. Can PUL be ruined by washing on 90° a few times? I cant see any damage but I've got leaking.


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