Delaminated Diapers vs. NeverWet

I’m on a mission to find a cure for delaminated cloth diapers. So far, it’s the only cloth diaper problem that I don’t have any answer for. Elastic can be replaced, worn out hook & look closures can be converted to snaps, and repelling can be fixed with a few extra loads of laundry. But delamination continues to confound me.

“Turn it into a swim diaper,” they say. (I say it too, of course.) And that’s a nice way of looking on the bright side of things, but when you already have one or two swim diapers, you just want a magic fix that will re-laminate the diaper so it can be used like you’ve always used it.

My first set of delamination experiments involved a hot dryer, a steamer, and an iron. When those methods didn’t produce results, I tried various stick-on and iron-on waterproof patches. Some of those worked in the short run, but after several trips through my washing machine, none of them would stay on.

I had also intended to try a spray-on product called Kiwi Camp dry that I had found in my garage. However, when I read the following warning on the back of the can, I panicked and promptly tossed it in the trash:

Kiwi Camp Dry Causes Cancer

One of my readers expressed disappointment that I hadn’t at least tried the spray-on product, just to see if it worked or not. By then it had long since been hauled off in the trash, but I posed a question on the Diaper Wrecker Facebook page to see if others thought I was overreacting to the warning label.

The responses were varied, but all of them respectfully worded. Some people said it wasn’t worth it and wouldn’t use a product like that near their baby’s skin; after all, chemical avoidance is one of the main reasons they chose to use cloth diapers. Others had some interesting insights on the “may cause cancer” warning labels that I hadn’t ever considered, saying they’d seen them on products like sunglasses and Ikea furniture and that California requires that label to be on some really strange things. Another person reflected that the PUL could contain potentially cancer-causing chemicals as well – how do we know what goes into the lamination process in the first place? (I have no answer for that one – I’d love to know, too!)

After considering the pros and cons, I decided that I would try an experiment using a waterproof spray to satisfy my curiosity; I just wouldn’t use it on my son. I own a cloth diaper store, so it’s not exactly difficult or wildly expensive for me to replace a few delaminated diapers.

Enter NeverWet, a product that’s been generating a lot of buzz about this summer. I mean, just watch their promotional video and you’ll see why I was totally convinced that if anything could cure a delaminated diaper, NeverWet could.

I found it at my local Home Depot near the paint supplies and choked a little when I saw the price tag – $20 for the two-can system.

NeverWet

I didn’t read the label fully until I got home. Dude. This one has an even scarier warning label than the other kind!

NeverWet Warning Label

After reading this, I debated with myself a little more, but finally decided to go ahead and see if it worked. Even if it did work, I wouldn’t feel comfortable using it on my child’s diapers, but some people might like to know about it.

Of course, the “if it works, should I use it?” debate turned out to be moot. Long story short, NeverWet did work to waterproof a delaminated cloth diaper (at first), but after four trips through my washing machine, the diapers have returned to their former pathetic, delaminated state.

Diaper Coated with NeverWet after Four Washes

Since I sunk $20 into this experiment, I’m definitely hanging on to my NeverWet – after all, there are some pretty fascinating uses for this stuff that don’t involve close contact with it like on clothing. I’m thinking of coating my Potty Pail – I mean, did you see the part in the video where they coat the toilet brush?! (Jump to 1:08). Pretty slick; no pun intended.

…..

Ok, maybe I did intend that pun.

Delaminating Diapers – Can They Be Salvaged? (Part 2)

In spite of my earlier failed attempts to restore a delaminated pocket diaper to its former glory, I was still hopeful that I could come up with a solution to this problem. It’s frustrating if you have a diaper that is otherwise functioning well except for, oh, the waterproof part.

As I mentioned before, you can spot delamination by examining the shiny inside of a diaper cover or pocket diaper. Cracking or bubbling indicates that the laminate is degrading. You’ll see in the photos below that I took a wet sponge, inserted it in the pocket opening of a delaminating bumGenius 4.0, and set a kettlebell on it to simulate the pressure of a baby’s weight on a wet insert. When I removed the weight, the back of the diaper was totally saturated.

Delaminated Cloth Diaper

A quick trip to Joann’s Fabrics was encouraging – I found a few types of patches that seemed like they had potential for cloth diaper repair. In addition, while I was re-organizing some cleaning supplies at home, I came across a can of spray-on water repellent. Score! I assembled a team of delaminated bumGenius 4.0s so that all of my delamination experiments would be performed on essentially the same cloth diaper.

Possible Delamination Repair Products
From L-R: Kiwi Camp Dry silicone spray ($5.79), Dritz nylon patches ($4.49), Singer fabric bandages ($1.99), and Dritz iron-on mending fabric ($3.99).

So I get down to the task of testing each of these options out, starting with the spray-on silicone stuff. I’m perusing the back of the can to figure out the best way to apply it and how long it should dry, when all of a sudden I notice the little warning that, oh, you know, well, this product contains a chemical known to cause cancer. (Someone really should notify the other 49 states about this, because apparently only California knows about it so far.)

Kiwi Camp Dry Causes Cancer

Obviously that’s as far as that experiment went.

Next I applied the three patches. The first two were the stick-on type, one nylon and one plastic. The nylon patch was much easier to apply than the plastic patch, and it also seemed more flexible – kind of like the difference between fabric and plastic Band-Aids. The third patch was an iron-on, which made me nervous considering how I’d recently ruined a delaminated diaper by ironing it. However, I was careful in ironing on the patch and did not allow the iron touch the exposed PUL. I was pleased with how easily I was able to apply the iron-on patch.

Patches for Cloth Diapers

Of course, none of this means anything if the patch doesn’t wash/dry well, so I threw these three diapers in a hot wash with a tiny bit of detergent.

The nylon patch made it through okay, although a couple of corners were beginning to turn up on the patches. I doubt that it will hold up well through repeated washes and the stuffing/unstuffing of inserts.

Nylon patches after washing

The plastic patch peeled off completely in the washing machine. Fail.

Fabric Bandage after washing

And surprisingly, the iron-on patch came through looking great. (There were a couple of loose spots that I hadn’t ironed well enough to begin with, but I re-ironed them after taking this photo.) This diaper is going back into my rotation and I’ll let you know it holds up long enough and well to justify spending money on the patch. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you want to hear how it goes!

Iron-on patch after washing

Delaminating Diapers – Can They Be Salvaged? (Part 1)

If you’ve ever noticed your cloth diapers leaking right through the outside, you may have a delamination problem. Most modern cloth diapers are made waterproof through the use of a material called PUL – polyurethane laminate (read more about it here). Think of it like a thin, flexible plastic coating on the fabric. Unfortunately, the PUL will eventually degrade over time, and you can accidentally hasten the delamination process by using caustic products or excessive heat.

If you have a delaminating diaper, you’ll notice leaking directly through the fabric. On the inside, you’ll see cracking or bubbling.

Delaminated diaper

Once this happens, is there any way to salvage the diaper? Pictured above is the very first cloth diaper I ever owned, a bumGenius 4.0 in twilight. I really wanted to revive this one. It was a baby shower gift from my friend Sarah (of Nommy’s Nappies). Because it’s not only a great diaper but also my favorite color, I used this diaper on my son a lot.

Ok. That, and I may have been a little too dryer-happy with all of my cloth diapers in the first, oh SEVEN MONTHS of motherhood while my son still woke up every two hours all night long. Of course I knew that hanging cloth diapers to dry was recommended for their longevity, but I was exhausted and preferred to toss everything in the dryer and press a button instead. So I learned that lesson the hard way.

Since online forums are all abuzz with people recommending a hot cycle in the dryer to “re-seal” the PUL of delaminating diapers, I decided to put that theory to the test. It seems a bit odd that if excessive heat can cause delamination, it can also cure it. However, this diaper wasn’t fit for active duty anyway, so I threw it in the dryer on high heat for a full cycle. I won’t even bore you with a picture, because that trip through the dryer did absolutely nothing. What’s this re-sealing in the dryer nonsense, anyway? Is the PUL supposed to magically soften up, spread itself around, and bond back together again? It doesn’t.

But then I had another idea.

Steamer

This is my steamer. Steamer, meet bumGenius.

Steamed delaminated diaper

Despite 10 minutes of my best steaming efforts, there was still no change in the PUL.

Moving on.

Iron

She wouldn’t.

Oh yes, she would!

I had no choice but to pull out the big guns. I was pretty sure that even though the dryer and the steamer couldn’t do anything, the iron would make a noticeable difference. Maybe not a good difference, but a noticeable one.

I used some foil just in case there was any melting action. No need to ruin a good iron.

Ironing Delaminated Diaper

This was a long process. I started on low, but didn’t see any change in the diaper, so I kept gradually turning up the heat on the iron. Finally, when I got the the hottest setting (normally reserved for linens), I started noticing a difference.

It wasn’t what I had hoped for!

Delaminating Diaper after Ironing

As you can see, there was a little melting of the laminate that happened, but not in such a way that it actually repaired any of the cracks. It still leaks, only now it’s also ugly!

Do Not Iron Cloth Diapers

And that, my friends, is why bumGenius tells you not to iron your diapers!