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Wet bags and pail liners can be a significant financial investment, especially if you buy more of the higher-end ones.
Seeing them leaking can be discouraging, especially because you bought them to last for a long time.
It’s even worse if this happens at the beginning of using cloth diapers, where you’re nowhere near the potty training phase.
You’re probably wondering what is going on and if there is something you can do to fix the leaks yourself.
By reading this post, you’ll learn how to prevent the leaking and fix it if it happens.
If you ended up with not enough functional wet bags/pail liners, read this post where I list alternatives to wet bags/pail liners.
Always Squeeze Out Excess Fluids from Rinsed Diapers
Wet bags and pail liners (affiliate links to Amazon) are generally made of PUL (Polyurethane laminate), an artificial water-resistant material that still allows the diapers to breathe.
Remember that water-resistant does not mean waterproof, meaning the PUL can only resist moisture up to a certain point. If there is too much moisture, the PUL won’t be able to hold it all inside the wet bag, and you’ll notice leaks.
Putting diapers with pee only into the wet bag or the pail liner directly without rinsing is okay. They generally won’t be so wet that a quality wet bag couldn’t handle it.
After rinsing poopy or nighttime diapers, however, you have to squeeze as much water as possible out of the diaper.
In my experience, squeezing water out is the hardest to do with fitted diapers (affiliate link to Amazon) since they’re generally thicker and more absorbent than the other types.
I sometimes use the rinsing program on my washing machine if I’m dealing with rinsing fitted diapers.
You’ll probably be able to squeeze the excess water easily with all other types of cloth diapers.
If you’re wondering about what are the other cloth diaper types, check out this post to see which cloth diaper types will best suit your needs.
Identify the Leaking Area
Where exactly is your wet bag/pail liner leaking?
Is it at the seams? The whole bottom area? On a large portion of the wet bag/pail liner?
If your PUL leaks at the seams, you probably store a lot of excess water inside the wet bag. This can be because you didn’t squeeze the excess water out of the diapers thoroughly enough, or you’re storing too many wet diapers inside the wet bag.
Leaks on the bottom or any other area of your wet bag/pail liner also indicate that the PUL probably can’t take that much moisture and lets it through, resulting in leaks. This can be because you’re either placing diapers with excess water in them or storing too many diapers inside the wet bag.
Another option is that the PUL doesn’t work anymore because of the normal wear and tear caused by prolonged use and frequent washing at high water temperatures.
Check for PUL Damage
Turn the wet bag or the pail liner inside out and inspect the PUL for any potential holes and tears.
Apply special attention to the seams where PUL could be damaged easier than in other areas.
If you find any tears, that is probably the main reason for the leaks.
Another inconvenience that can happen to PUL is delamination.
Delamination means that the water-resistant layer delaminates from the outside layer, which doesn’t necessarily mean that PUL will leak. Still, it does make it much more susceptible to potential damage and, therefore, to future leaks.
If delamination occurs within the warranty period, take advantage of it and inform the manufacturer.
Fix Porous PUL with a Revitalizer
Unless your PUL is obviously torn in many places, chances are you will be able to revitalize the PUL and make it water-resistant again. Revitalizing won’t fix cracks and tears but will prevent leaks by applying the revitalizer to PUL.
This is especially handy if you know your cloth diapering journey will end in the next couple of months, and you don’t want to buy new wet bags/pail liners again.
Know the Lifespan of PUL
Contrary to common beliefs, PUL probably won’t be able to withhold all the washing and drying at high temperatures for more than 2 to 3 years.
Like every other fabric/material PUL also has a certain lifespan expectancy.
Many manufacturers state that PUL will last about 100 – 200 washes, which adds up pretty quickly, considering you’re washing cloth diapers every 2 to 3 days.
Let’s assume you’re alternating between two large wet bags/diaper pails and washing cloth diapers every 2.5 days. You will wash each large wet bag/pail liner every five days.
This amounts to 73 wash cycles in one year, so if we assume the PUL durability of 100-200 wash cycles, your wet bag/pail liner will likely last anywhere from 16 to 33 months.
The same principle applies to smaller wet bags often used for outings. Let’s assume that most of these will be washed every 2.5 days.
This amounts to 146 wash cycles in one year, so if we assume the PUL durability of 100-200 wash cycles, your wet bags will likely last anywhere from 8-16 months.
Of course, there will be outliers in real life, where the PUL might get damaged earlier, or it might last you a long time, way over what the manufacturers officially expect.
Minimize Risk for Potential PUL Damage
You can help your PUL wet bags/pail liners to reach a longer lifespan by doing these things:
- Keep enough wet bags/pail liners in your stash to alternate between them and therefore keep them functional longer because you won’t use them all the time,
- air-dry the wet bags/pail liners as much as possible or use the dryer on low heat since high heat will decrease the PUL’s lifespan,
- avoid placing them in direct sunlight for a longer period because the high heat can damage PUL,
- don’t use bleach or fabric softeners when washing PUL wet bags/pail liners,
- use a revitalizer to restore the water-resistant layer in PUL.