written by
Heather Tobin

Delamination: What is it? How to avoid it. And what to do once it happens.

Cloth Diapers 101 4 min read

Hey everyone! Heather here. Lets talk delamination. Duh Duh DUUUUH! It’s a word that drives fear into the heart of cloth diapering parents. But what is it?
To talk about delamination, we first need to talk about PUL.


What is PUL?

PUL or polyurethane laminate is a compound fabric made by laminating a cloth fabric (usually polyester) to one or both sides of a thin film of polyurethane which creates a waterproof barrier between inserts and a diaper covers. In no scientific terms it's as though those two layers come away from one another. One layer of fabric becomes 2. Science is so cool.


Why polyester and not something more natural, like cotton? Well, after being coated the polyester maintains its stretch whereas cotton typically doesn't. That stretchiness is necessary for things like diaper covers as babies move and stretch a LOT.

Actual footage of my child during a diaper change.


How long does PUL last?

The quality of PUL will often determine the life cycle of it, but other factors can significantly impact its longevity.
Things like high heat can cause PUL to break down faster which is why its recommended to not wash your diapers in water that's too hot or dry your diapers in the dryer on high heat.


Lil Helper always recommends washing on warm or cold and hanging to dry to maintain the life of your diapers! If you need to use the dryer always dry on low-medium heat.


So back to the question at hand. Now that we understand what PUL is, what is delamination?

Well, as said above, PUL is made up of a cloth layer and the polyurethane layer. Like a wonderful sandwich of waterproof protection.
Delamination is essentially those two layers coming apart from each other.



How did this happen?

This can happen in a couple different ways. Using high heat can cause that separation.
It can also become damaged by scratches or cuts. Washing PUL with sharper things like zippers can cause minor punctures within the layers. Over time water and other wear will cause excess damage to the existing holes and can cause that separation.



How can I tell if my diapers are delaminated?

Are you having leaks? Leaking in places can be a sign. Especially in areas other than the leg seams or top of the diaper where you would typically get leaks.
Does your diaper sound crinkly and rough?

If you have a pocket diaper or wet bag you can actually see the thin layer that has separated, but on an AIO (All in one diaper) you can only only hear and feel it.

Image from forums.thebump.com
Note the wrinkles - a sure sign the diaper has delaminated

Want a video comparison to really show the difference?

Credit Ashley W




Can’t tell from sound and feel alone? Test it! Pour 1/4 cup of water onto the middle of the cover. If it leaks within the first 30 seconds it’s likely delaminated or has holes.


* Add video to show test?*




What happens now?


There are different stages of delamination. There might be only small areas in which the two layers are coming apart; tiny bubbles in random areas that you won't really notice. If this is the case, you can continue to use your diaper.

Eventually you might find tiny ‘cracks’ in the fabric. You might not even really notice these for some time but there is potential for leaks through these small fissures.
These are the diapers that you can still use, but more likely to use around the house where you’ll be changing more often or less worried about potential leaking.

Once the fabric is completely delaminated and the layer of polyurethane film has detached completely from the fabric like this

Credit -Spoiledcheapskate.com

your cover or diaper is no longer water resistant.


While that can be devastating when its a favourite, don't fret! You don't have to throw away that super cute diaper!

How to to give new life to a delaminated diaper:

A great way to stretch the life of your cloth diaper, is to use it as a swim diaper! Swim diapers are only meant to keep in solids, so it’s ok if water can pass through. Your delaminated diaper will find new life during the summer months or for swim lessons!

For all the crafty people out there you can also take your delaminated diapers and wet bags and make super cute hair bows for your littles or even your fur babies! You can find a simple no-sew tutorial here

One last way to reuse delaminated diapers is to make a quilt of them. Great option if you’re super sentimental about your diapers.

Credit and short tutorial -Melissa @ ahappystitch.com

Have you had any diapers delaminate? How did you re-use them?

Cloth Diapers 101