Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is wicking?

This is a term that simply mystified me when I was first doing my research! Wicking, to me, meant something maybe possibly to do with candle making...? What on earth did 'wicking' mean when referring to diapers?

Frankly, even now, it's tough for me to think about defining "wicking" without using the word itself! But I'll give it my best shot.

Okay, wicking is when moisture seeps through the PUL or soaks onto the binding around diapers, and then wets the childs clothes. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "But PUL is supposed to be waterproof! How can the moisture seep through it?" Well...

PUL is not 100% waterproof. It's just not. And there are different weights of PUL, although I don't know enough about the differences. (Any WAHMs out there want to weigh in?) Sometimes if you're shopping on Etsy or Hyena Cart, you may see a diaper advertised as "2 mil PUL" or something, and that has to do with the weight/waterproofness of the PUL.

For example, the PUL on Haute Pockets is not terribly weighty. My son (when he was still in diapers, which he's not now, thank the Lord!) couldn't wear Hautes for very long because they wicked straight through. Covers, in my experience tend to be far weightier in PUL than pockets.

My hanging diaper pail (which is a Fuzzi Bunz/Mother of Eden) wicks moisture also. Obviously, it's a hanging bag, but when it's heavy with lots of dipeys, the snaps just can't hold it on the doorknob anymore, so it sits on the bathroom floor. And it wicks a bit of moisture on the floor. Not standing water (ew, urine) or anything, but it's enough that you can see a wet spot. Sort of like if you dropped a wet, wrung out washcloth on a tile floor. Nothing a Clorox wipe can't fix!

We also experience wicking problems with some pocket diapers where the fleece rolls out, like on Happy Heinys. That's really only when I leave a diaper on too long, though. I also have a few WAHM covers that I really love, except that they have a cotton-poly leg binding that tends to wick wetness onto my daughter's clothing. But as long as I have her diaper and cover on straight, and be sure not to let her sit too long - or nap - in those particular covers it's not a big deal.

So that's wicking. I hope I explained it clearly enough. And obviously, the explanation kind of spells out why it's a problem! For the most part, wicking is only a problem if you're not changing the child's diaper often enough! Stripping diapers will not help with a wicking problem. :o)

However, if you're experiencing wicking consistently with a pocket diaper, and you usually hang the pockets to dry, you might be able to "recharge" (for lack of a better word) the PUL by drying the diapers in the dryer on the hottest air possible for about 20 or 30 minutes. (You could also autoclave them if you have access to one, hahaha. Just kidding! Who has access to an autoclave?) Anyway, if you're still having problems after hot drying the diapers, particularly if it's only 1 or 2 diapers out of an entire lot*, then I recommend contacting the source where you purchased the diaper in the first place as well as contacting the manufacturer directly to see if they have any more specific advice, or can offer you to exchange the diaper.

** If you begin noticing a problem with a diaper - or several - but are having a hard time remembering which diapers, make a very small but distinguishable mark with a permanent marker on the tag, or put a safety pin through the tag of the offending diapers as soon as you take the diaper off the child. That way, you can keep track over the next few days to see if it's just 1 or 2 diapers of the same color, or many diapers in your stash!