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Tea Towel Test - Failed PUL

1 CommentSaturday, 7 October 2017

The Nappy Lady Tea Towel Test

We often get people worried that their PUL wraps (waterproof covers) have failed when they get leaking nappies.  It is always a possibility but isn't usually the first thing we consider if we know you're using good quality wraps.

PUL covers are fairly durable is you have good quality ones to start with and have cared for them well.   The waterproof cover is ALWAYS the most important part of a nappy system and a great wrap can make even a very basic nappy work reliably. This is the reason we always recommend you use the best quality wraps you can get (Motherease are ALWAYS our first choice) and if you need to economise on the nappy system do this with the nappy part not the wrap!

There are different grades/quality of PUL as with everything in life, the saying you get what you pay for is normally right when it comes to PUL longevity.

PUL can degrade and fail if washed with harsh chemicals, washed too hot, tumble dried too hot, dried on a radiator or even just physically pierced. If the PUL fails there will be a way for urine or any liquid to get through the waterproof layer and lead to leaks.

If you are worried that your PUL has failed we like you to perform the "tea towel" test rather than relying on leaks while baby is wearing it.  When baby is wearing the nappy/wrap there are too many variables to consider such as level of absorbency, speed of urination, fit, length of time the nappy is left on. The "tea towel" test removes these and just tests if the PUL has been compromised.


  • 2 Clean Dry Tea Towels or Muslins. Must be flat absorbent cloth.
  • Suspected Failed Wraps/Covers
  • A clean dry surface which won't be affected by water eg a kitchen counter


  • Firstly get the wrap which you are concerned about and make sure it is clean and dry.
  • Get a clean dry tea towel and fold the tea towel into a rectangle that will easily sit inside the wrap away from the edges and binding of the wrap.
  • Make the tea towel wet but not so that it is dripping.  If you wet it too much so it's dripping it won't be a fair test as the water could just drip or roll off of the wrap/edges.
  • Place the damp folded tea towel inside the wrap you are testing. Remember is MUST be away from the edges and NOT dripping. 
  • Lay the second clean dry tea towel onto a flat surface that won't be affected if it gets wet eg a kitchen counter
  • Lay the wrap with the tea towel inside OPEN on top of this second tea towel.
  • Leave for 30mins
  • After 30mins if the clean dry tea towel the wrap is laying on is damp at all then your PUL has failed as water is getting through the PUL membrane. The wrap can't be saved so should be removed from your nappy system.  If the tea towel is still dry your PUL is intact and PUL failure ISN'T the reason for your leaks.

    If you have failed PUL wraps nappy libraries will gladly take them off your to make into nappy keyrings for fundraising.  The address to send you failed PUL wraps is below, please include a note so that they know they are not to be hired out but to be recycled WHNAS, 3 Bellars Lane, Malvern, WR14 2DH


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