Tea Towel Test - Failed PUL
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 if 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, and if you need to economise on the nappy system do this with the nappy part not the wrap!
PUL can degrade and fail if washed with harsh chemicals, washed too hot, tumble dried too hot, dried directly 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.
What you need
- 2 clean, dry tea towels or muslins. Must be flat absorbent cloth.
- Suspected failed wraps
- A clean dry surface which won't be affected by water e.g. a kitchen counter
How to do it
- Get the wrap which you are concerned about and make sure it is clean and dry.
- Get a clean, dry tea towel and fold 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 much that it is dripping. If the towel is dripping wet it won't be a fair test as the water could just drip or roll off 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 on a flat surface that won't be affected if it gets wet e.g. a kitchen counter.
- Lay the wrap with the tea towel inside OPEN on top of this second tea towel.
- Leave for 30 mins.
- After 30 mins, if the bottom tea towel is damp at all then your PUL has failed as water is getting through the PUL membrane. If the tea towel is still dry your PUL is intact and PUL failure isn't the reason for your leaks.
If your wraps have failed:
If you carried out the test and your wraps have failed there is normally very little you can do to save them. Some brands e.g. Thirsties advise that giving the wrap a short, hot tumble dry can help to reseal any pin prick holes in the PUL. Please note it isn't recommended to tumble dry PUL as a matter of course, but if your wrap is nearing the end of its life anyway there's no harm in trying. Alternatively Mother-ease make a reproofing product to restore the waterproof properties of PUL, which can be cost effective if you have a large number of wraps that have failed.
If you have failed PUL wraps, some nappy libraries may take them off your hands to make into nappy keyrings for fundraising so it's always worth contacting them to see if they can make use of them. The address to send your 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