Measuring for Adult Diapers, Pull-Ons and Pads


No one likes the feeling of something not fitting correctly, especially when it comes to personal care products and other absorbent undergarments like adult diapers. When it comes to comfort, dignity, and lifestyle, finding an adult diaper with the right fit is essential. Whether you’re seeking adult bladder or bowel control products for yourself or for someone in your care, here are some things to know that can make all the difference—including tips on how to measure for the best fit.

Common Misconceptions of Adult Diaper Sizing

Does bigger mean better absorbency? The answer is no. A lot of people think that the bigger the diaper, the more absorbent it will be. Adult diapers, pull-ups, liners, and pads are designed to manage specific absorbency levels. No matter the size of the diaper – extra small or extra large – a product that features high absorbency can handle heavy voids while keeping the user dry and comfortable. Well-made products have some technology that pulls liquid away from the skin, known as "wicking" that keeps skin dry and helps avoid the build-up of odors. These products also help prevent skin breakdowns and infections.

It’s common knowledge that liquid always finds the path of least resistance. So if the leg area of a product is not snug enough, liquid will leak through the gaps. The best incontinence products pay close attention to the leg opening area. A simple way to ensure a good fit is to run a finger lightly underneath the elastic around both legs. If the opening is snug – not overly tight – you should enjoy a comfortable fit and less leakage, if any.

Tips on Absorbency with Bladder Leakage Pads

If you or a person in your care experiences leakage, you may be piling on products for extra protection. This is not always the best solution. Using just a pad or liner is helpful for light incontinence or what some call “stress incontinence.” Liners and pads are designed with a waterproof backing that secures to regular underwear with an adhesive strip. But when liners or pads are inserted into an adult diaper, the plastic backing prevents the diaper from absorbing effectively. So, rather than having extra protection, the wearer gets the advantage of the liner only. In addition, a saturated liner can put pressure on the skin and cause irritation. For full protection and optimal absorption, booster pads can be inserted into the diaper to boosts absorbency. A liner and diaper together may provide very effective protection.

It’s All How You Measure

Size is one of the most important things to consider. Many briefs are measured using waist and hip sizes but brands differ when you look at individual sizing charts. For instance, a small Supreme brief fits waists between 22-32 inches, whereas a small Tranquility ATN Brief fits waists 24-32 inches. Be sure to measure before making a purchase.

Measuring Tips

  • Take a tape measure and determine what is most comfortable: standing or lying down.

  • Measure both the waist and hip areas to the nearest half inch.

  • Remember, products that are too large tend to leak at the legs, so always start with a smaller size and work up.

  • Always re-measure a person whenever there is significant weight gain or loss.

Top Underwear and Adult Diaper Sizing Questions

  • Are the legs snug around the legs without cutting off circulation, or is there any kind of a gap? If you have any looseness or gaps around the legs, particularly when laying down, consider another product or size to avoid leakage through the legs.

  • Are you able to sit without the sides splitting or tabs coming loose? If the sides split or tabs come undone, consider a larger size to avoid product failure. If your product has tabs, try readjusting the tabs to fit more comfortably. Note that plastic backed briefs are not refastenable more than once unless they have a landing zone.

  • Is the stomach area sagging or too loose? Consider a smaller size or a snug-fitting, waterproof diaper cover to contain leakage if a different size is not an option for you.

  • Can you move comfortably? If not, where are you uncomfortable? The waist, legs or both? Your undergarment should fit snugly and closely against the body without causing discomfort. Are you needing to change your undergarment frequently? Consider a higher absorbency product or add a booster pad to increase absorbency if changing products is not an option.

Adult diaper measuring tips


Each person's body and needs are unique. There are a vareity of factors that impact how a diaper fits, including a person's weight, height, activity level as well as thigh and leg thickness.

If you have questions regarding product sizing, or anything else, please call us at (800) 563-0161. We'll provide you with product suggestions based on your specific needs. 

We're always happy to help!