Best Way to Choose Pull-Up

Diapers for Adults

Posted by Brianna Maguire on Nov 13th 2020

Stay in charge of your own body and enjoy discretion and dryness with our pull-up diapers, also called protective underwear. With the same look and feel as regular underwear, protective underwear provides active adults with the protection and support they need, so staying dry is easy.

Experiencing incontinence but hate diapers with tabs? Adult pull-up diapers provide the absorbency and protection you need while easily sliding on and off. Pull-ups come in a range of absorbencies, so whatever your unique needs might be, we have the right product for you.

Learn about:

What are adult pull-up diapers?

Pull-up diapers, also called "protective underwear," are absorbent products that look and feel like real underwear. They feature a thick, absorbent core and a stretchy waist. Just like real underwear, these slide up the legs and over the belly.

Who should use protective underwear?

Pull-up underwear is ideal for those who are:

  • Caring for themselves
  • Mobile and active
  • Mildly to moderately incontinent, with urine leakage
  • Able to make it to the bathroom sometimes
  • Agile and coordinated enough to pull underwear up and down
  • More comfortable with the look and feel of regular underwear

Who shouldn't use these products?

Pull-up underwear is probably not a good fit for:

  • Caregivers putting the underwear on someone else
  • Heavy incontinence, or bowel incontinence
  • Those with low balance or mobility
  • Those with waist sizes larger than 80 inches (2XL)

How do they work?

Pull-up diapers hug the body like regular underwear. The core is full of polymers (small absorbent beads) that lock up moisture and turn it into gel. Sometimes polymers are pH balanced to counteract the ammonia in urine, eliminating odors.

How to put protective underwear on:

  • The backside of the pull-up will have some sort of marking (the size, a strip of colored fabric, or even the word “back”)
  • Step into the pull-up, placing one leg into each leg hole
  • Slide the pull-up up your legs, just like underwear
  • Make any adjustments so that the back sheet is turned outwards and the fit is snug and comfortable

How to take protective underwear off:

  • Once the product is full, just tear away the side seams, one at a time, then lift the pull-up away

What features exist?

Tear-away sides

Most disposable underwear has easy-tear strips of fabric on either side, making them simple to remove.

Wetness indicators

Some protective underwear will have a wetness indicator that tells you when it’s time for a change. This is especially useful for caregivers and parents.

Cloth-like backing

The outside of pull-up diapers are made with a soft cloth, making them comfortable and breathable (and therefore safer on skin). Since cloth doesn’t make noise, cloth-backing also helps ensure the product is discreet.

Skin healthy ingredients

Many pull-up diapers are hypoallergenic and contain ingredients like aloe and chamomile, making them perfect for sensitive skin.

Leg gathers

Also called “leg guards,” these are strips of fabric that run along the inside of the protective underwear for more leakage protection.

Stretchy waistband

Protective underwear with stretchy waistbands tend to be more comfortable.

Gender-specific designs

Some disposable underwear is unisex, but others come in gender-specific designs that conform to the body

  • Men’s pull-up diapers carry polymers in the front, where men void. Some have masculine designs, or are shaped to more closely resemble regular briefs.
  • Women’s pull-up diapers have polymers in the core, where women void. Some have more feminine designs and shapes

Can I put a pad inside of a pull-up?

You should NEVER put a pad inside of a pull-up, unless it’s a booster pad. 

Bladder pads have plastic backing, so urine will never make it to the pull-up. Instead, it’ll leak out the sides, leading to messes and extra laundry.


  • First, look for a higher absorbency. Our pull-ups come in very high absorbencies, so you never really need to add a pad
  • If you really need to extend the life of your pull-up, use a booster pad. Booster pads do not have a plastic backing, meaning that urine can pass through the pad and into the pull-up

Need a recommendation or have more questions? Our friendly Care Team are product experts and love to help. Give us a call at 855-855-1666.

What kind of pull-up diapers are there?

  • Overnight Pull-Ups

    More absorbent than typical pull-ups, these provide all-night protection, or heavy-duty daytime support

  • Women’s Protective Underwear

    Shaped to fit snugly against a woman’s body, these come in feminine designs and colors

  • Men’s Protective Underwear

    Contoured to fit male anatomy, these carry polymers in the front, where men tend to void. These come in masculine designs - some look just like regular briefs.

  • Plus-Size Pull-Ups

    For those with waist sizes between 62 and 80 inches, plus-sized pull-ups offer a comfortable, absorbent fit.

  • Swim Pull-Ups

    Swim pull-ups offer protection against bowel incontinence while in the pool or at the beach.

Keep in mind that there is overlap in these categories - some plus-sized pull-ups are also women’s pull-ups, some men’s pull-ups are also overnights, and so on.

How do I choose?

  1. Decide if you need a specialized pull-up, like an overnight or swim variety.

  2. Decide which features you want to prioritize. If you want to feel like you’re wearing regular underwear, look for gender-specific designs. Want to feel a little more secure? You’ll want to look for leg guards.

  3. Determine what absorbency you’ll need. For occasional voids, a light absorbency is fine, but for heavier needs or overnight protection, you’ll want something super absorbent.

  4. Figure out your size by measuring both your waist and hips in inches, then using the larger of the two to reference our sizing charts.

  5. Need more help? Call our friendly Care Team at 855-855-1666!

Carewell's recommendations

Our customers love pull-ups from brands like PrevailAttendsMcKessonTENA, and Tranquility.

For heavy incontinence, we recommend:

Attends Premier Pull-Up Underwear, Overnight

Highly comfortable and absorbent, these protective underwear provide overnight protection and advanced skin health. With a uniquely powerful odor guard, these are some of the best pull-up diapers caregivers can buy.

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For moderate incontinence, we recommend:

Cardinal Sure Care Protective Pull-Up Underwear, Plus

These pull-ups feature quick absorption, leg gathers, and a silent cloth backing. They’re great for shopping, traveling, or just lounging around the house!

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For light incontinence, we recommend:

McKesson Classic Underwear, Light Absorbency

Clothlike, comfortable, and odor-guarding, these pull-ups are great for occasional voids or any kind of light protection.

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Brittany's pro-tips

  1. Having trouble picking an absorbency? Think about how often you’ll be changing the pull-up and how many times you tend to void in that time. If you’re going for a long day out, you’ll have fewer chances to change, so you’ll want a higher absorbency. For just lounging around the house, a lighter absorbency should do the trick.

  2. Sometimes people like to have different kinds of pull-ups for different situations. Some of our customers have gender-specific pull-ups for daily use, overnight pull-ups for nighttime, and swim pull-ups for the pool. Don’t feel like you have to try and find a pull-up that does it all!

Shop Protective Underwear