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Common Materials Used in Cloth DIapers
The materials used in the cloth diapers you choose for your baby are equally as important as the style of diaper you choose. The following is an explanation of some of the most commonly used diaper materials:
Waterproof Layers are commonly made of materials such as PUL (polyurethane laminate) and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), the waterproof layers of cloth diapers obviously perform very important functions that most parents will not want to do without. While the processes used to create these fabrics are way too complex for most of us to understand, there are two key questions that you may want to ask the manufacturer of your diaper:
- Do they use solvents in the production of their material? Some PUL and TPU fabrics are created with a slightly more expensive thermal-only process, which has no chance of leaving behind trace amounts of solvents. Other processes use solvents (sometimes in combination with heat) that may degrade over time, meaning that these chemicals will be entering (and staying in!) your household.
- Do the spray-on water repellants they use in the production of their material contain formaldehyde? All waterproof fabrics require that a spray-on water repellant be used to retain the waterproofing features after sewing has occurred. Otherwise, the pinholes made by sewing will cause leaks. Some manufacturers test to ensure that the spray-on repellants used in their diapers do not contain any amount of formaldehyde - a material described by the US National Toxicology Program as "known to be a human carcinogen."
There are a wide variety of materials - sometimes used in combination with each other - used to create the absorbency layers of cloth diapers. The following list details the major materials used, with some of the key features and issues associated with each:
Bamboo - Bamboo fiber is incredibly absorbent. It’s also naturally resistant to bacterial growth. Sounds like it’s too good of a cloth diaper absorbent material to be true, right? Unfortunately, bamboo is not as great of a choice or even organic, as it’s often labeled. Because the bamboo plant grows quickly, it can be farmed with very little negative impact on the surrounding ecology. The not-so-great part is the process of converting the bamboo wood into the soft, absorbent fiber used for cloth diapering. The manufacturing process is complicated and full of harsh chemicals, so it does cause some environmental harm and often isn’t correctly defined if it has an organic label.
Cotton - Cotton is the most commonly used plant based fiber on earth. Because of its incredible popularity and many uses, cotton production is a major industry, and not all cotton is created equal. The cotton industry does use GMO cottons that can be harmful to farmlands and the surrounding environment in an effort to meet demand. To seek out a cotton that is the most ecologically responsible in production, and to guarantee that your child's diapers are not made of GMO cottons you will want to check for organic certification of the fabrics. For example OEKO-TEX® Certification is considered the gold standard in textiles that are free from harmful substances. Read more about Certified Organic Cotton .
Hemp - Hemp is also a natural fiber that’s naturally resistant to bacterial growth. While it is more hygroscopic than cotton, meaning it can hold more water, hemp materials are very thin and unable to instantly absorb water like cotton or polyester can. For this reason, hemp fabric is often paired with another absorbent fiber, like cotton, in cloth diapers.
Modal - Modal fabric is similar to bamboo in two ways: it’s made from wood pulp and it can’t correctly be labeled as ‘organic’ due to how it’s manufactured. Modal differs from bamboo in that it’s made from the wood pulp of beech trees rather than bamboo. This absorbent material is well-loved for its incredibly silky feel and ability to retain its softness after lots of use. Another key advantage to modal fabrics in cloth diapering is that they are resistant to mineral build-up that many cloth diaper users struggle with when washing their diapers in hard water.
Polyester - Polyester is a man made material, and as such is made with chemicals and petroleum. In diapering the word "polyester" is often replaced with "microfiber," "minky," and occasionally "zorb". These products are quite absorbent, but they do wear out over time, loosing the ability to absorb with continued wear. Microfiber is often used in pocket diapers and should never be used directly against a baby's skin as it can be irritating. The microscopic structure of these fibers that makes them so absorbent can also make them incredibly difficult to get thoroughly clean with each washing, and therefore tend to develop odors over time.
Other Common Materials Used in Cloth Diapers
The porous and water-resistent properties of the following fabrics allow for them to be used in unique ways for cloth diapering.
Fleece - Polyester fleece comes in many weights and varieties and can perform several different functions. The thinnest fleece is often used on the interior of a diaper as a stay dry layer, as described further below. Thicker fleeces can be used in making a breathable cover for diapers. If there is a very absorbent diaper underneath, fleece can be an incredibly successful fabric as a cover for diapers since it is so water resistant, yet porous for breathability. It is often sewn into "soakers," "shorties," and "longies" at home for economical and adorable diapering. Fleece does vary in quality however, and can be prone to compression leaks when used in a car seat or baby carrier for an extended time.
"Stay Dry" Fabrics - Suedecloth, microfleece, and athletic fabrics - which are porous polyester fabrics - are frequently used in diapering as a "stay dry" layer . These fabrics are not designed to absorb liquids, so when used inside a diaper as the layer closest to a baby's skin the urine passes through them and into the absorbent layers of the diaper. This helps to keep moisture away from a baby's skin longer, helping the skin to "stay dry."
Wool - Wool is the most natural and breathable material available for use in diaper covers. It is naturally resistant to bacterial growth and when lanolized it is incredibly water resistant. Wool interlock fabric , as well as knit and crocheted items, all require hand washing and lanolizing but many who use wool as their choice for diaper covers find the benefits of wool to be worth the higher maintenance of the material. A wool cover paired with an absorbent fitted diaper is a very breathable choice and is popular for children who are more rash prone as well as for night time diapering.
Modern cloth diapers come in many varieties so that each family can find exactly what works for them. Considering the source of your diapers, and which fabrics you most want wrapped around your baby is an important part of cloth diapering as you will be reusing the diapers many times over the next few years. View different styles of cloth diapers offered from The Natural Baby Company .
Cloth Diaper Inserts - Helping You Understand Absorbency Options
If you're new to cloth diapering, the differences between cloth diaper inserts, doublers, boosters, and soakers can be confusing to say the least! Here we review absorbent options for your diapers, and talk about fabric types too! By the time you're done this article, we hope we'll have cleared up any questions you might have about inserts and cloth diaper absorbency.
Absorbency for Pocket Diapers
Inserts are designed to be stuffed into pocket diapers. They are usually rectangular, and are made of absorbent material. Doublers are used with cloth diaper inserts to provide extra absorbency in a pocket diaper. While you can use two inserts, the extra bulk sometimes means the elastic doesn't fit snuggly around your baby's legs, leading to leaks, especially at night. Doublers are sometimes cut in an hour-glass shape that reduces bulk around the legs. Other times, doublers are smaller rectangles, and can be used as a newborn cloth diaper insert when the full-size insert is still too bulky for your tiny baby. Inserts and doublers can be made out of a variety of materials. Pocket diapers are designed with a stay-dry layer of fleece, minky, microsuede, or other fabric that wicks moisture away from baby. Because of this barrier, microfiber is a fairly common pocket diaper insert. You shouldn't place microfiber right next to your baby's skin (such as in AIOs and AI2s), since it can cause dryness and irritation.
Absorbency for All-in-Ones and All-in-Twos
Soakers are designed to be used with All in Two cloth diapers. All in two (AI2) cloth diapers consist of a shell or cover, plus an absorbent soaker that either snaps or lays inside of the shell. When the diaper is wet, you can change the insert, and reuse the shell. Soakers are also sometimes incorporated into fitted diapers (for example, the snap-in soaker in the Bamboozle from TotsBots ).
Boosters are used with a soaker to provide extra absorbency. Boosters are also often added to all-in-one diapers for heavy-wetters and for overnight use.
Soakers and doublers are most commonly made with natural fibers such as hemp and cotton, and also bamboo. If you plan to use a doubler made of microfiber or Zorb soaker, you'll want to make sure that it incorporates another layer of fabric next to baby's skin, to avoid dryness.
NOTE: Wool diaper covers are sometimes also called soakers. These are not absorbent, so we won't talk about wool soakers in this article! You can read more about wool soakers at Types of Cloth Diapers .
What About Liners?
There are two types of diaper liners.
- Biodegradable liners: Made for a single use, these soft paper-like pieces of fabric are used to make clean-up of poopy diapers easier. You simply lift the liner out, and flush it all down your toilet. Oso Cozy and Bummis are two of many brands of flushable liners.
- Stay-Dry Fleece liners: these reusable liners are meant to be washed after each use. They are usually used to wick moisture away from your baby's bum, but lots of parents also add them to protect diaper soakers or the fleece layer of their pocket diapers from rash creams that can build up in diapers and cause them to repel moisture. Fleece makes it easy to clean up messy diapers, too. Stay-dry fleece liners are breathable, and are great for night-time use when feeling dry might extend your baby's sleep
You don't even need to know how to sew to make your own stay-dry liners. Microfleece won't unravel, so making your own liners is as easy as cutting up a piece of fleece!
What Types of Absorbent Material Are Used?
Cloth diaper inserts are often made of cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, or Zorb. For soakers, the absorbent material is sometimes topped with microfleece (such as the Soft Bums Echo microfiber soaker), or cotton or bamboo velour.
Cotton is one of the oldest and most familiar fabrics used in cloth diapers. This natural fabric is affordable, absorbent, and available everywhere! Fitted diapers and some all-in-ones use knit cotton, but prefolds and many other inserts are made of woven fabric. Infant prefolds can be folded into thirds to make good cloth diaper inserts for your pocket diapers, too.
Bamboo fleece is a popular option for cloth diapers. It is super soft, wicks moisture away quickly, and can keep your baby comfortable even when wet. There is, however, some misunderstanding about the eco-friendly nature of bamboo fabrics. Bamboo fleece is essentially a synthetic, not a natural fabric. Our article on bamboo fleece will give you more information so you can make an informed decision.
Hemp inserts are a real work-horse in the cloth diapering world - they are durable and super thirsty! You won't find much 100% hemp fabric, it is usually blended with cotton (45% cotton, 55% hemp), which makes it softer and more comfortable. Hemp can come off the clothes line quite stiff, though, so you may want to soften it up in the dryer! For my son, we used hemp cloth diaper inserts almost exclusively. The hemp inserts and boosters from AMP Diapers are one of my absolute favorite products!
Microfiber is a man-made, absorbent material. Made of a polyester/polyamide blend, they are light and fast-drying. You should use a barrier, such as fleece liners, between a microfiber insert and your baby's skin, because microfiber can dry out and irritate their sensitive skin. Microfiber is also a little like a sponge - since it's fluffy, moisture may "wring out" of it when subjected to compression. In general, layer for layer, bamboo, hemp, and cotton are trimmer and more absorbent than microfiber.
Introduced to the cloth diaper inserts market by FuzziBunz, minky is an absorbent man-made fiber. Minky provides similar absorbency to microfiber, but is less bulky, repels stains better, and doesn't feel rough like microfiber. As well, they are supposed to be easier to clean than microfiber, meaning you may face less stink issues over time.
Have you heard of Zorb yet? Although I had seen it sold on Wazoodle, my first experience with it was in an all-in-one from Mother-Ease, called the Wizard Uno (which, by the way, we love!) Zorb is a blend of bamboo, cotton, viscose and microfiber. It was designed specifically for cloth diapers, with the goal or reducing costs and improving performance. Each layer of Zorb replaces 2-3 layers of cotton, bamboo, or hemp terry, or microfiber. The manufacturer claims that it absorbs moisture 20x faster than other fabrics, and will hold more moisture. It's apparently a miracle fabric for diapers too - it's much less likely to have stink issues that need stripping from hard water or detergent residues!
Hybrid diapers haven't been around as long as other cloth diaper options, but these provide added flexibility for families who may choose to switch between cloth and disposable diapers. With hybrid diapers, such as Flip, G-Diaper, and Grovia, you can purchase special disposable inserts that can be used in their branded cloth diaper covers. Perfect for times when you don't want to carry wet or dirty diapers back home with you at the end of the day!
How do I care for my cloth diaper inserts, soakers, or liners?
Cloth diaper inserts, soaker pads, and reusable fleece liners can be washed with the rest of your laundry, no special care needed! Read our article on washing cloth diapers for more information about prepping your inserts for their first use, detergent choices, and laundry routines.
Keep in Mind When You're Buying Diapers...
Don't forget to think about the insert when you compare different brands and styles of diapers. Some diapers come with cloth diaper inserts included in the price, while for others you have to buy them separately.
Microfiber inserts come with many cloth diapers. Lots of parents decide to replace these inserts with more effective absorbency options. We share some of our favorite inserts below.
Are you looking for more information on making your own cloth diaper inserts? Don't miss the following articles:
- Making Cloth Diaper Inserts - more details on fabric choices, plus dimensions, sewing tips, and much more
- On a Budget: Making Cloth Diaper Inserts from Materials You Already Have at Home
If you're looking for overnight diaper options, we've written more on night-time diapering here.
Favorite Brands of Cloth Diaper Inserts
There are lots of great cloth diaper inserts on the market today. I started out using pocket diapers, but have since added AIO's and AI2's as well, so I've tested a number of insert and soaker options. I use mostly natural fiber inserts, and prefer them over microfiber for so many reasons.
Lots of pocket diapers come with fluffy microfiber inserts included, and they are usually the least expensive to buy. I never fell in love with microfiber, and it's unlikely you will either (when I ask readers about inserts, complaints about microfiber always surface!) If you decide to "upgrade" your inserts from microfiber (for trimness, absorbency, or other reasons), there are lots of great absorbency options available, including 10 of our favorites below!
Featured Cloth Diaper Inserts
In no particular order, below are some of the inserts we love.
- AMP 2-Layer Hemp Tri-Fold Inserts - I LOVE these inserts, and we used them almost exclusively with my first. They are similar to a prefold - they have to be folded in half or thirds to fit into a diaper, so they dry more quickly than multiple layers of hemp sewn together. I bought an AppleCheeks 2-layer bamboo insert, and it was super-soft, but it didn't compare to the AMP Hemp in terms of absorbency. $6.95 from Cozy Bums .
- Rumparooz 6r Bamboo Insert & Soaker Set - I discovered this insert when I purchased an EcoPosh pocket fitted diaper. This set includes a 3-layer contour-shaped newborn insert and a snap-down 4-layer one-size insert that snap together. It is made of bamboo and organic cotton blended with polyester fleece for durability. Once fully prepped, this set has gotten us through the night several times, but I also love that it does offer a lot of flexibility with configurations. $12 from Diaper Junction .
- Knickernappies LoopyDo - prewashed and ready to absorb! These inserts offer a great solution for absorbency without compromising drying times. Made of hemp and microfiber layers sewn in a loop that allows for faster drying times. These are my sister's favorite inserts, and they are incredibly durable - she gave me some of them after she had used them for 18 months, and they are still in rotation for us another 18 months later! $7.49 from Amazon .
- Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefolds $8.85 from Amazon .
- Lil Helper Charcoal Bamboo Insert & Soaker Set - This set includes 2 inserts (a large and a small), each made up of 2 layers of charcoal bamboo and 2 layers of hidden microfiber terry. I like that these inserts can be laid in diaper shells or tucked into pockets. Plus they snap together, making it easier to get them on a squirmy baby. $12.95 from LilHelper.ca
- Mainstays Flour Sack Tea Towels - these may be the cheapest inserts, price wise, on my list, but do not underestimate them. Made of a single layer of gauze-y 100% cotton fabric, these towels can be pad-folded and laid in a cover, or tucked inside a pocket. They are absorbent and easy to wash. $13.97 for 12 from Amazon .
- Alva Baby 3-Layer Bamboo Terry Inserts - if you want to try bamboo, these inserts are an affordable starter. I use 2 of these to provide similar absorbency to a flat or prefold. They are made of a bamboo viscose terry, and are trim and soft. They are not the highest quality of inserts and I do find they stain easily, but they tuck nicely inside pockets, including my bumGenius and other wider diapers. $24.95 for 12 from Amazon.com
- OsoCosy Birdseye Cotton Flats - these are old-school cloth diapers - a simple 27" square made of a single layer of fabric. They are incredibly absorbent, and I like to pad-fold them, which creates 12 layers of fabric. These are my favorite overnight solution - I use 2 of them inside a wool wrap - they are thirsty and rinse out very easily (no more issues with concentrated urine residues!) $21 for 12 from Amazon .
- B ummis Organic Cotton Infant Prefolds - these prefolds are thick and soft, and wash up beautifully. I purchased them for my newborn and once we moved into one-size diapers, I started tri-folding them and using them as inserts in other diapers. They are affordable and are made of 100% organic cotton. $18 for 6 ($3 each) on Amazon.com
- SoftBums Bamboo Super Pods - the first SoftBums diapers I purchased came with stay-dry microfiber inserts, and I liked them, but when I discovered their bamboo pods, I was in love. The bamboo super pod includes a newborn pod and a one-size snake-style insert that is topped with cotton velour. I have found that even without the newborn insert, the one-size insert is great for trips in the car and naps. $15.95 from Amazon.com
Disclosure : The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and your experience with the product may differ from mine. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. This article contains affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, see our Disclaimer and Copyright.
More in Our Types of Cloth Diapers Series
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Why Choose Cloth
- Cloth Diapers vs Disposables
Cloth Diapers for Beginners
- How to Cloth Diaper
- Types and Styles of Cloth Diapers
- Washing Cloth Diapers
- Cloth Diaper Reviews
Make Your Own
- Making Cloth Diapers
- Cloth Diaper Patterns
- Free Diaper Bag Patterns
- Fun With Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers don’t have to be hard, but with so much information available, they can seem overwhelming! My name is Jenn, and I'm also the mom behind the site All About Cloth Diapers. I hope this site helps you easily find the information you need to start using (and keep using) cloth diapers! [More]
Save Your Sanity and Avoid Diaper Smells and Rashes with This Easy-To-Follow Digital Handbook. This Ultimate Wash and Care Guide Will Give You the Step-By-Step Coaching Your Mom Group Can't Provide!
What Materials Should I Use To Make Cloth Diapers?
If you have sewing skills, cloth diapers can definitely be DIY’d and made by you, often more inexpensively than purchasing pre-made diapers when compared to higher-end diaper brands. This is because cloth diaper fabric by the yard is often inexpensive and information on how to make baby diapers at home and cloth diaper patterns are often free online.
What Fabric Should I Use to Make Cloth Diapers?
Absorbent cloth diaper layers.
If you’ve been sewing for a while you’ll know polyester is just a catch-all term for any fabric made using polyester yarns or fibers. All polyester fabrics are synthetic, made from human-made polymers.
To find ecologically responsible and non-GMO cotton, you’ll want to check it’s organic certification. There are two independent organic certifications for organic cotton: Organic Content Standards (OCS), and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Here’s some information about the differences between them .
Cotton cloth diaper inserts manufactured in China , Mali, or India that do not have any certifications listed are likely to come with high social, environmental and economic impacts .
All that said, bamboo is an excellent choice for cloth diaper fabric since it’s soft, very absorbent and bamboo can be grown grows quickly, and needs little to no pesticides.
Which Absorbent Fabric Should you Choose for Your Cloth Diapers?
Waterproof/ water-resistant cloth diaper cover materials, fleece (polar or arctic fleece).
Fleece used in this way makes a great no-sew, DIY, breathable cover, but is less water-resistant than other types of covers and will also leak quickly when compressed (like when baby is strapped into car seats or booster seats).
Polyurethane laminate (PUL) is the most common fabric used in cloth diaper covers and the shells of all-in-one, all-in-two, and pocket diapers. Wet bags are also made from PUL.
Other Materials Commonly Used in Cloth Diapers
Apart from the materials often found in the water-resistant cover and the absorbent centre of homemade diapers, there are some fabrics that can be used with cloth diapers for other reasons.
Microsuede / suedecloth.
Once you’ve chosen your fabrics, you’ll want to decide what kinds of diapers to make and how to prepare them for your baby so you can find the cloth diaper patterns that will be right for you. Check out the cloth diaper 101 page here for information about the different styles of diapers.
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Choosing reusable cloth diapers is a big decision that can lead to a rewarding journey for you and your baby. But where do you start? Here are the most commonly asked questions on how to start your cloth diaper journey.
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The Best Cloth Diaper Inserts for Absorbency and Comfort
- by Nicki's Admin
- March 30, 2021
Diapers come in a number of different varieties but their most important function is to keep your baby dry and clean. There are two major types of diapers, pocket diapers and a ll-in-two (AI2) diapers , which require a diaper insert for them to work properly. Cloth diaper inserts are essential for making cloth diapers effective at soaking up liquid messes and boosting overall absorbency, leading parents to wonder, what kind of cloth diaper insert is the best?
What if I told you that absorbency is relevant?
Would you believe me?
Eight years ago I would have raised my eyebrow and maybe even closed out of this “misinformation”.
Now that I’m wiser I know that absorbency while still based on layers, fabrics, etc. it still depends on HOW your kiddo actually pees!
I know what you’re thinking.
We already know this.
- Microfiber absorbs quickly.
- Cotton absorbs a little more than microfiber, at just under the same speed.
- Bamboo Absorbs more slowly.
- Hemp is slow to absorb but is the gold standard of absorbency.
The thing is it can be really hard to judge what you need until you’re experiencing something.
What worked perfectly for your older kiddo might not work with your baby.
Have a toddler now? You may be experiencing the joys of flooding.
As always I’m here to help you break down the best cloth diaper for your family.
Top Five Things You Need to Know to Find the Best Inserts for Cloth Diapers
Most families can easily use microfiber throughout their cloth diapering journey.
Cotton is incredibly under-rated and can be layered to work for nearly any child Bamboo is what most families turn to, but it’s not ideal for everyone.
Hemp. Oh how I love you, but also why you will probably need to layer it Nuances of Velour, Terry, Viscose, and more.
1: Microfiber Diaper Inserts
Most families can easily use microfiber throughout their cloth diapering journey I’m going to get a lot of heat for this and frankly, I’m okay with that.
Microfiber gets such a bad wrap. “Microfiber holds on to stink” “ microfiber isn’t a natural fiber so I don’t want to use it” “microfiber doesn’t absorb enough” “microfiber will lead to compression leaks”
Let’s debunk these.
If your wash routine is solid your microfiber will not stink.
If it does, you should evaluate your routine.
This is commonly thrown around and I think it’s just to glorify natural fibers.
Again, no shade for natural fibers, but it’s always a good idea to keep a mixed stash.
Kiddos go through many different wetting stages and sometimes- you may need those microfiber inserts!
I’ll almost give you this one. Almost.
I have used some pretty awful microfiber, but the good microfiber has held up for my super soaking flooder! It’s all about how fast they pee, how forceful they pee, and the quantity of pee.
In my tests microfiber held about 2-3oz less than a bamboo insert of the same thickness.
Okay. So compression leaks CAN happen.
They absolutely can, but they can also happen with cotton and bamboo. Less commonly so with hemp.
The Nicki’s Diapers Ultimate All in One is easily microfibers best cloth diaper and helps to combat that with a lining of fleece sewn in and it WORKS.
Either way, even with a standard pocket if you’re experiencing a compression leak it’s likely due to not enough absorbency, to begin with.
Microfiber is an excellent budget-friendly choice of absorbency.
The absolute main reason why I love it so is because it can withstand a flood.
A Niagara Falls-style flood. If you have a baby that’s wetting out of everything, hemp isn’t helping, and you’re about to throw in the towel give microfiber a try.
You cannot beat its fast absorption. Think you won't need this because you’ve made it a year in?
It’s common for older babies and toddlers to learn how to hold it.
This means their output is going to be far greater at once - the flooding.
2: Cotton Inserts
I didn’t want to get in trouble for copyright infringement, but you get the gist.
Cotton is incredibly under-rated and can be layered to work for nearly any child
Cotton is my go-to for prefold cloth diapers and flat diapers .
It’s cheaper than bamboo, doesn’t shrink as much, and the organic cotton is soooo motherfluffing soft I can rub my face in it.
Cotton absorbs slightly slower than microfiber but is still a viable solution for a flooder. Cotton also absorbs an ounce or two more.
If you are on a budget and want a natural fiber, look no further than cotton! Not a flat or prefolds fan?
Smart Bottoms has a line of certified organic cotton all in ones!
Those babies are soooofffttt but do take a bit of prep work. They definitely earn cottons' best cloth diaper.
3: Bamboo Diaper Inserts
Bamboo is what most families turn to, but it’s not ideal for everyone.
No shade at all to bamboo.
Most of my all in one stash is bamboo as well as my overnight fitteds.
I’m speaking more from a budget standpoint.
I remember trying to build up a cloth diaper stash and I was BROKE. I mean, we just bought groceries and diapers and I had $5 and change in my bank account kind of broke.
The more I had researched cloth diapers the more I was convinced that I needed to spend extra money (that we didn’t have) to swap out all of our microfiber inserts for bamboo.
STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! Cloth on your own budget.
Other reasons it may not be ideal for everyone?
It absorbs a ton, but if you have a fast pee-er or a flooder you’re going to experience leaks.
This usually is remedied with a layer of microfiber.
We’ll end with why I have so much bamboo in my stash because I feel like I have thrown shade even though I didn’t mean to, ha. Sorry!
Bamboo is soft, squishy, and widely available as all in ones and fitteds. And for good reason.
Bamboo tends to lock and load onto moisture and isn’t as expensive as hemp!
Bamboo also works for my two currently in cloth.
Neither of them are super heavy wetters or flooders.
I do still have some microfiber on hand for the inevitable flooding stage though!
If you have a moderate wetter or two in cloth bamboo is still an excellent choice - if your budget agrees!
What’s the best cloth diaper in the bamboo category?
The Imagine Baby Products Bamboo all in one is budget-friendly, roomy, soft, and very absorbent!
4: Hemp Inserts
Oh how I love you, but also why you will probably need to layer it I am OBSESSED with Geffen Hemp products.
Bruh. So good.
Their flats, their fladdles, super absorbers, you name it. I LOVE IT! YES, I AM YELLING!
Hemp is fanfluffingtastic when you need to add some absorbency to your daytime or nighttime solution.
If you are leaking in under an hour or less see flooding. Those long car rides, naps, or simply not quite making it to the 2-3 hour diaper change mark hemp is your friend.
There are some things you should know though!
Hemp is absorbent!
Yes, I just said that, but it’s important to note that because of its superhero-like absorbency it can be trickier to wash.
Routine is key.
If your hemp is still holding on to pee smells evaluate!
Are you tired of me saying that yet?
Hemp is best layered underneath microfiber, cotton, or hemp.
I was able to get away with hemp all by its lonesome with my second cloth diapered kiddo.
She was a trickler.
She peed very little over time and it worked for her.
I think that’s more of the exception than the rule though.
One Geffen flat used to last her an entire sleep session.
She was also a great sleeper. Go figure.
Another exception to the rule.
If you need a budget-friendly overnight cloth diaper solution do not overlook hemp prefolds.
The Geffen (have I said love these yet?) hemp fleece prefolds hold about as much as a Nicki’s Overnight Bamboo fitted and are a bit more wallet-friendly.
Bonus that they stuff easily into your pocket or cover without the added bulk of a fitted. Geffen are easily the best cloth diapers - in and outside of the hemp category.
MORE ON HEMP!
Hemp is a way to boost your newborn cloth diapers all in ones that you’re little is out peeing.
While I absolutely appreciate the ease of use with newborn all in ones they typically don’t work past a few weeks absorbency wise and a newborn geffen quick absorber is an easy way to increase their lifespan.
5: Nuances of Velour, Terry, Viscose, and more
Organic Cotton/Bamboo Velour, Bamboo Terry, Bamboo Viscose, Jersey?
What the fluff? What do you really need to know?
Velour is a feel-dry material. Your child won’t feel wet, but their skin will be moist (sorry to all of you who loathe that word).
Terry is loopy type of fabric similar to a dish towel-soft, gentle, and locks onto moisture.
Bamboo Viscose is a suuuupppeeerr soft looped or smooth fabric similar to terry, but much much softer- like butter.
Jersey is a woven fabric that is trimmer than terry and viscose, but absorbency is similar.
Birdseye has pockets teeny tiny birdseye-sized pockets that lock onto moisture.
Hemp fleece vs no-pill fleece Hemp fleece is mega absorbent and super soft just like your favorite fleece pajamas.
No-Pill fleece is a non-absorbent material that keeps your baby dry
Conclusion - The Best Cloth Diaper Inserts Depend on You!
I hope this fabric and absorbency break down helps you on your journey to finding the best cloth diapers! There’s a lot of information in here that can be overwhelming.
Honestly, everything comes back to not putting all of your eggs in one basket when you’re starting out.
Try a few materials and see what works for you - within your budget!
I do recommend that everyone tries out at least some Geffen Baby.
I have yet to meet a baby or toddler that couldn't use them for whatever reason. They're truly one of the best cloth diapers.
Click here to try them out!
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Absorbent Layers Fabric Finder for Cloth Diapers
Are you looking for the most absorbent material for using in your cloth diaper? These super absorbent fabrics are manufactured in USA in quality-controlled facilities without using toxic chemicals & finishes and have been specially designed for using in reusable cloth diapers or diaper inserts. Unlike other absorbent fabrics, our Ready-AbZORB™ fabrics don’t require pre-wash, which means you can use them the instant you buy them. Plus, our Zorb® Fabrics absorbs 10 times its weight in under 2 seconds and soaks up 20 times faster than other imported fabrics.
PRO Tips - Recommended Absorbent Diaper Fabrics
We recommend using either the Zorb Original & Zorb 3D Dimples as your cloth diaper fabric. Zorb Original is an interlining type of material, so it will need to stitched or serged between 2 layers of fabric. Zorb 3D Dimples is the best option. It does not need to be interlined between fabrics. We have 3 different styles available in the Zorb 3D Dimples (Bamboo, Polyester and Organic Cotton). You can use either of the 3 materials for cloth diapers depending on your design preference.
Zorb 3D Dimples Heavy Duty is preferred if you're looking for the most absorbent option, whereas Zorb 3D Dimples LITE is preferred if thinness or stealth is the priority. Antimicrobial Silver - the fabric has been infused with silver ions to help control odor, create long lasting freshness & inhibit bacterial growth.
Choose from our Recommended Absorbent Diaper Fabrics selection, where each fabric is carefully selected and shop with ease knowing that each fabric is ideal for reducing cost, increasing your diaper's performance and supporting the environment.
In addition to the Absorbent Diaper Layer, you will also need a fabric for the Inner Moisture Wicking Stay Dry Diaper Layer and for the Outer Waterproof PUL Diaper Cover .
Zorb® Original Fabric (W-202)
Info Our products are 100% free of harmful substances, such as PFOS, PFOA, lead, dioxins, heavy metals, BPA, and all kinds of phthalates, includ...
Zorb® 3D Organic Cotton Dimple Fabric (W-231)
Info This fabric contains Ready-AbZORB, a technology we pioneered. It eliminates the need to pre-wash and dry to activate the super absorbency. ...
Zorb® Original Silver Fabric (W-201)
Info This fabric quickly absorbs heavy moisture (in under 2 seconds!) and soaks it up 20 times faster than organic bamboo cotton fabric, cotton ...
Zorb® 3D Stay Dry Dimple LITE Fabric (W-228)
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Zorb® 3D Bamboo Dimple Fabric (W-234)
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Zorb® 3D Organic Cotton Dimple Silver Fabric (W-230)
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Zorb® 3D Stay Dry Dimple Fabric (W-229)
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Zorb® 3D Stay Dry Dimple Heavy Duty Fabric (W-552)
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Zorb® 3d stay dry dimple heavy duty silver fabric (w-551), zorb® 3d bamboo dimple lite silver fabric (w-233), zorb® 3d bamboo dimple silver fabric (w-232).
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Zorb® Microfiber Terry Plus Silver Fabric (W-216)
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Extra inserts for extra absorbency, stop pocket cloth diaper leaking
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A great cloth diaper fit will keep the baby comfortable and help prevent leaks. But you may experience fully saturated diapers if you have a heavy wetter, or if you are using your cloth diaper for extended periods of time such as overnight and for a long car ride. Saturated diapers can lead to leaks if you do not provide additional absorption.
Extra cloth diaper inserts are the best way to add extra absorbency and tackle leaks! Building your cloth diaper and cloth diaper insert stash is a necessary first step. Let’s review when and how to use extra cloth diaper inserts to tackle some of the most common cloth diapering challenges!
How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?
Those that are new to cloth diapering may be wondering where to start with their cloth diaper stash. You may be asking, how many cloth diapers do I need? How many cloth diaper inserts do I need?
Our general rule of thumb is, start small and build .
Especially if you are transitioning from disposables, it can be a bit of an adjustment. Dipping your toe in the cloth diapering pool can be much less intimidating if you have a small stash to work with. Cloth diapering does not have to be all or nothing – many families choose to use a combination of cloth and disposables. It is common to find cloth diapering families that still use disposables with newborns, or for overnight periods, for daycare and for traveling. But when families start to see the benefits of cloth diapering not only to their baby but to their pocket-books, most don’t look back!
When just getting started, we suggest 24 to 36 cloth diapers and inserts for newborns. For older infants, 14 to 24 diapers and inserts should be enough. This is based on the need to change a diaper approximately every 2 hours, and with washing every 2 to 3 days. Washing regularly is strongly recommended to avoid unpleasant odours and residue build-up. If you launder your diapers more frequently, or if you use a combination of disposables and cloth, you can make do with less.
How Many Cloth Diaper Inserts Do I need?
You may be curious how many inserts per cloth diaper you should use. Most pocket and hybrid cloth diapers come with one insert per diaper. Some manufacturers will provide additional inserts when you purchase a set. Building up a stash of extra inserts is strongly recommended to make cloth diapering easier. Adding extra inserts can help you tackle some of the most common cloth diaper challenges, like leaks!
Extra Layers for Extra Absorbency
One of the first and biggest reasons for building your extra cloth diaper insert supply is absorbency. Cloth diapers do not typically leak unless they become fully saturated. If you are struggling with leaks, first make sure that you have the proper fit and that your diapers are repelling due to residue build-up . If you have ruled out these potential causes for cloth diaper leaking, adding extra absorbency is your best bet! You can add extra absorbency to your cloth diapers by either using a more absorbent insert, or doubling up! Here are the inserts and prefolds that we offer, and the differences between each:
Bamboo Inserts - Our Bamboo Inserts are made up of 4 layers. The two exterior layers of the insert are made of Bamboo. The two interior layers of the insert are made of microfibre. (This does not come into contact with your baby’s skin.) Bamboo is not only soft to touch, and will be comfortable against your baby’s skin, but is also absorbent, and will help prevent leaks in your baby’s cloth diaper.
Bamboo Prefolds - Our Bamboo Prefolds are made from a Bamboo Viscose Blend. This insert features two panels of bamboo on each side panel and 4 panels of material in the center. When folded in thirds (13” x 5”), these prefolds give you 8 layers of Bamboo, which means 8 layers of protection against leaks.
Charcoal Bamboo Inserts - Our Charcoal Inserts are made of 5 layers of Bamboo Charcoal. They are our standard size of insert (13” x 5”) and great for overnight use or heavy wetters.
Hemp Prefolds – Our Hemp Prefold is made from a Natural blend of Hemp and Cotton. Our Hemp prefold features two layers of this blend. When folded into thirds, this Hemp Prefold offers 6 Layers of protection against leaks! Hemp cotton is a very absorbent blend of fabric.
It is also important to note that prepping for different insert materials may require more washes for them to reach full absorbency. The amount of time it takes for your inserts to reach adequate absorption is sensitive to detergent , water hardness levels , and the your wash routine .
The extra layers will add the extra absorbency you need to tackle leaks. We suggest using extra layers for overnight periods, for heavy wetters, or for times you just need a little extra protection. This is all explained below.
Overnight Use doubling up on layers for overnight periods can be an easy way to increase absorbency of the diaper. Using our Bamboo Prefolds or folding our Bamboo Microfibre insert and placing it at the front of the diaper can help increase absorbency for belly sleepers, while laying it flat towards the middle and back of the diaper can help with side and back sleepers.
Newborns doubling up on your layers is great for newborns if they aren’t quite filling out the diaper yet. Our Charcoal inserts not only offer 5 layers of protection, but are great for doubling up as well. The extra layers will provide additional bulk and will help get the perfect fit.
Heavy Wetters if you have a heavy wetter, extra cloth diaper inserts can help boost your absorbency on a day-to-day basis. The best cloth diaper inserts for heavy wetters are ones that are made of a highly absorbent natural material, but that also dries quickly and helps keep baby comfortable. Our Hemp Prefolds offer two layers of absorbent Hemp Material, great for heavy wetters.
Boys – little parts require little adjustments, which is why when cloth diapering boys we recommend adding an additional insert folded and placed directly on the diaper, near the top rise that meets the belly. This will add extra protection where it is needed, avoiding leaks.
Tips for Using Extra Inserts:
- Ensure you have the right fit: If you add extra inserts, check your fit. You want to ensure that your cloth diaper fits snuggly against baby’s thighs and waist. You should be able to fit no more than 1 finger between your diaper and baby’s thigh, and no more than 2 fingers between your diaper and baby’s tummy. If the elastic around the thighs is pulled away due to the added bulk of an extra insert, you will get leaks. Consider ‘sizing up’ to ensure you get the right fit. For a detailed guide on getting the prefect fit, check out Get the Perfect Cloth Diaper Fit to Avoid Cloth Diaper Leaks .
- Ensure your cloth diapers are not repelling. If you struggle with leaks even after adding extra cloth diaper inserts, do an absorbency test. Residue build-up on your cloth diapers will cause them to repel and leak. An absorbency test is easy. Simply lay your clean diapers flat and pour a small amount of water on them. Apply a bit of pressure. This water should be absorbed by the insert. If the water does not absorb but rather ‘wicks’ away, you likely have a residue build-up problem. To tackle build-up and repelling, you may want to strip your cloth diapers and start over. Tips for preventing build-up and repelling, and stripping your cloth diapers are found in Washing 101 and Stripping and Restoring your Cloth Diapers .
- Check where your absorbency is needed most. After using your cloth diaper for around 2 hours, or for your overnight stretches, check to see if the diaper absorbency is maxed out. If your cloth diaper insert is fully saturated, adding an extra insert or a more absorbent insert may help tackle leaks. If there are areas that remain dry, then you know where to adjust your fit and focus any extra absorbency needs specifically where baby pees.
- Get a good washing routine. Get your cloth diaper washing routine sorted! You will run into challenges if you are not getting your diapers thoroughly clean. Using too much detergent can lead to build up and repelling. Using too little detergent can also lead to build-up, odours and staining. If you aren’t getting good agitation in your washing machine, or you struggle with hard water, you may also run into challenges. To tackle these issues and get the perfect wash routine, check out Washing 101 , The Best Detergent for Cloth Diapers , and Hard Water and Cloth Diapers .
- Tackle build-up and repelling. One benefit to having a supply of extra cloth diaper inserts is that you have extra inserts on hand when your diapers need a good reset. Sometimes build-up and repelling can happen, and most often its your cloth diaper inserts that need a really thorough washing or stripping – the shells don’t necessarily have the same issues unless you have hard water problems or build-up of stains or diaper rash creams. Having extra inserts on hand will let you focus on stripping your inserts while having an extra supply for your diapering needs.
- Use the right insert. There are a variety of cloth diaper inserts and booster available on the market. We offer both Cloth Diaper Inserts as well as Cloth Diaper Prefolds. All of our inserts and prefolds can be used with both our Pocket Diapers and our Diaper Covers.
Building Your Extra Cloth Diaper Insert Supply
When looking to increase your cloth diaper insert supply, consider inserts that are made of natural materials that absorb moisture while keeping baby comfortable. Bamboo diaper inserts and other bamboo fabrics are popular options for cloth diapers, thanks to their high level of absorbency. Our Hemp and Charcoal inserts and prefolds are also a great option for absorbing moisture and keeping your baby dry and comfortable. Looking to build your collection of cloth diaper inserts? Check out our collection of inserts and prefolds . We offer inserts and prefolds suitable for pocket diapers and/or diaper covers. Find what style insert works best for you and your baby ! For more information, check out these helpful Vlogs:
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Cloth Diapering Fabric in 2023 (Layer-by-Layer Guide)
You may not realize it, but cloth diapers are a lot more complex than they seem on the surface. You are probably aware that there are different styles and look, but did you realize they come in a myriad of fabrics?
Cloth diapering fabric consists of different fibers, textures, and fabric types, as well as different fasteners that go with all of them. This article walks you through the different fabrics, styles, covers, and more that make up the cloth diaper world.
Importance of the Fabric
Waterproof layers, absorbency layers, multipurpose cloth diaper materials, stay dry fabrics, cloth diaper fastener materials.
If you are reading this article, your initial thoughts are likely how important is the type of diaper fabric and does it really matter if I use cotton instead of wool or vice versa? Well, it depends on how you want your cloth diapers to work for you.
Are you looking to go with all-natural materials? Maybe you’re worried your baby will have an allergic reaction to a specific fabric because you do. Perhaps you are only using cloth part-time, or maybe absorbency is your biggest concern.
There isn’t a right or wrong cloth diaper fabric. It will all boil down to what you are looking for in a cloth diaper, your budget, and what is most realistic for you to wash and dry regularly.
The waterproof layers of cloth diapers are commonly made from PUL (polyurethane laminate) and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). The waterproof layers act as a barrier to prevent your baby’s diaper from leaking , which keeps their clothing and your carpets and furniture clean and dry.
All-in-ones , hybrids , and pocket diapers will have this layer on the fabric attached to the absorbency layer. Prefolds and flats will need a separate waterproof later that goes over the top of the diaper.
Because of the resurgence of interest in cloth diapers over the last few decades, waterproof fabrics for diapers are now available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
PUL (polyurethane laminate)
PUL (polyurethane laminate) is made by applying a thin laminate layer of polyurethane onto the fabric. PUL diaper fabric is thin, stretchy, and breathable and is also used to make wet bags.
It is a durable fabric which means it can withstand lots of washing (which is necessary for cloth diapers), and because it is breathable, your baby is less likely to develop diaper rash.
PUL works well as a waterproof diaper fabric because you can also wash it at very high temperatures, and it is easy to find in fabric stores if you are crafty and wish to sew your own diaper covers or wet bags.
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is the laminate layer applied to a fabric to create PUL. TPU in itself is not in itself a waterproof diaper fabric; it is what is bonded with a knit fabric to make a diaper’s fabric waterproof; it’s a little confusing.
TPU is often tossed around as if it were a separate type of material. But, to keep it simple, remember this TPU is what makes PUL diaper fabric.
PUL used to be made using a lot of chemicals which created nasty byproducts for the environment. The good news is that most diaper companies bond TPU to cloth diaper fabrics using a thermal bonding technique.
Fleece is one of the most commonly used diaper fabrics. It is incredibly soft and breathable, making it a great choice if your baby is prone to diaper rash. In addition, fleece is easy to wash and dries quickly.
Fleece is water repellent, so it makes a good diaper cover fabric. However, since it is not technically waterproof, you will need to change your baby’s diaper and cover more often than when using a PUL cover.
A fleece cloth diaper is inexpensive to make, and you can also use the fabric to make a diaper cover that is long like pants, so it doubles as clothing to keep your baby warm.
Wool is one of the best waterproof diaper fabrics available. It is absorbent, breathable, naturally antibacterial, and odor resistant and, when treated with lanolin, becomes waterproof.
The downside to wool is that it is trickier to wash and needs to be re-lanolized regularly. Wool diapers should ideally be washed by hand and laid down flat to dry or hung in the sun.
They also tend to be more costly than the other types of waterproof diapers, but there is a new trend of upcycling old woold sweaters and turning them into diapers that is making more affordable ones available.
How to Choose a Waterproof Layer of Fabric?
The newer way of creating PUL via thermal bonding does make the fabric a little less hearty, but it is by no means flimsy. When purchasing cloth diapers, not all waterproof diaper fabrics are made equally. Check to see where the diapers are manufactured. This is an instance where cheaper is usually not better.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some less costly diapers that are still well made but don’t jump at the first cheap brand you discover. Cheaply made diapers are likely to delaminate quicker than more costly ones. Delmaniation is when a diaper’s materials start to separate, and the TPU layer begins to peel off.
If you want to avoid PUL altogether, then your top two choices are fleece and wool. So, you will need to consider how often you can wash and dry and how much you want to spend on your cloth diapers, as fleece tends to be significantly cheaper than wool.
The absorbent layer is crucial to a cloth diaper’s function. If a diaper’s absorbent material is subpar or you’re not using the right kind, you will experience leaks.
The type of absorbency layer will depend on the style of diaper you chose and whether it is night or day. For example, some absorbent fabric holds more liquid, making it ideal for overnight diapers.
The most common absorbent fabric materials are bamboo, cotton, organic cotton, modal, hemp, and polyester.
There are also different types of absorbent layers, including boosters, liners, inserts, and soakers. The type of insert you use will depend on the style of cloth diaper you have.
Bamboo is a very popular absorbent material for diapers. Bamboo is highly absorbent and is a sustainable resource. In addition, bamboo grows quickly and easily, making it a trendy choice for paper products as well.
Bamboo inserts can be found as reusable, washable pads and as diaper liners that are biodegradable and flushable. Reusable bamboo inserts and diapers are also biodegradable once they have reached the end of their life.
Additionally, bamboo is the best wicking fabric for cloth diapers, breathable and hypoallergenic.
The two main downsides to bamboo diapers are that they are more costly than other cloth diaper materials, and they tend to hold onto stains more.
Cotton cloth diapers are another extremely popular choice. Cotton tends to be the least expensive fabric for cloth diapers and is a very breathable material.
If you choose to use prefolds or flats, cotton baby diapers can be repurposed as burp cloths, towels, and cleaning rags.
Cotton is an environmentally friendly choice because it is 100% biodegradable and all-natural. Cotton diapers are easy to wash and line dry, and because they are inexpensive you can stock up and have plenty on hand.
Because diaper cotton fabric is all-natural there is no chemical smell, and they are absorbent and comfortable for your baby to wear.
Cotton is an extremely popular textile around the world and is often mass-produced on large farms. Organic cotton is not treated with pesticides or other chemicals, and it uses less water to produce, making it an even more eco-friendly choice.
Organic cotton also tends to be a higher quality material and is often used to make high sheets, towels, and bedding.
The cost will be slightly higher than traditional cotton, and it is likely to show wear and tear quicker. Organic cotton is known to contain fewer allergens than regular cotton, so if you or your baby has sensitive skin, organic may be the route to go.
Modal is a fabric made from wood pulp and is similar to bamboo. It is considered a rayon fabric, and it has a very soft silky feel which maintains its softness even after repeated washings. Modal is a very absorbent cloth holding about 50% more liquid than cotton.
Modal is resistant to mineral build-up which can lessen a diaper’s absorbency; this is another reason it makes an excellent choice for cloth diapers. If you have hard water, consider purchasing cloth diapers made from modal to cut the frequency of stripping your diapers down.
Hemp is an excellent natural fiber that is resistant to bacteria growth. Hemp can hold more liquid than cotton, but it is much slower to absorb it; therefore it is common to see hemp combined with another fabric such as cotton.
Hemp has a lower eco-footprint than some of the other materials because it uses fewer resources to produce.
Hemp is a very strong and durable fabric that can extend the life of your diapers. A hemp/cotton blend may be one to consider if you plan on using your diapers for more than one baby.
Polyester is one of the most absorbent fabrics making it one of the best fabrics for cloth diapers. Polyester is man-made, so if you are looking to go all-natural this will not be the route for you.
Polyester is highly durable and can withstand multiple washes. However, it can be prone to build up, which makes it less absorbent. Build-up will result in you needing to strip your diapers to get them back to peak absorbency.
Polyester comes in a variety of forms including zorb, microfiber, and Minky.
Zorb is an absorbent fabric material that was invented in 2007 specifically for cloth diapers.
Zorb is a fabric blend that consists of bamboo, cotton, and polyester. It wicks moisture away quickly, and according to the Wazoodle website , the maker of Zorb, it soaks up wetness twenty times faster than other diaper materials.
You can also use Zorb to make burp cloths, towels, nursing pads and bras, and mattress pad covers. It is probably the most absorbent fabric for cloth diapers on the market.
Microfiber is a synthetic material that is made of strands of thread thinner than silk. Most microfibers are made by combining polyester with polyamide, a synthetic polymer. Because of the way the fabric is constructed, it is highly porous and absorbent.
Microfiber is one of the top absorbent fabrics, but it cannot be placed directly next to your baby’s skin. Microfiber inserts are popular in pocket diapers since the insert slides into a pocket and isn’t directly touching any skin.
Some people also double-layer a microfiber insert with another absorbent layer on top. Doubling up inserts is a popular option for babies who wear cloth diapers overnight.
Minky is an incredibly soft polyester fabric. It has a similar feeling to fleece, but it is softer and thicker.
Minky is commonly used to make baby blankets, clothing, and burp cloths. Minky is also used to make cloth diaper covers because it is soft and absorbent.
The Minky company makes diaper inserts that are commonly used in pocket diapers with brands like Fuzzibuns, but they are microfiber, so they cannot be used without a protective layer. The Minky inserts are not made from the same super soft material as blankets or diaper covers.
Super Soaker Material (SSM)
Super soakers are thick pads or inserts that are placed inside a cloth diaper to help with absorbency. They are most commonly used in pocket diapers but can be placed in any cloth diaper style, especially if the diaper’s material is not naturally super absorbent, such as cotton.
Super soakers come in different lengths and thicknesses and can be made of all of the absorbent materials discussed in the previous section of this article.
It is important to remember that when selecting a super soaker fabric that microfiber cannot be placed directly against your baby’s skin. Therefore, you will need to layer it with another fabric insert such as cotton or bamboo or use them solely in pocket diapers.
How to Choose an Absorbency Layer Fabric?
Choosing the best absorbent fabric for your cloth diapers will depend on your preferences, budget, and how you plan to use cloth diapers.
If your baby will be wearing cloth diapers 24/7, a more budget-friendly option like cotton or bamboo might work best for you. Cotton prefolds and flats require a bit more effort to use but wash easily and dry extremely quickly.
If you have a little more cash to spend and want a designer look, you may opt for diapers made from organic cotton or Minky covers.
If you are ok with a man-made material then Zorb is an excellent choice due to its affordability and super absorbency capability. Adding a zorb or microfiber layer to your baby’s diaper at night can also prevent leaks and make sleeping cozier for your baby.
Some cloth diaper materials can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, many people use the same fabrics to create bibs, changing pads, diaper covers, liners, and burp cloths.
You can repurpose cotton and Zorb, probably the two most widely used diaper materials, several ways. Both of these materials can be used as cleaning cloths and, due to their durability, can withstand repeated washings.
Microfiber super soakers can be resued as dusting pads or as sponges to wash things like your bathtub and shower. Did you know there were so many diaper cloth fabric uses?!
A stay dry to fabric is a fabric that feels mainly dry to the touch even once it has become wet. It is usually a man-made fabric. It works by wicking moisture away from the skin to the fabric’s surface when it then evaporates.
Microfleece, suede cloth, and sherpa are all stay dry fabrics used in the making of cloth diapers.
Because of the renewed interest in cloth diapering, many stay dry fabrics come in fun, child-friendly patterns, and colors. So whether you decide to make cloth diapers yourself or purchase them, you should be able to find a style that fits you!
Microfleece is synthetic wool made from polyester. Microfleece is exceptionally lightweight and tough, making it an excellent choice for cloth diapers. In addition, microfleece is a great choice to help keep your baby’s bottom warm.
Microfleece is an extremely soft and fluffy fabric that will feel gentle to your baby. Microfleece is affordable, water-resistant, and dries very quickly.
You can use microfleece to make both the diaper cover as well as the super soakers and diaper lining. It is a highly versatile fabric when it comes to cloth diapering.
Microfleece is not typically used as an overnight diaper because the stay-dry fabric may not be able to absorb an overnight super pee quickly enough.
Suede cloth is a highly absorbent diaper fabric. One massive benefit of this ultra using the absorbent material in diapers is that it is thick, silky, and doesn’t pill like microfleece. As a result, suede cloth is able to go through dozens and dozens of washes and stay just like new.
It is not recommended that you use suede cloth on its own at night as the stay dry technology may make it less absorbent depending on the baby’s position.
Suede cloth is better than microfleece when it comes to cleaning out older baby poop, but microfleece is easier for exclusively breastfed babies.
Sherpa is a stay-dry fabric that can either be a synthetic blend or made from cotton. Sherpa gets its name because it looks and feels like wool and is named after the Sherpa people from Nepal.
Sherpa is excellent at wicking moisture away and is more lightweight than fleece. Sherpa is also easy to wash and dry, and while it may develop some pilling, it is usually easy to avoid by allowing it to air dry in the sun.
Sherpa is a warm and insulating fabric like fleece, and it provides many of the benefits of wool without actually using actual animal products.
There are neary as many different types of cloth diapers and fabrics as there are different styles of fasteners. Some cloth diapers come with fasteners already built-in, like snaps or velcro. Other diapers will require you to use separate fasteners you attach on your own.
Common diaper fastener materials include hook and loop, snaps, Snappis, and touch tape. Some people still use traditional diaper pins as well, but these have become less popular as there is more potential you could accidentally hurt a squirmy baby during a diaper change.
Hook and Loop
Velcro, Aplix, are Touctaoe are probably the most commonly used hook and loop fasteners in cloth diapers .
A hook and loop fastener uses minuscule hooks (the scratchy or rigid side) and tiny loops (the soft side). When the two sides come into contact with each other, the hooks grab onto the loops securing the two pieces together.
If you are making your own diapers at home, Velcro, Aplix and Touchtape are easy ways to create DIY diaper fasteners with minimum effort.
Aplix sells a wide variety of styles and colors, many of which are resistant to heat, UV, and humidity.
Velcro also sells multiple types of sew-on materials in various widths and colors. Their Soft & Flexible tape is probably the most used for homemade cloth diapers.
Snaps are very common on manufactured cloth diapers and can be found on All-in-ones, Hybrids, or All-in-twos and pocket diapers.
Snaps on cloth diapers are usually made of plastic. They are convenient and easy to use. The one downside to snaps is that they can wear out or break. To help preserve the snaps on your cloth diapers, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for washing and drying.
Drying diapers with snaps in the dryer will wear them down quicker than line drying and reduce the life span of your diapers.
Snappis are a name-brand diaper fastener that has a corner of the market all to itself. Snappis are designed to be used with flat or prefold diapers that are made from thick, woven fabrics. Snappis have small teeth that grip onto the fabric, so they will not work on microfleece or thin, gauzy fabrics.
Snappis are inexpensive and can be purchased from most major retailers that sell baby and diaper supplies. They are much easier to use than diaper pins and much safer for your baby. They may take some practice to get just right but once mastered are quick and easy!
How to Choose a Fastener Material?
Your choice of fastener material is going to depend on the type of diaper you select. If you choose to go with pocket, hybrids, or all-in-ones, they will come with built-in snaps.
If you are making your own diapers or are using prefolds or flats, you can choose from any of the available fasteners. You could even sew on snaps if you have the time, patience, and skill to do so.
Lastly, consider how you will be washing and drying your diapers. If you need to use a dryer for convenience or pure necessity, then Snappis or even traditional diaper pins are probably the best choice since they won’t go in the machine.
Also read : Muslin Fabric: Properties, Pricing & Sustainability
What fabric should I use to make cloth diapers?
You can use various fabrics to make cloth diapers, including cotton, organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, fleece, and wool.
Where can I buy cloth diaper material?
You can purchase cloth diaper material from your local craft or fabric store and many major retailers that sell fabrics online.
What are cloth diapers made of?
Cloth diapers are usually made of a combination of natural and synthetic materials such as wool, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, polyester, fleece, or sherpa.
How to make cloth diapers waterproof?
If using wool, you can lanolize it; otherwise, you can use a PUL fabric or a stay-dry fabric such as microfleece, sue cloth, or sherpa.
What are cloth diaper covers made of?
Diaper covers can be made of various fabrics such as wool, fleece, Minky, or any fabric that has been treated to become PUL.
What is PUL cloth?
PUL is a fabric that has been treated with TPU, a thin, plastic laminate that makes the fabric water-resistant.
What type of fabric is most absorbent?
Zorb is a highly absorbent synthetic fabric. Bamboo and wool are two natural fibers that are very absorbent as well.
Laurel brings her passion for parenting and years of problem-solving experiences to ParentingMode. She is the editor of ParentingMode, ensuring that the content is relevant and valuable to the readers. Laurel received her master’s degree in public administration with a certificate in economic development. She is a stay-at-home mom, raising two adorable kiddos, Aurora and Thomas. Laurel enjoys sharing her experience as a parent, traveling, and good food.
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The BEST Cloth Diaper Inserts – Your Questions Answered!
- Pin It For Later!
Cloth diapers are made of two main parts – the cover or diaper and the cloth diaper insert. I’m explaining all about the absorbent fabrics that are used and how to choose the best cloth diaper inserts for your cloth diapers.
Don’t let cloth diapering overwhelm you. It really is easy and green. If you’re researching how cloth diapers work or how to make them work better for you and your baby, you’re likely either new to cloth diapers OR are having leaking issues. Today, I’m going to help you solve those issues and answer ALL your questions about cloth diaper inserts!
In this post, I will breakdown the different types of diaper inserts and find answers to all your questions like:
- What are the best cloth diaper inserts for heavy wetters?
- What are cloth diaper liners?
- How many cloth diaper inserts do I need?
- Can I use disposable inserts?
Even if you’re a veteran at cloth diapering, it can be overwhelming when you start looking at all of the choices in how to cloth diaper and what type of cloth diapers to use. That’s why I have a whole post dedicated to helping you choose which cloth diapers would be best for your family.
This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I may make a commission. Thank you for your support.
Pocket diapers, Hybrids, and Fitteds & Cloth Diaper Covers all use different cloth diaper inserts and materials.
So, in this post, we’re looking specifically at the different types of cloth diaper inserts, boosters, and diaper liners that are most popular in the cloth diapering world and their purpose and helping you to decide which is the best cloth diaper inserts for your baby and the cloth diapers you are using!
What are cloth diaper inserts?
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with terminology.
Cloth diaper inserts are the part of the diaper that absorbs liquid. They are essentially the “workhorse” of the cloth diaper. For example, a pocket diaper with no insert, well, it wouldn’t do you any good at all because it would essentially just work as a diaper cover.
Cloth diaper inserts usually come with pocket diapers , but they are available to buy individually for extra absorbency.
Cloth Diaper Liners – Boosters – Doublers
While this post is most about cloth diaper inserts, let’s discuss other cloth diaper accessories that you’ll see most associated with cloth diaper inserts.
Cloth diaper inserts can also be referred to as boosters or doublers . Just think of adding an extra insert as in “boosting the absorbency”. Boosters are simply extra cloth diaper inserts, which is why inserts are also sold separately.
Cloth diaper liners sit on the top layer of a diaper and protect your baby’s bottom, as well as the cloth diaper.
Liners are a cloth diapering accessory that have nothing to do with absorbency .
There are 2 different types of Diaper Liners [reusable and disposable] which are primarily used for 3 different reasons:
- Protect your diapers from diaper creams.
- Keep your baby’s skin drier.
- Easy clean-up of diapers [especially useful when traveling with cloth diapers ].
Reusable Diaper Liners : This type of diaper liner is usually made from fleece and can be washed with your diaper laundry [unless they have lots of diaper cream on them, in which case I would suggest washing separately].
You can purchase reusable liners from many cloth diaper stores or simply make your own reusable diaper liners ! Cut up strips of fleece, bought from a craft store, and lay them in your cloth diapers.
If you are concerned about your baby’s skin staying too wet in cloth diapers, you can line them with a fleece reusable diaper liner. The fleece is amazing in that it wicks away moisture, but allows the urine to pass through, keeping their skin completely dry! This is why you’ll most often see pocket cloth diapers made with fleece lining.
Disposable Cloth Diaper Liners: These are very, very thin sheets of liners that are almost like toilet paper sheets. They lay into your diaper the same way as reusable ones, but they are meant to be thrown away. Most are flush-able diaper liners.
+ Even if you’re using cloth diaper safe diaper creams , you may want to use a liner to help protect your diaper from encountering any build-up from the cream.
+ If you’re traveling, don’t have a diaper sprayer, or just don’t like dealing with cleaning dirty cloth diapers – flushable disposable liners [ these are my favorite ] can be your best friend! Simply take out the liner and throw it away or flush! They help minimize cloth diaper stains too!
What are the types of cloth diaper inserts?
Cloth diaper inserts can be made from a variety of materials, to work with any cloth diaper budget . The four most commonly used diaper inserts are: Microfiber, Bamboo, Cotton, and Hemp.
All of these materials are used for different reasons – some absorb fast, some slow; some absorb more, some less.
- Microfiber – This material absorbs liquids fast. It’s cheap and does a great job as a cloth diaper insert, which is why so many manufacturers use it. The downsides of microfiber are: It can’t be put against baby’s skin, it’s known for holding in smells like “microfiber funk”, it can be bulky if you need to add more than 1 insert for a heavy wetter.
- Minky – It’s extremely trim and seems to hold about the same as a microfiber insert that is comparable in size.
- Bamboo – This material is super absorbent and is often used in conjunction with a Hemp Blend. You’ll often see Charcoal Bamboo inserts used in cloth diapering.
- Cotton – Cotton inserts are an excellent choice for anyone, especially if you are a tighter budget as they tend to be less expensive. Cotton does tend to dry stiff if you air dry, but is a relatively good absorbent inserts for the price.
- Hemp – The Cadillac of Inserts – It will hold about 2.5x the amount of a microfiber insert comparable in size and is very trim.
Expert Tip: Everyone always asks my favorite type of cloth diaper insert and I answer quickly… hemp. It just worked the best for my girls and my favorite way to use them was with a thin microfiber insert laid on top of a thin hemp insert inside a pocket diaper.
I have a blog post solely dedicated to the best absorbent materials for cloth diapers in case you want to try to make your own too!
Inserts can go in the pocket of a diaper or lay in a cover and sit directly against baby’s skin – EXCEPT FOR MICROFIBER. Microfiber should never be placed directly against your baby’s bottom . It pulls in moisture and could dry out your child’s skin.
So that leads us to everyone’s question – what are the best cloth diaper inserts?
As you can imagine, this question doesn’t have a straightforward answer because the answer will vary greatly depending on your baby, your current cloth diapers, and your budget.
If you had an unlimited budget, I would highly recommend trim microfiber inserts like the ones that come with Fuzzibunz or bumgenius pocket diapers. Along with some fantastic hemp inserts . These are the absolute best cloth diaper inserts, in my opinion.
That combination will keep you from having leaking cloth diapers for hours during the day and can probably last all night with a child who isn’t a heavy wetter.
Some of the best cloth diapers to use for heavy wetters during the day are all in two diapers because you can easily add more extra inserts to increase absorbency. You can also reuse the waterproof cover a couple of extra times during the day so you aren’t spending as much money on extra covers.
If you have a heavy wetter at night, I’d definitely recommend researching wool covers. I have a whole post all about how to use wool with cloth diapers and what saved cloth diapering at night for my girls. My favorite combination for nighttime was a fitted cloth diaper with a hemp insert and a wool cover – bulletproof!
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Cloth Diaper Inserts
I think I’ve covered just about everything there is to know about cloth diaper inserts, including the what I think are the best cloth diaper inserts to use for heavy wetters and different types of diapers to increase absorbency.
If you have any other questions, be sure to leave a comment and I’ll add on to this post!
+ Are there any special rules to prep inserts?
Microfiber and minky cloth diaper inserts need to be washed only once and they’re ready to use. Any organic/natural fibers like bamboo, organic cotton, and hemp need to be washed a minimum of 4 times to begin absorbing and will reach maximum absorbency by about 10 washes.
Some say that you can boil your natural fibers instead of washing them so many times. The main consensus is to boil for about 15 minutes – but make sure you’re not boiling anything with snaps! This will definitely cause damage to them! I wrote more about prepping cloth diapers and inserts here.
+ Why should I invest in hemp diaper inserts?
If you have a heavy wetter, if you have an older child/toddler in diapers, or if you plan/do use cloth diapers at night – you’re definitely going to want to have hemp inserts on hand.
They absorb a ton and are relatively trim, so you’re not stuffing your child’s diaper so full that they can’t move! You can read more about my favorite hemp inserts here.
+ If I want to layer my inserts, what’s the best order?
If you’re layering and using microfiber in your mixture, definitely put it on top. Microfiber absorbs the quickest so it will pull the urine down the fastest. I always layer microfiber and then hemp underneath.
But remember – microfiber cannot touch your baby’s skin directly or it can cause skin irritation. There is no problem to using hemp or another natural fiber as the top layer, but be aware if you are having leak issues make sure the legs of your child’s cloth diaper are pulled tight enough.
+ I’m on a budget – what are my best options?
I love this post about low-cost cloth diaper inserts and alternatives you can use to traditional cloth diaper inserts. She suggests using flour sack towels and even cut up t-shirts to save money.
Wednesday 4th of January 2023
Are all inserts interchangeable between cloth diaper covers? All the rest of the info was super! Thank you!
Thursday 5th of January 2023
Not always because of fit - some are wider, longer, etc. But as long as they "fit" and are the correct material, you can use any insert with any diaper cover. I hope that makes sense!
Wednesday 5th of October 2016
Hi, do I change the actually diaper every time? Or do I simply change the liner and or the insert?
Thursday 6th of October 2016
Hi Jamisa! It definitely depends on the type of diaper you're using, as well as how dirty/wet the liner/insert gets. If you're using something like an insert inside of a cover and the cover doesn't get soiled, it would be fine to re-use a couple of times during the day. Hope that helps!
Tuesday 13th of September 2016
Do you need the liners as well as the inserts for cloth diapers?
Liners are definitely NOT required for cloth diapers, but are mainly used for 2 reasons. If you use a fleece liner, it can help keep your babies bottom a little more dry since the fleece wicks away moisture. If you're diaper has a fleece lining already, this isn't really needed. The second reason many use liners is to help keep stains away. If you use a disposable liner, it makes cleanup easier [love these when traveling] and a reusable liner may get stained, but they're way cheaper to replace than an entire diaper. Hope that helps!
Money saving tip #1: Cloth diapering – Attached Mommies
Saturday 3rd of September 2016
[…] you can fold another shirt, washcloth, recieving blanket and the like into what’s called an insert to line your […]
Best Cloth Diapers for New Parents
Tuesday 30th of August 2016
[…] Cloth Diaper Inserts and Liners FAQs […]
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Cloth Diaper Fabrics Explained
June 22, 2016
With the wonderful world of modern cloth diapers comes a wide selection of technical and speciality fabrics used for specific purposes in cloth diapers. Whether you want to sew your own or just make an informed choice of the best options for you in ready made diapers, this guide will help you understand the fabrics most commonly used.
Cloth diaper fabrics can be divided into three main categories; absorbent fabrics, stay-dry or wicking fabrics and waterproof or water-resistant fabrics.
Absorbent Fabrics These are the fabrics that absorb the moisture and hold the wee in a diaper. It is an essential part on any cloth diaper as without it, the diaper cannot perform its purpose. Some commonly used absorbent fabrics in cloth diapers are;
Cotton Cotton is probably the most easily available fabric and can be found in most fabric stores. Recommended cotton fabrics for use in cloth diapers include cotton fleece, flannel and terry (toweling). Cotton is relatively inexpensive, durable and a good choice for beginner sewers.
Hemp Hemp is the ultimate in absorbent fabrics as it can hold a lot of moisture while staying trim. While hemp is the most absorbent choice in fabric, it is often blended with cotton to give it a softer feel. It is a good fabric to use if you need maximum absorbency such as night time diapers or for heavy wetters.
Microfiber Microfiber is different from the other absorbent fabrics as it is a man-made fiber. While it is a very fast absorber, microfibre tends to act like a sponge, so if very full, can be prone to compression leaks and is best used paired with another natural fibre absorbent fabric.
Bamboo Bamboo is also a great choice in cloth diapers as it is very thirsty and stays soft after many washes. Bamboo often comes in the form of fleece, velour or terry (toweling).
Stay-dry and wicking fabrics These fabrics are usually used inside diapers to provide a stay-dry feel. They can be especially useful for babies prone to diaper rashes due to wetness, and are used as either a diaper lining or a seperate liner placed against baby’s bum. Because they are not absorbent, they allow moisture to wick through to the absorbent parts while keeping moisture away from the skin.
Suedecloth/brushed polyester Suedecloth an affordable choice of stay-dry fabric and also very easy to sew. It usually has one brushed side and one smooth side. The soft brushed side goes against the skin. This fabric is most commonly used in pocket style diapers.
Microfleece Microfleece is very soft and has a luxurious feeling. It is the most commonly used fabric for washable diaper liners, and can also be used to line the inside of the diaper.
Athletic Wicking Jersey
Athletic Wicking Jersey (AWJ) is a 100% polyester fabric that is often used in sports clothing. It rapidly wicks moisture away from the skin and allows for a cool, comfortable feel. This fabric is usually lightweight and ideal for wear in hotter climates as it feels cooler than microfleece and suedecloth.
Waterproof and water-resistant fabrics These fabrics are worn around the outside of a diaper to keep moisture inside and prevent leaking. They can be sewn into a diaper as in an all-in-one style, or can be used for making a seperate cover to be worn over a fully absorbent diaper.
TPU/PUL These are breathable waterproof fabrics used in most modern cloth diapers. They often consist of a polyester or synthetic base fabric. A waterproof poyurethane membrane is bonded to the base fabric using a heat bonding method (TPU) or chemical bonding method (PUL). These fabrics require special care as they can delaminate or get damaged if not cared for properly.
Polar Fleece This 100% polyester fabric is water repellant, meaning it will repel water back into a diaper and keep the outside dry. While it is a more breathable option than PUL/TPU, moisture can eventually leak through if the diaper underneath gets saturated.
Wool Wool is a popular choice for overnight use in cover as it is very breathable. Similar to polar fleece, it is also water repellant but needs to be lanolised (process of coating the wool with lanolin) in order for it to keep it’s water repellent properties.
Softshell is a term for a variety of fleeces traditionally designed for outdoor clothing. It is usually more dense than polar fleece and typically offers better moisture protection than traditional polar fleece. Some softshell fabrics have a hidden breathable polyurethane layer inside making it waterproof. The breathability and water-resistance or waterproof properties vary between different makes of this relatively new technology fabric.
About the author : Elmarie Robson
Hi,where do i find this PUL/TPU fabric in south africa,pretoria?
Hi Cindy, you can purchase the fabric from our online store minimatters.co.za and we will deliver it to your door. Feel free to drop us a mail at [email protected] if you need help.
Hi Elmarie- are there any of the natural fibres that act as a stay dry fabric? Or as close as one can get? Thanks!
All natural fabrics hold onto moisture so do not act as stay dry fabrics. I have found fabrics with a brushed finish don’t feel as wet on the brushed side, like Brushed Cotton Fleece https://minimatters.co.za/shop/brushed-fleece-100-cotton/ But this will not be as effective as polyester stay dry fabrics.
I am trying to make breast pads my daughter who’s going to breastfeed. After reading so many different ideas , I’m more confused now . Please wish fabric should be against her skin?
Hi Linda, you can’t go wrong with Hemp Fleece, and a waterproof PUL backing. https://minimatters.co.za/shop/hemp-winter-weight-organic-fleece/
I am planning to sew my first cloth diaper and was wondering if you could help me figure out what fabric is used for this brand: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0OGOLO/ref=twister_B071DGQQPB?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
Is the inner lining microfleece? I prefer to use the same one by “Nooya”…
Please advise, G
This style of diaper is usually lined with suedecloth https://minimatters.co.za/shop/white-stay-dry-fabric/
For diaper inserts can I use an old pair of kids pj pants 100% polyester ??
No, polyester fabric is not absorbent. You need to use cotton, hemp or bamboo.
Think I should rathter ask on this debate
What is difference between cotton fleece? cotton terry/french terry? and the hemp fleece and hemp jersey? Want to use as flats and later on to stuff pockets!! What will be the best option?
I am using some bamboo terry at the moment
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If there is a very absorbent diaper underneath, fleece can be an incredibly successful fabric as a cover for diapers since it is so water resistant, yet porous
You should use a barrier, such as fleece liners, between a microfiber insert and your baby's skin, because microfiber can dry out and irritate their sensitive
Microfiber is the polyester fabric most commonly used in the absorbent parts of diapers. I've written a whole article about the pros and cons of
Most families can easily use microfiber throughout their cloth diapering journey. Cotton is incredibly under-rated and can be layered to work
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Buy Fasoar Cloth Diapers Prefold Covers 6 Pack - 6 ply 100% Unbleached Cotton, Thick Washable Absorbent Diaper Covers for Babies and Toddlers Multi-Use
6 Ply Cloth Diapers Burp Cloth, Fasoar Thick Washable Absorbent Cotton Diaper for Babies and · Gerber Prefold Gauze Diaper, White, 5 Count · Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply
Super soakers are thick pads or inserts that are placed inside a cloth diaper to help with absorbency. They are most commonly used in pocket
Cloth diaper liners sit on the top layer of a diaper and protect your baby's bottom, as well as the cloth diaper. Liners are a cloth diapering accessory that
Hemp is the ultimate in absorbent fabrics as it can hold a lot of moisture while staying trim. While hemp is the most absorbent choice in fabric, it is often