This series is intended to simplify the vast amount of information available on cloth diapers. Cloth diapering “newbies” may be overwhelmed at first, but cloth diapers really are easy! Did you miss the other posts in this series? Read part one here. Read part two here.
Fabric OptionsThe options seem unlimited in this category of cloth diapering. It may seem complicated and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! I am by no means a textile expert, but I do know a little bit about cloth diapers!
Microfiber: This seems to be the first choice in many diapers. Microfiber is a synthetic blend. It is highly absorbent, and it absorbs very quickly. Many diapers, such as FuzziBunz, Rumparooz, and bumGenius come with a microfiber insert. Microfiber is usually used as an insert, and does not come into direct contact with the baby’s skin.
Pros: Very absorbent, and can also be very trim. Dries quickly.
Cons: Because of the “micro” part of the fiber, stink and residue can become easily trapped. There is a process called stripping that removes this residue and build-up and returns to microfiber to its original condition. I have found that HE washers and hard water are the primary culprits for causing microfiber to have buildup, but your laundry detergent can also cause problems. (Don’t worry about it until it happens…I have only stripped my diapers once in over a year. Read more about stripping here.)
Cotton: We are all very familiar with cotton! It is breathable, absorbent, and easy to care for. The most widely used cotton diapers are pre-folds. Cotton is a natural fiber. Some WAHM diapers use recycled t-shirts as the soaker – these are cotton also.
Pros: Cotton is highly absorbent and easy to care for.
Cons: It is not stay-dry, so you may want to use a liner if you choose cotton diapers. However, cotton is a natural fiber, so it is still soft on baby’s skin.
Examples: Prefold diapers
Organic Cotton: Some people prefer that only organic fibers lay against their baby’s skin. Organic cotton has been grown without pesticides. It is usually super soft and super absorbent.
Pros: Organic fabric, natural fiber. It is soft and absorbent. Though it is not stay-dry, you don’t need a liner.
Cons: The organic products that I have used require a longer drying time. To get an organic product you must pay a higher price.
Bamboo: Bamboo is an excellent choice for cloth diapers, and “going green.” It is a sustainable fiber source – bamboo grows quickly and requires little irrigation, making it easily renewable. The fibers are made from the extracted pulp of the bamboo plant. Bamboo is up to 60% more absorbent than cotton, and it is luxuriously soft.
The Doopsy insert is a bamboo blend with a bamboo hemp booster.
Pros: Softness, absorbency. Bamboo is an excellent choice for heavy wetters or night time use.
Cons: Usually bamboo is a fitted diaper or insert, so you will likely need a diaper cover or pocket diaper to stuff it in. Bamboo can be a little more pricey
Hemp: Hemp fibers are strong and grow quickly. They are usually very coarse, but processing methods allow it to be softened into a wearable fabric. There are several characteristics of hemp – it is strong, durable, and absorbent. Hemp requires no pesticides to farm and it doesn't deplete soil like cotton. It also has natural anti-microbial properties, which may aid in deterring mold, bacteria, and fungus.
Pros: Hemp is very absorbent, just like bamboo. Sometimes hemp is blended with organic cotton or bamboo for even more absorbency. These blends are a little softer.
Cons: Hemp is very rough, even when it is softened. I don’t like to put hemp next to my baby’s skin, so I don’t like hemp prefolds. However, a hemp insert or booster is an excellent choice!
Polar Fleece, Micro-Fleece or Micro-Suede: These fabrics are usually used as the lining in a pocket diaper. They wick moisture. These fabrics are not only soft when placed next to the baby’s skin, but they move the moisture quickly into the soaker or insert beneath. This keeps baby dry and happy.
Pros: Baby stays dry and rash is kept at bay. Soft against baby’s skin. Micro-suede seems easier to spray poo off of rather than fleece. Quick drying!
Cons: Fleece may pill slightly but it doesn’t affect performance.
Wool: Wool diaper covers are a great option for several reasons. Wool is soft, absorbent, and naturally anti-fungal. It is also highly breathable. If your baby is prone to diaper rash, or just has a bad rash, wool is a good option. It allows the baby’s skin to breathe while still providing a waterproof outer layer. Wool also absorbs any excess moisture from the diaper. Wool covers may sometimes be referred to as shorties (they look like shorts) or longies (they look like pants).
Pros: Wool doesn’t have to be washed as often because of its high absorbency. It is soft and breathable. It is a natural fiber.
Cons: Wool does to be lanolized sometimes in order to help maintain waterproof properties. This is an extra step. It can be more expensive to purchase.