Nowadays, diapers are made from a wide range of materials, including but not limited to cotton, hemp, bamboo, and microfiber. The type of diaper you use is usually a matter of personal preference. However, some parents find that certain types actually work better for their babies than others.
Whether you're a new parent searching for the best diapers for your baby or simply want to switch to a new material, it's important to know about the type of diaper fabrics used in cloth diapers.
Which cloth diapering fabric is most suitable for your baby? Are they all sustainable? Here's a guide on pretty much every type of diaper fabric used for making cloth diapers.
What Are Cloth Diapers Made Of?
Most cloth diapers are made of natural cotton, bamboo, and wool fibers. Some are also made of synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon.
Natural fibers are generally more breathable than synthetic fibers and can be less irritating to your baby's skin. However, they may not be as waterproof as synthetic fibers.
When choosing a cloth diaper, you'll also need to decide between a pre-fold, fitted, or flat diaper paired with aby diaper cover or the newborn diaper cover, or a complete system like an all-in-one (AIO) or all-in-two diaper.
Prefold diapers are made of several layers of fabric that you fold and fasten around your baby, while prefold and flat diapers require some folding. But all three are then covered with a waterproof diaper cover. All-in-one diapers have a waterproof outer layer and a built-in absorbent liner, while all-in-two diapers have a custom made removable inner absorbent layer.
Parents should consider investing in cloth diapering packages once they’ve worked out a fabric combination that really works for them.
Layers of a Cloth Diaper
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of cloth diaper fabric, let's first look at the layers that make up a typical cloth diaper.
The absorbent layer is obviously responsible for absorbing wetness and keeping your baby's skin dry. The most popular materials used for this layer are microfiber and bamboo.
Microfiber is a synthetic material that is highly absorbent, and is often used in pre-fold and insert-style diapers. On the other hand, bamboo is a natural fiber that’s popular in fitted or all-in-one diapers.
The waterproof layer is the final line of defense, there to keep everything in and prevent leaking mishaps. It can be made from various materials, but the most common ones are polyurethane laminate (PUL) and nylon.
Cloth Diapering Fabric for the Absorbent Layer
The absorbent layer in a diaper acts as a buffer between the baby and the waterproof layer. It is typically made from a cotton-polyester blend, although other natural fibers such as hemp or bamboo are ideal for homemade diapers.
Since the layer is in direct contact with your baby's skin, it’s crucial to ascertain the best cloth diaper inserts. Here are some options:
Bamboo, being sustainable, eco-friendly, and durable, is an excellent material for diapers.
It is also super absorbent, making it ideal for use in cloth diapers. Additionally, it is very breathable, keeping your baby comfortable throughout the day. The material is also hypoallergenic, which is important for those with sensitive skin.
Hypoallergenic means that a material has very few, if any, of the protein molecules that can cause an allergic reaction. These materials are often used in medical settings because they reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
The downside to using bamboo as a cloth diaper material is that it holds stains. It's also more expensive than other fabrics.
Nowadays, hemp is becoming more and more popular, due to its many uses.
Hemp can be used for food, fuel, fiber, and much more. Most industry experts call it a “super crop” because of its versatility.
Hemp is also environmentally friendly, requiring no pesticides or herbicides to grow. Due to its minimal eco-footprint, hemp is a sustainable crop that can help us reduce our reliance on harmful chemicals and help heal the planet.
It is also a perfect cloth diaper material since it is incredibly durable and very absorbent. A cotton and hemp blend is a great combination that provides the steady absorption of cotton and a high total amount of liquid held by the hemp fibers.
Traditionally, cotton was the go-to cloth diaper material. It is highly absorbent and can hold a good amount of moisture without feeling wet. Moreover, cotton is breathable, keeping your baby comfortable in hot weather. It is also hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin, all great cloth diaper properties.
If you want to buy overnight cloth diapers, look for the ones with a cotton or bamboo insert. In addition, you can add an infant or a preemie prefold inside a larger size pre-fold for extra absorbency.
Since it's biodegradable, cotton is environment-friendly and all-natural. Cotton diapers are also very easy to wash. The only downside to using cotton is that it is not as durable as other materials and may require more frequent changing.
Modal is made using wood pulp and resembles bamboo. The material has a soft feel to it and is very absorbent. In fact, it can hold 50% more liquid than cotton.
Like bamboo, modal is also eco-friendly and hypoallergenic. It is very breathable and can keep your baby comfortable. Additionally, it doesn't hold stains as much as cotton does.
Polyester boasts high absorbency, making it ideal for use in activewear and other garments that might see a lot of sweat. It's also wrinkle-resistant and dries quickly, which is why it's often used in travel clothing.
It is also commonly used as a cloth diapering fabric since it can withstand plenty of washes.
Polyester is a durable fabric, but it can pill easily (those pesky little balls of fabric that form on the fabric's surface after wear and washing).
Try microfiber polyester if you're looking for a polyester cloth diaper less likely to pill. This type of polyester is thinner and smoother than regular polyester. Other types include Minky and Zorb.
Cloth Diapering Fabric for the Waterproof Layer
The fabric for the waterproof layer of a diaper should be able to prevent leakages. Plus, the fabric should be comfortable for a baby's skin. There are a few materials that can make good waterproof layers for diapers, such as:
Fleece has some excellent cloth diaper properties. It is exceptionally breathable and soft, making it a cozy choice of fabric for clothing. It is also very durable and can be easily washed.
Fleece is often used in sportswear because it insulates well and wicks moisture away from the body, keeping the wearer warm and dry. It can be made from various fibers, including recycled plastics like polyester.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly cloth diaper material, fleece is a suitable option since it's inexpensive. Plus, it keeps your little one warm.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
Thermoplastic polyurethane is a type of polyurethane plastic that has many great properties, including flexibility, abrasion resistance, and transparency. It is frequently used in medical devices, such as catheters and blood bags. It is also used to make consumer products, like cell phone cases and sports equipment.
TPU is not waterproof in and of itself. Instead, it has to be sewn into a knit fabric to make the diaper waterproof.
Wool is an odor-resistant, water-repellent natural fiber that can be spun into yarn or fabric. It's often used in winter clothing because it provides excellent insulation. Wool is also used to make carpets, rugs, and other textiles. There are many different types of wool, including merino and cashmere.
Plus, this cloth diaper material prevents odor from spreading around your house, making wool diaper covers an amazing option. . It will also keep your baby comfortable and warm in winter.
Wool makes an excellent diaper fabric since it can be made waterproof by treating it with lanolin. The downside to wool is that it's a bit tricky to wash. Plus, it needs to be re-lanolized from time to time.
Polyurethane Laminate (PUL)
Polyurethane laminate is coated with a thin layer of polyurethane. The material makes it waterproof and stain-resistant.
It is often used to make diaper covers, wet bags, bibs, and changing pads. PUL can also be used to make clothing, such as skirts and dresses.
How to Make Cloth Diapers Last Longer
Cloth diapers are a great way to save money, but you’ll still want to ensure they last as long as possible. So here are a few tips to help you get the most out of these diapers:
- Wash them in cool or warm water. Hot water will break down the materials quicker.
- Use a mild cloth diaper detergent. If you use harsh detergents, they will reduce the number of washings the diaper fabric can withstand. Plus, they can also cause health problems for your baby.
- Avoid using fabric softeners, as they can also break down the materials.
- Line dry or air fluff them in the dryer.
- If you use a diaper pail, ensure it has a tight-fitting lid to keep moisture contained.
Cloth Diapers: Where To Buy?
It's important to consider your cloth diaper suppliers before you buy a starter pack for your little one. You want to make sure you’re buying well-made diapers from someone that stands behind their products and stands beside parents trying to make the right decisions for their little ones. For one, you want the diaper to be highly absorbent and waterproof. The cloth diapering fabric should be comfortable and non-irritant on your baby's skin.
Diapers made of bamboo, hemp, cotton, and microfiber are typically long-lasting and keep your baby comfortable. However, it can be quite a hassle to go to different stores to find a decent variety of diapers.
Luckily, you can select the best diapers for your baby from Nicki’s Diapers. Besides being super comfy and providing several fabric options, we offer great prices and free shipping at only $10, keeping you and your baby happy.