What's Inside a Cloth Diaper?
With cloth diapering you can 100% customize your diapering experience. You can choose cute covers, and "make your own" diaper by selecting the liner and boosters you use for the inside.
And I'm not talking about the brands you choose, in this case I'm talking about the fabric. You have many options to choose from, bamboo, hemp, organic cotton. Let's look at the pros and cons of each, so you can choose what's right for you and customize your own diapers!
Organic cotton twill!
- Absorbency:Organic cotton is highly absorbent, meaning it can hold a lot of moisture without leaking.
- Breathable: Organic cotton inserts are breathable, which helps keep your baby's skin dry and rash free.
- Durability:Organic cotton is a strong and durable material that can withstand multiple washes and uses. This makes organic cotton inserts a cost-effective choice in the long run.
- Sustainability: Organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals, making it a safer and more sustainable choice for the environment. But growing cotton uses an enormous amount of water. There are also ethical concerns about the labour practices used int he cotton industry.
Pros:easy to find; inexpensive; soft; quick drying
Cons: bulky; not the most absorbent
- Antibacterial: No.
- Easy to find
- Quick drying
- Absorb quickly
- Cotton is a fabric commonly used in clothing and less chance of an allergic reaction.
- There’s more absorbent fabrics out there
- Does not wick moisture away from the skin
- No antibacterial qualities
- Not good for nighttime diapering
Bamboo Cotton Blend
- Absorbency: Bamboo is highly absorbent, so it can hold much moisture without leaking. diapers made from this material are often more flexible, and maintain a good seal. But Bamboo Absorbs more slowly than cotton, which is why it is often made as a bamboo cotton blend.
- Breathable: bamboo has the distinction of being one of the best wicking fabrics available. Bamboo reduces the risk of bacteria growth because of its breathability. This means that the material allows air circulation, which reduces the temperature inside the diaper. This helps little bums stay cooler in the warmer months.
- Durability: Bamboo inserts are prone to shrinking. I haven’t come across any evidence that bamboo inserts wear out faster than other fabrics, but none of the diaper blogs I read, use the word “durable: to describe bamboo.
- Sustainability: There is some debate about Bamboo fabric's sustainability. On the one hand you read that Bamboo is 100% sustainable and biodegradable. Whether rayon made from bamboo can be considered a natural fibre is debatable (source). Or, you read that Bamboo’s growing process is a sustainable one, but the process of weaving it into a fabric is chemically intense and causes it to lose its ability to be biodegradable (source). Only time will tell as more studies are done.
Pros: extremely absorbent; holds onto liquid, choose bamboo rayon for softness,
Cons: slow to soak up liquid (why it’s often blended with cotton); slow to dry; expensive
- Antibacterial: “The U.S. FTC says bamboo rayon fabric does not have antibacterial qualities as often marketed, while many manufacturers continue to claim antibacterial properties and testing that proves it. The legal battles are still underway, so it’s fair to be skeptical of both claims for now.”
- soft to the touch in the product,
- renewable fiber,
- lower impact than petroleum-based fibers,
- easy to grow in the field,
- can be made in a closed system to reduce environmental impact
- often greenwashed in deceptive marketing,
- chemically processed to create rayon,
- environmental injustices in meeting the recent demand,
- more sensitive fiber than cotton or hemp to detergent chemicals and drying heat of cloth diaper laundry,
- many manufacturers recommend line drying to avoid dryer heat,
- can be damaged by some basic laundry detergent ingredients (like baking soda)
Hemp cotton blend
- Absorbency:hemp is 3x more absorbent than cotton alone. This makes for an unbeatable leak-free system when paired with a quality diaper cover. Often Hemp is blended with cotton, so you’re getting the advantage of an absorbent hemp with a quick absorbing cotton blend. Hemp is slow at absorbing fluids.
- Breathable: while hemp is absorbent, it will also feel wet to the touch.
- Durability: Because of it’s super absorbency it can be trickier to wash. hemp does have a longer drying time than microfiber or cotton. It has also been known to hold smells if not washed and dried properly. Rated as extremely durable.
- Sustainability: using hemp, instead of cotton, really is better for the environment. Hemp does not deplete the soil; in fact hemp leaves return nitrogen back to the soil, which improves soil fertility, therefore requiring less fertilizer for subsequent rotated crops. Bamboo and hemp are both woody plants that grow easily without the kind of chemical inputs (pesticides, fungicides) and the heavy watering needed by cotton
Pros:extremely absorbent; holds onto liquid, choose hemp for environment
Cons: slow to soak up liquid; slow to dry; build-up smells; expensive
- Antimicrobial: Hemp fiber’s bioactive compounds, like cannabinoids and alkaloids, are effective against a range of harmful bacteria which cause rashes and discomfort for your baby and which cause an unpleasant odour in your inserts. Source (https://www.kangacare.com/en-ca/blogs/news/hemp-cloth-diaper-inserts-best-for-absorbency)
- very absorbent in the product,
- renewable fiber,
- lower impact than petroleum-based fibers and other plant-based fibers (cotton and bamboo),
- easy to grow in the field
- stiffer to the touch than bamboo rayon or cotton,
- so absorbent that it can retain stink in diapers if not rinsed properly,
- needs more water in laundry process,
- can be difficult to maintain in HE (high efficiency) washer
There is no one "right" choice when it comes to what you put inside your cloth diapers. And what worked for me, might not work for you.