One of the important things to know when shopping for cloth diapers is what fabric it is made of. Different fabrics have different absorbency levels and other characteristics, like care instructions and whether or not they feel dry to the touch when the diaper is wet. But who really knows the difference between a hemp/cotton blend fleece and a bamboo french terry? Read on!
The first thing to remember is that the name of a fabric will contain two words. The first word refers to what fiber the fabric is made of, like cotton, polyester, silk, wool, etc. The second word describes what has been done to the fiber, how it was woven or knitted. You need to know both pieces of information to figure out what the fabric will feel like in your hand.
For example, polyester fleece is made from polyester and has a thick, fluffy, stretchy texture. There is also cotton fleece, bamboo fleece, and hemp fleece. (All three of these are absorbent and used for inner diaper materials, polyester fleece is not absorbent and depending on the thickness can be used for a stay-dry liner against the baby’s skin or a water resistant diaper cover.)
We’ll go over absorbent fabrics today, and save the waterproof fabrics for another day.
Diaper Twill, flannel: Woven, non-stretchy cotton fabrics. They are relatively thin, but usually are layered together to make absorbency. Prefolds are made from diaper twill, which is also used inside some fitted and all-in-one diapers.
Terrycloth: towel-like texture. Regular terrycloth is not used often in diapers, usually it is french terry or burley knit terry. French terry is knit (stretchy) and has tiny terrycloth loops on only one side. Burley knit terry is like a very thick, chunky french terry.
*Microfiber terry is a terrycloth made from polyester microfiber. It is very popular for pocket diaper inserts, but should not be used directly against the baby’s skin.
Sherpa: Kind of a cross between a knit terry and a fleece, sherpa is burley knit terry that has been brushed to cause the loops to puff out, fluff up, and get softer. It is used mainly in fitted diapers and cloth wipes, chosen for it’s great texture that is soft, yet absorbs very quickly because of the large surface area. Happy Hempy’s fitted diapers are made from sherpa.
Fleece: A fuzzy, thick fabric, very similar to the inside of a new sweatshirt. Some fleece is only fuzzy on one side, like a sweatshirt, but other kinds are thicker and fuzzy on both sides. Babykicks hemp prefolds are made from hemp fleece; Tiny Tush Deluxe cloth wipes are made from cotton fleece.
Jersey and Interlock: t-shirt fabric. Jersey is thinner while interlock is thicker and generally softer. BumGenius one-size Elemental diaper has organic cotton interlock on the inside.
Velour: like velvet with a stretch. Bamboo velour is very popular.