Exploring cloth diaper materials

December 2nd, 2014 by Jamie Benson

There are a wide variety of materials, often used in combination, to create the absorbency layers of cloth diapers.

Let’s explore the most common cloth diaper materials…


Bamboo fiber is a very absorbent material and naturally resistant to bacterial growth. The bamboo plant is incredibly fast growing and is therefore often farmed with little negative impact on the surrounding ecology. However, the process of converting bamboo wood into the soft and absorbent fiber that is found in diapers is an incredibly harsh chemical process that has very negative environmental impacts.



Cotton is absorbent and is very popular in cloth diapers. However, the idea that cotton diapers are ‘natural’ is misleading. Large quantities of chemicals, water and energy are required to prepare and then dye cotton fabric. Cotton also requires enormous amounts of pesticides and water to grow. In addition, the cotton industry uses GMO cottons that are harmful to the environment.  Consider non-bleached and organic cotton diapers.



Hemp is a natural fiber that is more hydroscopic than cotton and naturally resistant to bacterial growth. Hemp materials are quite thin while still absorbent, but they do not absorb as quickly as cotton or polyester. For this reason, in diapers, hemp fabric is often paired with another absorbent fiber, such as in a hemp/cotton blend.



Microfiber is a term used to describe a very fine weave in polyester fabric, that weighs less than one denier per filament. Seen in the cloth diaper industry as Microfleece and Microterry. Unlike cotton, no pesticides are used in microfiber production and no water is contaminated for dyeing.

Microfleece is a common diapering fiber used 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.



Microterry is the fluffy fabric that is used to make soaker pads and diaper inserts. It looks like a towel and is made of polyester with a microfiber weave. Microterry is 4 times more absorbent than cotton.


Wonderwear cloth diapers combine a microfleece inner layer with a cotton interior pad to draw wetness and bacteria away from baby’s sensitive skin. The microterry outer layer is super absorbent to keep your baby dryer than any other cloth diaper. This stay dry design reduces diaper rash and helps your baby sleep through the night.

microfiber vs cotton fiber cloth diapers

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