Absorbent Fabrics

Nappy Fabric Types

Today we are lucky to have a huge selection of fabrics available to us for nappies. Each fabric has its own features and benefits. I am of the belief that fabric is one of the most important aspects of your chosen nappy system.

Below I have outlined the four most common nappy fabrics and what their main features are.
 

Cotton - The all round performer

Durable

Drys reasonable fast

Great for night-time and heavy wetters

Will biodegrade in a compost bin or Worm Farm when finished with

  • As a naturally occurring cellulose cotton has been used for centuries. It makes excellent nappies due to its absorbent nature. Cotton is one of the most durable fabrics and dries in a reasonable time. Cotton nappies can come in many different fabric variations like toweling, twill, cotton velour just to name a few.

I rate cotton and bamboo as the the best night-time nappy fabrics available.  They will always out preform microfibre because the fabric retains the liquid where as microfibre released liquid when under pressure.
 

Bamboo - Slim fit, Anti-Bacterial and silky soft

Trim Fitting

Takes longer to dry

Great for sensitive Skins

Antibacterial and Antifungal

Great for use overnight and with heavy wetters

One of a new breed of man made cellulose fibres. It is an incredibly soft fabric with a feeling akin to cashmere/silk and has natural antibacterial properties. Bamboo is a highly sustainable resource, which grows without the need for agrochemicals and has a very short growth cycle. Because of the way the bamboo absorbs into the fibres, it takes a longer time to dry than cotton but bamboo fabric makes very trim nappies and absorbs liquid very quickly.

Bamboo is also great for babies with sensitive skin.  I have seen lots of babies that coudn't use any of the other fabrics except bamboo on their highly sensitive skin.

I rate cotton and bamboo as the the best night-time nappy fabrics available.  They will always out preform microfibre because the fabric retains the liquid where as microfibre released liquid when under pressure.
 

Micro fibre - Quick dry, stay soft

100% Synthetic

Drys Fast

Durable

Must be used with a liner on top to protect baby's skin

A purely synthetic man made material, micro fibre has one of the highest liquid retention capacities around. Due to the unique way in which it is constructed, micro fibre dries incredibly quickly. It also stays completely soft even after washing in hard water. It pays to use a natural fabric with microfiber when possible as microfiber may have a high liquid retention capacity but if you put pressure on the fabric it cant hold liquid in where as a natural fabric can. Micro fibre is great for hard water areas.

However, microfibre is the only fabric that should not be put directly against baby's skin.  It is so absorbent that it will take moisture from their skin and make it dry out.  If you feel it against your hands when they are dry it feels yucky, this also makes it uncomfortable for your baby as it is constantly catching on the hairs and dry skin which could irritate them.
 

Hemp – Great for sensitive skin

Durable - but goes hard over time

Takes longer to dry

Great for sensitive Skins

Antibacterial and Antifungal

Great for use overnight and with heavy wetters

Hemp is also used to make cloth nappies. Hemp is durable and super absorbent. Hemp also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Hemp is an environmentally kind choice too – like bamboo the growth of hemp has less impact on our environment. A couple of things to note are that Hemp shrinks a lot on the first wash, you may loose up to 20% and in my experience, it can go slightly stiff over time and will need to be popped through the dryer to soften it up again.
 

Fabrics – Effect on the Environment

Remember that all fabrics have an environmental effect on the environment during their production phase. You can do a lot of research about it but always read both sides of each story to get the best overview.
 

Nappy Lady Top TIP: Often using a combination of different absorbent fabrics in a cloth nappy system gives the best overall performance.


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