Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DDT5 -- Choosing Diaper Fabric

There are a few things to consider when selecting fabric for a diapers.  The two main characteristics you want to think about are absorbency and comfort.  The cloth needs to absorb quickly and not irritate sensitive skin in a constant contact situation.

For absorbency, I've found that bamboo fabrics are are fast and hold a lot of liquid without a lot of bulk, cottons are very absorbent but tend to be very thick, cotton flannel is absorbent even though it isn't thick but doesn't tend to be the most durable with frequent washing, and fleeces are good at wicking away moisture for the driest feel.

The most comfortable, soft fabrics I've found are bamboo blends.  Bamboo velour is very soft and fluffy.  Bamboo fleece is some of the most luxurious I've felt.  Other benefits are the almost nonexistant shrinkage and the antibacterial properties of bamboo.  Cotton is also very comfortable, especially french terry which is also a very effective liquid absorber, but some flannels and terry can be on the rough side.  Fleece is hit or miss depending on what it's made out of and if it's anti-pill or not.  I've used polyester fleece remnants and some of them work well, but the ones that pill leave marks on my baby's skin.

Because various types of fabric are have tactile differences and do not interact the same way with moisture, I've found that there is not really one all-purpose fabric that is perfect for every diaper project.  Even though cotton, bamboo, and hemp can be very good at absorbing wetness, they aren't always good enough for heavy wetters or night time use.  Fleece tends to be the best for that and polyester is the driest feeling and fastest wicking.  Polyester fleece also releases waste quickly with no staining in my experience.  For reusable wipes and diaper liners, I've found that having a thick side (such as terry cloth or polyester fleece) and a soft side (such as cotton knits or bamboo fleece/velour) is best.  The thick side can be used for getting the bulk of the mess and the soft side for gentle clean up.  When used as a liner, I like to fold it so that the soft side or the driest feeling side, depending on the fabric used, is on the outside and the most heavily absorbent fabric is on the inside.  Ultimately, you'll have to decide what fabrics and combinations work best for you.

To read more about the types of fabrics people are using for diapers and the pros and cons, I found this article to be very informative: