When I first started cloth diapering, I was talking to a lot of cloth diapering mom and they use a lot of terms that is pretty confusing for newbie like me then. Therefore, I put together all the terms that I could think of, hopefully it will help everyone. Please note that I have personally researched all of this and if I have made any mistakes, please email me so that I can make sure that we are sharing the correct information.
Cover/ Diaper cover - Some cloth diapers requires diaper covers. These covers are made out of PUL (see below) to provide a waterproof outer layer for the diapers that are non-waterproof. They could be velcro or snaps but some are also pull ups. It's usually used to cover fitted, prefold or flat diapers to hold moisture in.
PUL - PUL stands for Polyurethane laminated fabric. It is the technical term for thin, shinny, breathable, waterproof cloth that is mostly used for cloth diapers, such as all in one, pocket diapers, diaper covers, diaper pail liners, wet bags, bibs, changing pads, etc. It was originally created for use in the hospital and medical settings but since they continue to prevent leaks over the course of many washes, people decided that it's a good idea to use them for cloth diapers. According to some sites, solid PUL is most reliable for overnights.
Wet Bag - A waterproof bag used for storing cloth diapers in your diaper bag. It could be compacted and comes in various sizes. Small ones can fit 2 cloth diapers and the bigger ones can fit up to 8 diapers depending on the wet bag size. Most of the time, mom would bring plastics bags to put the dirty diapers but this is definitely the more environmental friendly way to go. Some mom actually suggest dabbing a bit of aromatic oil inside the wet bag to combat odor prior to putting it in the washing machine. The good thing about the wet bag is that once your children has past the diaper stage, you can use the wet bags for other purposes, example to store wet swimsuits, some parents even use them to store wet clothes. It can be used to store a variety of things such as cosmetics, dirty laundry, shoes, etc. Common closures include drawstrings, zippers or hook and loop tape.
Diaper Sprayers – It is basically a small sprayer that attaches to your toilet bowl system to spray off diapers. It is really not necessary to have, but a really nice option if you want to be able to rinse off messes directly into the toilet. No swishing or flushing required. Some parents sees the diaper sprayers, they think that it is a big project as they need to call in a plumber, don’t worry, the diaper sprayers nowadays do not require such skills. Most diaper sprayers cost less than $50.00 and the good thing is that you could use it not only to spray off solids from cloth diapers but can also be used for adults.
DSQ – Known as the Diaper Service Quality. It is a durable and absorbent Pre-fold diaper. It is also known as the top quality pre-fold. Diaper service quality diapers are made to withstand many types of washing and are more absorbent than the cloth diapers you'll find in big baby stores. According to some, the real DSQ diapers are usually made in China or India and are 100% Cotton.
Soakers – Soakers can be applied to different items but most often referred to the absorbent middle part of the diaper that absorbs the moisture when a baby wets. It is often made from several layers of an absorbent fabric such as microfiber, cotton fleece or hemp fleece. Soakers can be sewn inside the diaper, partially sewn to form a flap, comes with a snap to snap to the diaper or simply be laid inside the diaper or be stuffed into the pocket for pocket diapers. Soaker is also used in reference to wool diaper covers.
Doublers – Doublers is basically an extra soaker that is placed inside a diaper to make it more absorbent. Typically, a doubler does not go into a pocket; instead, it is used on top of the diapering material. These are often used for overnights or heavy wetter especially night time.
Inserts – Inserts are similar to the soaker or doublers but is placed inside the pocket or hybrid diapers for extra absorbency.
Types of Cloth Diapers:
Fitted Diaper - A fitted diaper is shaped to fit the baby and typically uses velcro or snaps as a closure. It closely resembles disposable diapers. They are contoured and fitted with elastics around the legs and back. This type of diaper requires a cover. Since it requires a cover, some say that it is not as convenient compared to the AIO but the good thing is that it can be washed at high temperatures, separate from covers. Fitted comes in a variety of materials, such as cotton, flannel, bamboo, terry cloth, hemp, bamboo and velour. According to most, fitted diapers are one step up from the prefolds used many years ago.
Pocket Diaper – A pocket diaper is a diaper with a waterproof outer layer (PUL) and an inner layer of a stay dry material such as microfleece, suedecloth or bamboo. They come with a pocket (mostly at the back but some could be at the front), for the absorbent inner layer to be stuffed in the pocket during use and then to be removed for laundering. This makes them really versatile and also less bulky than some other type of cloth diapers. Most say that they are very similar to the AIO or AI2. Good thing about the pocket diaper is that you choose what you want to “stuff” into the pocket so that you can find the right absorbency level. On the other hand, the disadvantage of using the pocket diaper is that it requires a separate stuffer and sometimes, it could be a little too bulky if too many inserts are stuffed.
Pre-Fold – A rectangular of cloth that is thicker in the middle third than on the sides. The pre-folds are most commonly made from cotton. The fabric is folded in the middle so that the middle is more absorbent. The pre-fold can also be used as burp cloth. It can be folded and pinned or snappied into place or simply laid into a waterproof cover. Pre-fold are the cheapest cloth diaper options but it will require a diaper cover. The prefolds require a diaper pin or snappi to close. Some also say that the pre-fold can also be used as inserts or doublers. The advantage of using the pre-fold is that it is very economical, easy to launder and very fast to dry. The down side to it is that it requires a diaper cover or pin/ snappy to work.
Diaper Liners – Diaper liners are added to a diaper next to the child’s skin. Liners are thin layers of cloth or paper that is placed inside the diaper to aid in the cleaning of solid waste. They usually come in a roll or boxes of 100 or 120. It is not used for absorbency but instead as a barrier that allows the transfer of liquids through it. A flushable liner for instance is used to keep solids off the diaper easily. They also helps prevents stains on cloth diapers. Most common fabric liners are made out of silk, micro fleece and flannel but the lately, bamboo has been a hit as well.
AIO – Known as the All-In-One Cloth Diapers. This diaper contains the waterproof outer layer (PUL) and the absorbent middle layer and the stay dry inner layer in one piece. Most say that it is the closest to disposables diapers since it is a one cloth diapering system. The absorbent soaker is sewn onto the diaper.
AI2 – Known as the All-In-Two Cloth Diapers. The AI2s are very similar to the AIOs with the exception that the absorbent soakers are not attached to the diapers all the way. These diapers have a snap in the soaker layer so that it can be detached. The advantage of the AI2s over the AIOs is that the AI2s dries faster since the soaker can dried and wash separately. Some AI2s work more like Pocket diapers.
CPF – Known as the Chinese Pre-fold diapers. These are high quality cotton diapers but most say that it is not as soft as the Indian Pre-fold diapers. They are often choice for embroidery and are very durable. Since they are cotton, you can sometimes find them in a wide variety of colors or tie dye.
IPF – Known as the Indian Pre-fold diapers. These are very similar to the Chinese Pre-fold. They are soft, absorbent cotton pre-fold diapers made in either India or Pakistan.
OS – Known as the One Size cloth diapers. It is a diaper that folds or snaps down to adjust the size to fit newborns all the way to toddlers.
Shorties – Shorties are shorts that double as a diaper cover. Unlike the diaper cover, it is usually non waterproof. It is most often handmade with wool but may also be knit or crocheted with archylic.
Longies - Longies are the same as the shorties except for they are long pants instead of shorts. They are also called the soaker pants or sweater pants. They are perfect to wear during the winter time.
Training pants – These are especially made for children in the potty training stage or for children that are potty trained who needs overnight protection. They are able to be pulled down so that children can still go potty and on the other hand is as absorbent as a diaper to avoid accidents.
WIO – Known as Wool In One. Acts just like the AIO (See AIO) except that it is made from Wool.
Material Used For Cloth Diapers:
Hemp – The hemp is a fast growing plant that requires few chemicals than cotton. Hemp fiber is one of the strongest and most durable natural textile fibers. Not only is it strong, but it also holds its shape having one of the lowest percent elongation of any natural fiber. As a fabric, hemp provides all the warmth and softness of other natural textiles but with a superior durability seldom found in other materials. Natural organic hemp fiber ‘breathes’ and is biodegradable. Hemp blended with other fibers easily incorporate the desirable qualities of both textiles. When combined with the natural strength of hemp, the soft elasticity of cotton or the smooth texture of silk create a whole new genre of fashion design. While growing hemp is banned in the US due to an uniformed political situation, it was once grown freely in the US for making rope and other materials. Some may wonder if hemp is legal, yes, industrial hemp products such as clothing and food stuffs are completely legal in the U.S. but the cultivation of industrial hemp is not. Hemp is absorbent, durable, natural and has an anti-microbial quality.
Bamboo – Bamboo is a fabric that is pretty popular for cloth diapers. According to most research, bamboo absorbs 3-4 times better than the cotton. They are really soft like silk. Bamboo is known for their antibacterial qualities, from the time they are grown to the process of being manufactured into cloth diapers, they have the natural qualities that repels and eliminate most forms of antibacterial. Bamboo is highly water absorbent. According to research, it is able to take 3 times more water weight. It retains this ability in some extent, pulling the moisture away from the skin so that it can evaporates. Bamboo can be worn all year round. It keeps babies cool during the summer time and warm during winter time. Babies who has sensitive skin or who are allergic to fabrics made from other materials find that they will have no problems with the bamboo. Bamboo has lots of micro holes, it makes breathability superior to that of cotton.
Fleece – There are many different types of fleece but the two main types of fleece used for diapers. The most common one is cotton fleece. Both cotton and hemp fleece is absorbent and is used for the main part of the diaper or for inside soaker layers. Polyester fleece is not absorbent and is used for wicking layers (microfleece) or outer waterproof layers or diaper covers (polar fleece).
Microfiber/ Microfleece – Microfiber is usually made out of 75% polyester and 25% polyamide. Microfleece is usually 100% polyester. Typically used next to baby’s skin to keep the baby feeling dry and even for wet diapers. Though, some people advise not to use microfiber next because it can dry out baby’s skin. One thing good about the microfleece is that it resists staining and most importantly, it does not hold solids like other diaper fabric can.
Cotton – Cotton is a soft, fluffy, staple fiber that grows in a boll around the seeds of the cotton plant. It is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Pakistan, India and Africa. The fiber most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, which is the most widely used natural-fiber cloth in clothing today.
Organic Cotton - Organic cotton is generally understood as cotton, from non genetically modified plants, that is certified to be grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. Its production also promotes and enhances biodiversity and biological cycles. In the United States cotton plantations must also meet the requirements enforced by the National Organic Program (NOP), from the USDA, in order to be considered organic. This institution determines the allowed practices for pest control, growing, fertilizing, and handling of organic crops.
Sherpa – Sherpa is a super soft fabric that is perfect for cuddly diaper and absorbent soakers or inserts. It is made by brushing the loops of the terry cloth to make them even softer. It is soft even after several washes. Most Sherpa has at least some polyester to make it more durable. Sherpa is a favorite for cloth diapers as well as wipes.
Suadecloth – Suadecloth is thinner than microfleece but shares many similarities and therefore makes it perfect for diaper inner lining in some pocket diapers. The moisture goes through the fabric to the soaker pad, allowing baby’s skin to dry longer.
Polar Fleece – According to Wikipedkia, polar fleece is also known as microfleece but typically referred as “fleece”. Polyester fleece that is commonly used for the outer layer of pocket diapers or as a waterproof diaper cover. One of the first forms was Polar Fleece created in 1979 by Malden Mills. Malden fleece is sought after because it is the most reliable anti-pill fleece and it is also the most water resistant. Fleeces differ widely, even from one manufacturer so some fleeces are more water resistant than others. Polar fleece is also used for blankets, outdoor gear and winter wear.
Snappi - Snappi is also known as nappy fastener. It is a plastic mechanism that fastens a cloth diaper. Years ago, people have been using diaper pins but today, the snappis are preferred. Honestly, I remember years ago when my mom was using the diaper pin as we used cloth diapers for my brother and accident happened. Therefore, the snappi is going to be perfect to avoid accidents :)
Snaps – Some people prefer a snaps or also known as buttons as closures. I remember one of my customers told me that she prefers snaps because when the baby grows a little older, it’s harder to take off the diapers if it’s snaps but according to her, the baby knows how to pull off the Velcro immediately. Though, it depends on the baby and the parent’s preference.
Velcro/ Applix - Velcro is a brand name of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners. It consists of two layers: a "hook" side, which is a piece of fabric covered with tiny hooks, and a "loop" side, which is covered with even smaller and "hairier" loops. When the two sides are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops and hold the pieces together. When the layers are separated, the strips make a characteristic "ripping" sound. According to some, it is better to use applix then Velcro as the applix holds up better. Though when using the Velcro diapers, you need to make sure that the diaper has some call the washing flap or laundry tab. When washing, you don’t have to worry about a bunch of diapers all being stuck together as long as your diapers with Velcro has laundry tabs. Though, some parents actually prefer the diapers because it gives a perfect fit for the baby.
Pins – Diaper pins are usually used for pre-folds and some fitted diapers. Some parents do not like to use pin because they are afraid of sticking their babies. You should try the snappis instead.
Absorbent – Any type of material that soaks and holds liquid and contain wetness.
Adjustable – A variety of closure like snaps, Velcro/ applix to fit newborn all the way to toddlers.
Biodegradable - Able to be decomposed by bacterial or other biological agents. When it is disposed of in landfills, it breaks down under uncontrolled anaerobic conditions.
Breathable - Any type of materials that allow air to flow through the baby’s skin.
Casing – Casing is an additional row of stitching on the leg area to ensure that the diaper fits tighter.
Contour – A coutour diaper is not a fitted, but not a prefold. Kind of a mix of the both. It is curved to fit the shape of a baby. These diapers are usually laid in a cover and then fastened. They have an advantage over a fitted because as baby grows, it grows with them. (No snaps or velcro to limit adjustability). It has an advantage over the prefold as it is less bulky and no folding is required. It is not water proof so it needs a cover. It is used like a prefold but is simpler to put on, no folding.
Gusset - This is an extra piece of material on a diaper added in the leg opening for additional expansion and protection. Gusset are now included at the back of the baby diaper to ensure that the waist portion is fitted as well
Hyena - A term coined several years ago to refer to cloth diaper addicts who stalk the best custom diaper auctions. It is now referred to Hyena cart, which is a collection of small stores owned by families.
Care of Cloth Diapers:
Lanolin/ Lanolize - Wool diaper covers or longies require conditioning with lanolin. It is basically a natural oily substance produced by sheep to keep their wool dry. Wool covers and longies that are properly lanolized make great breathable diaper covers. Lanolin reacts with the ammonia in urine to neutralize odors. Lanolin is also a great skin conditioner and is used in many skin care products. There are many websites that teaches how to lanolize the wool diaper covers or longies.
Stripping Diapers – Over time, you may notice that your cloth diapers no longer smell fresh, even right after laundering. This usually means that they have build-up and need a good stripping. Build-up occurs when residue left by detergents, oils or other substances remain in the fibers. Diapers with either super-absorbant hemp or man-made materials like microfleece tend to gather stink more easily than diapers with all-natural fibers like cotton or bamboo. By stripping the diapers, it will remove any build up on your diaper to get it to function properly again. If you have repelling you will need to strip your diapers. There are a lot of videos on youtube or instructions on how to strip the diapers.
Pliable - A type of material that can be easily bent or shaped. Typically, people like the diaper to be less pliable.
Quilt Up – New pre-folds diapers are usually flat and stiff but after a few times washings, it will be fluffy and and fluffs ups to have a quilt like structure. It’s basically a change that occurs in a pre-fold diaper after the first few washes.
Repelling – Repelling usually occurs to the top stay-dry lining when it gets a waxy or oily build up from detergents, baby rash creams or any others. Due to this build ups, the diaper becomes less liquid resistant to liquid and becomes incapable of absorbing or letting the wetness pass through. That’s when I think you have to start thinking about stripping the diapers.
Vinyl – During the 80s, this is commonly used instead of the cuter diaper covers now. It is sometime also called as the plastic pants where it is made out of vinyl. The ones I can remember whereby my mom used for my younger siblings are ones where you have to tie both sides but unfortunately, those are not as breathable as the diaper covers we have today.
Waterproof – Waterproof describes objects relatively unaffected by water or resisting water passage, or which are covered with a material that resists or does not allow water passage. In the world of cloth diapering today, when people say that it the diapers are waterproof, they the outer layers are usually made out of PUL.
Water resistant – Water resistant is basically materials that hinders the penetration of water.
Wicking –When there is layers that is build up on the PUL, it allows moisture to pass through. It can be used to describe moisture wicking through the 'stay dry' liner and into the absorbent insert. Cleaning it with a good detergent or drying on really high heat most of the time can reseal the PUL but if that doesn’t work, that could be it’s time for new cloth diapers.
Wrap – This is similar to the diaper cover as this is basically an outer waterproof layer used if a diaper does not have a built in waterproof layer. They fasten with velcro or snaps and can be used through several changes of the inner absorbent material. These are often used with pre-folds diapers
AIO - All In One
AI2 - All In Two
CPF - Chinese Prefold
DD - Disposables Diapers
DSQ - Diaper Service Quality
IPF - Indian Prefold
PUL - Polyurethane Laminate
WAHM - Work At Home Mom
OS - One Size
PF – Prefold
WIO – Wool In One