Cloth Diaper Fabric Types

There are a wide variety of cloth diaper fabric types and this can make things confusing when you are trying to decide on the best fabric type for your baby's cloth diapers. If you are making your own cloth diapers with a cloth diaper pattern, it is best and safest to stick to all natural fabrics like cotton, hemp, bamboo, and wool.

Part of the reason to avoid disposable diapers is because they contain toxic chemicals.

cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers © Nifty Nappy™

Research into how petroleum based products affect human health is still ongoing, but many petroleum based products have already been proven to cause disease in humans. So, this should be considered when choosing synthetic fabrics like polyester and PUL.

For our family, I chose unbleached organic cotton prefolds and organic bamboo velour fitteds to make up the bulk of our diaper stash. For my cloth diaper wraps, I chose waterproof covers with PUL and also fleece covers. They both work great at night!


cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers

Bamboo is very environmentally friendly, as bamboo grows quickly and can be replaced again. It also releases a lot of oxygen into the air and doesn't need fertilizer and pesticides to grow. Bamboo fabrics are very soft, but in some cases can be more fragile than cotton or hemp. I absolutely love how bamboo velour feels in our diapers, but the manufacturing process can pollute the environment in some cases, so you may want to look for eco-friendly manufacturers.

Bamboo Velour- Deliciously soft and absorbent cloth diaper fabric. There can be a lower polyester count in this velour than in the cotton velour.

Synthetic Cloth Diaper Fabric Types

cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers

Some synthetic fabrics could potentially offgas or cause negative health effects when a person is exposed to them over a long period of time. If you are going green, you may want to consider whether or not you want to use these. Polyester has become rather ubiquitous in every day modern life, though, so it can be hard to avoid.

Polyester - Polyester is often blended with other natural fabrics to make them more durable. It is often the fabric of choice for covers. It dries very quickly.

PUL - Polyurethane Laminate - PUL - is what makes most AIOs or diaper covers waterproof and it can offgas.

Suedecloth - Looks suede-like, but made of polyester.

Microfleece - Like fleece, but is also made of polyester. Fleece covers are often made of this.


cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers

Cotton - This is the most commonly used fabric in cloth diapers. If you are choosing cotton diapers, look for organic cotton cloth diapers. A lot of pesticides are often used on cotton, so if you are going green and trying to use natural products for your baby, this is the best choice.

Unbleached Cotton Twill - Thick, very absorbent, fluffy and somewhat soft after washing away the natural oils found in this cloth diaper fabric. Found in many brands of prefolds.

Birdseye Cotton Fabric - Many different types of diapers make use of birdseye cotton. It is gauzy and can be very absorbent. Most often seen in flats and prefolds.

Cotton fleece - A great alternative to synthetic polyester fleece. This is very soft and made from 100% cotton.

Cotton Velour- Soft fabric and absorbent. There is polyester in this fabric.

Terry Cloth - A soft absorbent fabric. Can be made of different fabrics. Often seen in robes and towels. Can also come in a stretch knit and can contain polyester in the backing.

Burley Knit Terry - Very popular and used in doublers and soakers. Has a polyester backing.

Sherpa - A heavier stretch terry. Made of cotton and can have polyester in it.

Flannel - The nappy cloth we all know and love. Can be made of cotton or wool. Cotton flannel homemade baby wipes can be great and you can make them out of your old shirts.


cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers

Hemp is made from the inner bark of the Cannibus Sativa plant. It is environmentally friendly as it grows quickly and doesn't need a lot of fertilizer or pesticides. In diapers, it is very durable, absorbent and has natural anti-microbial and anti-mildewing properties. Some people have found this cloth diaper fabric type to become rough after washing, but others love it and consider it to be a "workhouse" cloth diaper fabric because of how absorbent it is. The fact that it is so absorbent may mean it can be a bit harder to get clean.

Hemp French Terry - Made with Hemp and feels like a terry cloth. Soft and often made with cotton and hemp.

Hemp fleece - Another alternative to synthetic polyester fleece.


cloth diaper fabric, going green, organic cotton cloth diapers

Wool is a natural choice and is often used in covers and wool longies (water resistant pants.) Lanolin is a substance produced by sheep and is what makes the wool water resistant. Lanolin can actually neutralize the odor of urine, so these covers don't need to be washed very often. When they are washed, they require special handling. They also need to be re-lanolized every couple of weeks. Wool is probably not for everyone since it requires extra upkeep. If you have the time for it, though, and really want only natural fibers on your baby, wool might be a great thing to try. Look for organic wool, as sheep are often sprayed with pesticides.

Merino Wool- Wool from Merino sheep.