Last week we discussed the ins and outs of microfiber, this week we are discussing cotton/bamboo. Both of these fibers are on par with each other as far as absorbency goes, in our experience we don’t view bamboo as having the same dense holding power that hemp does, but we do find it is comparable to cotton and its properties.

Cotton is what most of your prefold brands will be made of, prefolds are usually sewn in 4, 6 or 8 layers depending on the size that you get. Prefolds are what many newborns will start out in, but don’t store them after the newborn stage, they make great inserts and doublers for older babies and toddlers! If you are using fitteds in your older babies, fold your infant prefolds in half and place between the fitted and the cover, you may have to bump your cover size up earlier than without it, but it provides 16 layers of cotton in addition to your fitted. If you use pockets, fold into thirds (or half for infant prefolds), and stuff inside. This is a very economical way to boost absorbency in pocket diapers, it will be bulkier but will hold more than microfiber, especially if you can add some thinner hemp inserts to it as well. If you are using prefolds exclusively, fold in half or trifold your smaller ones and place them in the middle of the bigger prefold. Then, flip your rectangle that you laid in up over the baby’s belly, and wrap the bigger prefold around and fasten, you have just doubler your absorbency with less bulk than adding another large prefold. Prefolds also make amazing burp cloths (especially if you have a baby with reflux, or a “happy spitter”-LOL-those little cute 6 x 6 cloths aren’t going to help you at all, but toss a regular size prefold over and you will enjoy the coverage!) Prefolds are pretty easy to wash, and last for years if stored properly. We have many customers who hand wash their diapers, and have found that a mix of prefolds and flats are very easy to wash in the tub and hang dry. No elastic, snaps or PUL to worry about, and can be bleached periodically without showing wear.

Density wise cotton is very “middle of the road”, meaning it isn’t as quick to slurp up liquid as microfiber, but holds more overall. On the other end of the scale, it will slurp more than hemp initially, but inch for inch not hold as much overall as hemp. Nighttime layering is where prefolds really come in handy, you can customize the width of your folding technique to fill the wider pockets that can be used for nighttime, or used to provide an economical solution for heavy wetting side and tummy sleepers. Microfiber and hemp make a great combo for absorbency, but when you need coverage to solve the problem of having “space” to fill, that is where prefolds can help.

Next week we will chat about hemp and then get back into some nighttime diapering 🙂


October 27, 2011. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Q & A.


  1. tubbytelly replied:

    I am going to have to disagree with you on the cotton being almost the same as bamboo front. The only diaper that has managed to keep my son dry overnight is his Econappi with tri-folded bamboo liner. I have used cotton and microfiber. I LOVE bamboo for it’s amazing absorbency.

  2. abbydale replied:

    Bamboo is a “quicker” absorber than cotton, too, remember bamboo is a rayon blend, meaning it has polyester blended into it to make sure it lasts a while (plain bamboo is almost impossible to make into a durable textile).
    Depending on what kind of cotton you used that can definitely make a difference 🙂

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