Inserts are the material you use to insert into a cloth diaper to make it absorbent. Microfiber, bamboo and hemp are very common materials used for cloth diaper inserts. They all have benefits, so which one is right for you?
Microfibre is a synthetic material. It wicks away and absorbs moisture quickly. Microfiber is a very common type of insert and one of the cheapest options. Inserts made of microfiber are so good at absorbing moisture that you need to have a layer between baby’s skin and the insert. Otherwise they will absorb moisture from baby’s skin and cause a rash.
A common complaint about microfiber is that they hold onto the smell of urine. This may lead you to strip your microfiber inserts more often. They hold a lot of liquid, although natural fibres can hold even more.
You don’t need to do much to prep microfiber inserts, they come pretty much at their full absorbency, but it is a good idea to wash them a few times
Typically hemp inserts are a mix of 55% hemp and 45% cotton. The cotton helps to make the inserts very soft. Inserts made of hemp are safe to use against baby’s skin and have anti-microbial properties. They can hold more liquid than a microfiber insert, but do not absorb as quickly. If you notice baby’s diaper leaking you might want to try layering your hemp insert underneath of a fast absorbing insert, like microfiber. This isn’t always necessary and can depend on the brand and the baby.
To prep hemp you need to wash them with a small amount of detergent in hot water about three times to get rid of the natural oils. Otherwise they can leave a residue on other diapers that can lead to repelling. It’s important to know that hemp inserts only reach their full absorbent capacity after about 8-10 washes.
Bamboo inserts are made of rayon that is derived from the bamboo plant through a process called viscose. Like hemp, they are typically mixed with cotton and absorb liquid slower than microfiber. They are soft, very absorbent, and dry quickly. Bamboo is a breathable fabric, so even when wet it is comfortable against baby’s skin.
Prepping bamboo inserts is the same as hemp. Because of the natural oils they need to be washed on their own 3 times.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of insert material, these are pretty common options. Other options include folding prefolds or flats and using them as inserts.
What is your favourite insert material? Do you mix and match, or stick to one material? I’d love to hear from you!