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5.) Diaper Dictionary / A - Z

The Cloth Diapering A-Z Dictionary

All-in-one AIOs - All-In-One Diapers are used the same way as disposables.They are similar to fitted diapers but have a waterproof outer layer attached already so no separate cover is needed. This layer usually consists of fabric that has a PUL (polyurethane) backing, polar fleece such as Windpro, or wool. These are the closest in similarity to disposable diapers since they are a one-piece diapering system with the absorbent soaker material sewn into the diaper or it may be detachable (AI2’s). Considered the easiest to use as they require no folding, fastening or covering. They are a little more expensive though.
All-in-two’s AI2s - are very similar to AIOs with the exception that the absorbent soaker material is attached to the diaper with snaps. The soaker is a second, separate piece that must be used in conjunction with the diaper. The drying time for these diapers is shorter than the traditional AIO.
Aplix - a 2 part hook and loop fastener commonly used on cloth diapers. Other types of for hook and loop fasteners used on cloth diapers include velcro brand fasteners and touch tape.


Bamboo - a highly absorbent fabric (holds 60% more than similar weight cotton fabrics) and is extremely sustainable, bamboo is an amazing textile. Bamboo rivals hemp in it’s absorbency ratings and is a very earth-friendly choice for pocket diaper inserts, breast pads, and any other absorbent cloth product. Bamboo is breathable and has natural antibacterial properties (similar to wool) meaning it’s more hygienic and better for your baby's skin. Also the breathability is wonderful for sensitive and allergic skin as it keeps it feeling dry and unirriated.

MORE ABOUT BAMBOO Bamboo is a naturally occurring fiber. It grows quickly and easily, without the need for pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo is biodegradable. The fiber has an unrivaled silky texture and readily absorbs moisture. Bamboo fiber has natural antibacterial elements to help fight bacteria growth in your diaper.


Contours - are hourglass shaped diapers with no elastic in the legs or back. They must be held together with snappis, pins, or a diaper cover. These diapers are not waterproof so a cover will be needed.
Contours are also a cut style of insert. They have the hourglass shape and can give more trimness between the legs. Examples are Happy Heiny Stuffins.
CPF- Common abbreviation for Chinese Prefold Diaper
Cloth Wipe- a fabric square, often of flannel or terry, which is used instead of a disposable wipe. Usually used in conjunction with a natural wipe solution, although plain water and small amount of baby soap works in a pinch.


Diaper Covers - Covers come in many styles and shapes but their function is to provide a waterproof outer layer for non-waterproof diapers like fitteds and prefolds. They are often fitted with elastic and you fasten them with snaps or velcro. Some covers pull-up, like underpants (Example: Happy Heinys Stacintors). Covers can be made of nylon, PUL, polyester, treated cotton, wool or fleece. Breathable covers like wool and fleece are best for overnight.
DSQ – Abbreviation for diaper service quality.
Diaper Service Quality (DSQ) - Diaper services use only the highest quality materials because their diapers must stand up to a lot of use and a lot of laundering. DSQ is usually used in reference to high quality pre-fold diapers. . When purchasing prefolds for use as diapers, make sure they state the description: Diaper Service Quality or DSQ. Otherwise they will not be durable or absorbent enough for cloth diaper use. Non-DSQ pre-folds can be used as burp rags
Doublers / Booster – Doublers are rectangular pad-like absorbent soakers that can be added to a diaper to increase absorbency. Doublers typically are put between the baby’s bottom and the diaper. They are especially useful for heavy wetter's and during times when you know extra protection is needed, perhaps at night time. Some doublers are topped with wicking fabrics for a stay-dry feeling.
Dry pail - A method of storing soiled diapers for laundering.



Flat or Square Diapers - Flat diapers refer to the single-ply square shaped diapers that resemble the diapers our mothers and grandmothers used. The one-layer diapers are most often made of 100% cotton gauze birdseye and flannel, but more fabrics are being found that make for wonderful flat diapers. Common sizes are 27x27 and 30x30. Flats require folding into different shapes depending on the absorbency you're looking for. Simple rectangle shapes are easy to do whereas the origami, with multiple steps is more detailed, but easy to remember after learning. The types of flats that you find in a store are not effective for use as cloth diapers but they make great liners, burp rags or cleaning rags.
Flats are very economical as they dry quickly, are inexpensive and fit a large range of sizes so can be used on multiple children. Flats can also grow with your child from infancy through potty training. Will need a set of pins or snappi’s and a cover.
Fitted Diapers - Fitted diapers closely resemble disposable diapers. They are contoured and fitted with elastic around the legs and back. They fasten with velcro or snaps and a waterproof cover must be worn over them. These are next step up from flat pre-fold diapers and easier to use, but less economical as many of them are sized diapers.
Fleece- Fleece is used in many ways throughout cloth diapering. Fleece`s ability to wick moisture away from the skin makes it a great fabric for covers. Also, since fleece has the ability to allow a jet of water (such as pee) shoot through it and not penetrate back, it works as a wonderful stay dry liner. Fleece liners are great for night-time wear. Some do not like fleece liners because it is a synthetic material. Still others love it and it is fast becoming a popular fabric for soakers since it can be easily thrown in the washer or dryer or can be hung dry.



Hemp - Hemp is a course fiber made from the inner bark of the hemp plant. It is becoming increasingly popular for use in diapers because of its durability, absorbency and natural anti-microbial properties. Hemp is better for the environment because it does not deplete the soil or require pesticides, unlike cotton. Some common hemp fabrics are hemp fleece, French terry and jersey.
The most common diaper product you will find made of hemp is the insert and doubler, where all the absorbency is needed.
Hook & Loop - These are velcro-like closures. Since the velcro brand is not very soft, many diaper makers use aplix or touchtape brand hook and loop.


Insert - The absorbent material used to stuff a pocket diaper. Can be made of microfiber, hemp, cotton, or even bamboo. Prefolds and flats make great inserts also.




Lanolin - Lanolin is a greasy, yellow substance that is produced by sheep to keep their wool dry and soft. Lanolin is soothing to the skin and naturally helps prevent bacteria from growing. It acts as a moisture barrier on skin and keeps wool in good condition. Lanolin is what keeps the sheep’s own wool dry and helps to neutralize urine. Lanolin is what keeps the water out. In the case of your wool soakers you want to keep the water in. Lanolin also reacts with your baby`s urine and neutralizes it. This is why you can hang a wet soaker up to dry and have it still smell fresh without washing.
Lanolizing - The process of restoring the water resistent quality to your wool covers.
Liners- Liners are thin material used between a baby`s bottom and the diaper itself. Most liners are used to keep stool away from diapers for easy clean up. With paper liners, most or all of the stool ends up on the liner not the diaper, and the liner is then flushed away like toilet paper. Cloth liners must be washed but they still help to keep your diapers stain free and make clean up easier. Plus they are more economical since you can reuse them.
As an alternative you can use cut up flat diapers to keep costs down and still keep a natural soft fabric against your baby`s skin.
Longies - Longies are wool or acrylic pants that can be used instead of diaper covers over fitted diapers or securely fastened prefolds/flats. They may be sewn from wool yardage, knitted, crocheted or sewn from recycled sweaters. The fabric may be felted (shrunk before construction) for a tighter weave and less stretch. Some have an elastic waist while others have a drawstring. Longies have a huge price range; from free (homemade from recycled sweaters) to over $200 for custom crafted, embellished pairs.


Micro-Fiber- Most commonly used as a soaker or insert for pocket diapers. NOTE: Don’t use against babys skin as it has allergenic tendencies, and is so good at taking in moisture away that it can dry out babys skin.
Micro-Fleece - Used as a inner lining in pockets and all-in-one diapers to help wick moisture away from baby’s bum gently and soaking any moisture through to the insert/soaker below. Extremely soft and great at helping diaper messes roll off into the toilet. Many times no liners are even needed unless baby’s stools are extremely mushy.
Microfleece liners are placed next to baby’s bum in diapers where more help is needed to keep wetness away from baby’s skin. Some people like to use them with prefolds or fitteds.



One-size Diapers - While most diapers need to be replaced as your child grows, one-size are exactly as they sound: one size fits all. This means you can not only use the same diapers from infancy up, but you can also use the same diapers for your older and younger kids and avoid tedious diaper sorting. A one size diaper usually fits a child from birth up until about 30 or 35 pounds. This sizing is usually achieved by special placement of fasteners on the front and back of the diaper that allows for the front of the diaper to be folded over and for the closures to be snapped on top of each other. As the baby grows, several snap settings allow for waist and leg growth.
Organic- fabric derived from plant material that is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic fabrics come in both knit and woven styles and many different kinds including birdseye, flannel, terry, jersey, cotton fleece and velour. Some are only available in natural color, but others are available dyed or printed with low-impact dyes. Organic fabrics are more expensive than regular fabrics.


Pail Liner - A waterproof liner which you place inside of your diaper pail. Pail Liners are washable and help to aid in making laundry a bit less messy as you simply lift the pail liner out of your diaper pail, empty the contents into the washing machine, then throw the pail liner in as well to be laundered.
Pocket Diaper - Pocket diapers are two piece diapering system typically with a piece of fleece or suedecloth that makes up the inner portion of fabric and a waterproof layer that makes up the outermost portion. A pocket (usually located in the back of the diaper) is where you can place an absorbent insert to draw moisture away from baby`s skin. Because the insert is separate from the rest of the diaper, you can customize the absorbency to fit your child’s needs. This is great if you need varying levels of protections and absorbency. Another great feature is that you can use almost any naturally absorbent material to put in the pocket, including old flat and prefold diapers. The separate inserts also makes washing and drying quicker and more effective. These make great overnight diapers as they can be stuffed with extra inserts and the fleece liner keeps the wetness away from your baby’s skin. They do need to be un-stuffed for laundering and then re-stuffed of course before using again. (Examples of pocket diapers include, Happy Hienys, DryBees, and Green Acre Designs Pocket Diapers.)
Pre-folds - These diapers are the foundation of an economical cloth diapering system. Pre-fold diapers are rectangular shaped flat diapers that need to be folded into the shape of a diaper. They are similar to flats, but have multiple layers with more layering in the middle which gives absorbancy where it is needed the most. They often have 2-4 layers of absorbent material on the outer sections and 6-8 layers in the middle section. The amount of layers varies according to the size you choose which generally ranges from preemie to toddler. You may see a pre-fold described as being 4x8x4. This describes how many layers there are in the outer and inner sections, 4 layers in both outer sections and 8 layers in the inner or middle section. Pre-folds are usually the cheapest type of cloth diapers available. They must be used in conjunction with a cover and snappi or pins. Although some covers like Thirsties accomidate prefolds and flats by just tri-folding (folding in thirds) and they laying in the cover.
Prefold diapers come in two colors, white bleached and unbleached. The unbleached diapers have not gone through a whitening process. They come with many of the original cotton oils still in the fabric and may require extensive washing to make them absorbent. Once these diapers have become absorbent, they are known for being softer than the white bleached diapers.
Bleached are good for dyeing and embellishing as they give brighter colors and are a bit sturdier and less ‘squishy’ for embellishing.
PUL(polyurethane laminate)- this is a coating generally fused with fabric to create a waterproof barrier. It creates a thin fabric that is soft, flexible and very easy to clean. This is most commonly used with diaper covers, pockets, all in ones, wet bags and pail liners.


Quick Dry- A diaper/insert style that has been customized for quicker drying than normal. A type of this is the AI2 diaper from Bum-Ware or Green Acre Designs Loop Inserts. Both were made differently from what was the norm, to allow for quicker drying times. The AI2 quick dry is like a AIO style, except the soaker is not sewn in but is attached with snaps. Therefore you can unsnap it and allow for quicker drying of the diaper and absorbant soaker. Green Acre Loop Inserts allow for air to get in between the insert layers for faster drying, while still getting several several thirsty layers of absorbancy for baby.


Semi-Fitted Diaper - A contour and fitted combination. Basically a contour diaper with leg elastic. Not a true fitted as there are no fasteners so a snappi or pins are necessary. Also not a true contour as there is elastic in the legs.
Sherpa - Sherpa Terry is knit terry fabric, just like a baby towel, that has been brushed and washed to raise the fibers and give a fluffy super soft feel. Many loops of the terry remain, and absorbency is not compromised. Generally the Sherpa Terry that is used in diapers has a high cotton content, and a small polyester content. Sherpa terry that is 75% cotton and 25% polyester, to 80% cotton and 20% polyester is most commonly used in diapers. The cotton content is found in the loops of the fabric, while the polyester content is found in the backing and lends durability to the finished product. An example of a sherpa diaper is the Happy Heiny Heiny Hugger Fitted Diaper.
Snappi - Most commonly used for prefold and flat diapers, it is a plastic tool used for fastening diapers as opposed to using pins. Snappi`s have three legs, each leg has a plastic head with "teeth" that dig into the fabric. Please see the “snappi how to” under store information.
Stripping - the process of removing detergent build-up from your diapers. These residues can cause waterproofing to wick, or persistent odor problems, or rashes. Begin with clean diapers. Fill washer with very hot water and and a few scoops of oxygen booster like oxy-clean or oxo-brite, or even a few tablespoons of liquid dawn. Allow it to agitate and then soak for an hour if intense stripping is needed. Rinse and then run a hot wash with nothing but water. If there are any suds during the wash, repeat the plain-water wash until there are no suds. It’s best if you do not return to using the same detergent that caused the problem. In fact, repeated washing in a residue-free detergent will also remove residues, just not as quickly as an intense “stripping”.
Soakers - The term soaker is used for two different things. It often refers to the absorbent middle part of the diaper, that absorbs the moisture when a baby wets. Often this layer is made of a different fabric than the rest of the diaper, one that is more absorbant. Soakers may be sewn inside the diaper, partially sewn to form a flap, snap in inside the diaper, or simply lay inside the diaper. The term soaker is also use in reference to wool or polar fleece diaper covers. Unlike other diaper covers, wool and polar fleece are water resistent, rather than waterproof. They do allow some wetness to wick through from the diaper but still manage to keep babies` clothes dry. Also, this type of soaker cover is usually used as a piece of clothing in the sense that they are made beautifully and work as shorts. (See Kozy Wool Soakers.)
Serger / Serged
A serger is a type of sewing machine that trims off the fabric as it sews over the edges. Clothing is typically manufactured with a serger for the inside seams. Serged diapers/AIOs/AI2s/covers have exposed thread wrapping over the outer edges. The leg & waist elastic on serged diapers is usually set in from the edge, giving a ruffled effect. Serged diapers dry a little more quickly, but the edges can wear faster than T&T diapers. Most doublers and inserts are serged, to reduce bulk on the edges.


Turned & Topstitched(T&T)- This is a sewing style for diapers/AIOs/AI2s/covers where the layers are sewn right sides together, then turned right side out and topstitched to hold the layers in place. T&T diapers don’t have exposed edges, all the rough edges are inside. The elastic can be right on the edges in a casing or set in from the edge leaving a ruffle. T&T diapers take more time to sew, so sometimes they are more expensive.


UBIPF - Common abbreviation for an UnBleached Indian Prefold Diaper
Unbleached - no chemical bleaching processes have been used. This does leave an initial waxy coating on the unwashed diaper. Therefore, it is important to wash your unbleached diapers 3 or 4 times in hot water prior to use.


Velour - Velour is a soft, plush fabric that has been knitted and then sheared at a uniform level. Diaper velour is usually 100% cotton or an 80/20 blend. It remains soft and resists pilling.


WAHM - This abbreviation is commonly used for "Work At Home Mom".
Wool - Wool is a fabric made of fleece of sheep or lamb and is natures wonder fiber! The naturalness of it, water repelling properties and breathability are what make it popular for use as a diaper cover. When lanolized, urine reacts with the lanolin to form a natural soap, which makes your wool self-cleaning between washes!
Wool is not actually waterproof, but it is highly water repellent and has the ability to absorb moisture at a microscopic level. What this means is that wool needs to be washed less, is great for overnight use, and is not made with any synthetic materials.
Most cloth diaperers do save their wool wrap covers for night-time use since they can be bulkier than their vinyl or polyester counterparts.
Take special care when washing and drying your wool products or they will dry out and become stiff.
Wet bag - waterproof bags typically lined with PUL, used to store soiled diapers while out and about with baby. The bags can be washed right with your other diapers.
Wicking – Bad Wicking- Moisture escaping from the inside of the diaper to the outside. Wicking can occur with older, well worn, or poorly made diapers, and with fleece or wool. It can also occur when all of the diaper (flat, prefold or fitted) is not stuffed inside of the cover.
Good Wicking- The good kind of wicking is what happens when a stay-dry fabric such as microfleece or suedecloth is working properly. When a baby wets onto a wicking fabric like these, the moisture is pulled quickly through that layer into the absorbent layers below, leaving a drier surface behind. A limited wicking effect is obtained anytime you have more absorbent layers underneath the surface fabric. So a smooth cotton jersey will also have a wicking effect, because it is thin and can’t physically hold as much liquid as the thicker soaker layers below. A napped fabric like velour will also have a wicking effect, because the moisture is pulled downward, away from the tips of each fiber.

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