I see questions about this a lot. People ask what IS the difference between microfiber, hemp and bamboo? Is there a certain way that they have to be used? There is, let me explain!
Microfiber inserts are made from synthetic materials (i.e. man made). Super fast at absorbing wetness and just plain super absorbent. Used in many pocket and overnight diapers. They are the most inexpensive inserts there are. Microfiber dries fast in the dryer or clothes line.
Beware, microfiber inserts have a shorter lifespan than inserts from other material. Most people agree microfiber has a lifespan of about a year. At that point you may notice that it is not absorbing the same as it did and you may start to have leaks from around the legs. If stripping doesn’t work, you may need to replace them. Due to the nature of the material these are made of they tend to hold on to stink and ammonia easier than inserts made of natural fibers. I have heard claims that people have to strip these more often than other inserts. I have not had to do this myself. But I am a Tide user, so that might have something to do with it. These are also not the trimmest inserts, I would say they are about a medium range of bulky.
How to prep: Microfiber inserts can be washed with other cloth diapers to be prepped. It is recommended that they are washed and dried 2-3 times to reach maximum absorbency.
How to use: Microfiber inserts should NEVER be placed directly against baby’s skin. This is because these inserts are SO absorbent that when placed directly against baby, they will actually pull moisture out of the skin causing redness and possibly a rash. As long as there is some sort of fabric between inserts and baby you are safe.
Hemp is a natural fiber that when used in an insert is incredibly absorbent, trim and naturally antimicrobial. Hemp inserts hold about 2.5x more fluid than microfiber! Great nighttime solution when used behind microfiber inserts. Hemp will get softer and more absorbent the more it is washed. It is also extremely durable. You will often see hemp/cotton blends in inserts. Thirsties Hemp Inserts are my favorite to double up with. We use 2 large Thirsties Hemp Inserts in my 18 month olds night diaper in addition to the microfiber inserts. Totally bullet proof, 12 plus hours and no leaks!
How to prep: Inserts that are made from natural fibers such as hemp and bamboo contain natural oils. Because of this they should be washed at least 3x separately with a small amount of detergent and hot water as to not deposit oils on other cloth diapers possibly causing repelling. Most hemp inserts require 8 hot washes with drying to reach full absorbency.
How to use: Hemp is a slow, stable absorber. Because of this, place under (furthest away from baby’s skin) another insert such as cotton or microfiber. You are fine though to put it directly against baby’s skin.
Bamboo is a highly absorbent antimicrobial natural fiber. Due to bamboo’s short growth cycle it is a very renewable resource making it a great environmentally friendly cloth diapering choice. Bamboo inserts remain soft wash after wash, unlike many other materials. *Update* Kawaii Baby and Applecheeks both have great 100% bamboo inserts/doublers. Rayon from bamboo, while still super absorbent, does not retain the antimicrobial properties. You will often see bamboo/rayon and polyester mixes for these inserts. My favorite bamboo inserts are from Ragababe, 2 layers of unbleached organic cotton sherpa with 2 layers of bamboo rayon on the inside!
How to prep: Please see how to prep hemp. It is the same procedure.
How to use: Bamboo inserts can be placed anywhere you like! ;) No danger of harming babies skin or not absorbing fast enough and getting leaks.
Check out Autumn’s post for suggestions on inserts she loves!
Do you have a favorite material that you like to use for inserts and cloth diapers? Any ones you avoid?