Curious about Microfiber, Hemp, and Bamboo inserts? Is there a RIGHT way to use them in a cloth diaper?


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?

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About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jennifer is a 33 year old SAHM to one beautiful little girl named Sophia. She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her. Jennifer fell in love with cloth diapers even before Sophia was born and searches for ways every day to share the love!

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

13 Responses to “Curious about Microfiber, Hemp, and Bamboo inserts? Is there a RIGHT way to use them in a cloth diaper?”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Applecheeks bamboo is “viscose from bamboo” a type of rayon. Kawaii probably uses the same material, otherwise the fabric would be very different in how it feels. Rayon from bamboo is very soft, naturally bamboo is not soft.


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Lisa, there is no such thing as natural bamboo in cloth diapers. It appears that all bamboo is a processed rayon. All materials need some processing to make them into a final usable product. Hemp and then cotton are the closest things as probably least processed of the materials used in cloth diapers.


  2. judi Says:

    People keep saying there there are natural oils in bamboo but I can’t see how that’s possible. Bamboo fabric goes through such a complicated process to be made (it’s basically rayon) that any natural oils in the bamboo would have to be gone. The only difference between bamboo rayon and other rayon is that other types of rayon are made from trees instead of bamboo.Is there any evidence that bamboo has anti-microbial properties? I thought I read that there was no proof of that. I believe hemp does though. I’m hoping to replace my microfiber inserts with flats soon! Easier to wash!


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Judy, Thanks for posting. Not all bamboo fabric is made into Rayon. Not all bamboo inserts contain bamboo rayon from my understanding. I believe Kawaii has a 100% organic bamboo insert, I’m sure there are others. You are correct that the rayon does not have any natural oils. But other bamboo fabrics do. If it is of the bamboo (not rayon) then it keeps the anti-microbial properties.


        • judi Says:

 This is what patagonia says about it. Couldn’t that fabric from kawaii and applecheeks be rayon? I’ve seen rayon blended with other fabrics.


          • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

            Dirty Diaper Laundry’s post was from 2009. She stated in the post, “So, what does this mean for Bamboo in cloth diapers? First, since the FTC has changed the definition of Bamboo, diapers will now have to be labeled as Rayon or, if they can substantiate it, Rayon from Bamboo. They will still be able to call Organic Bamboo Velour just that, but from an ingredients standpoint the tag will have to read rayon. Take a cotton t shirt, it is labeled “cotton” but if you read the label it will most likely read “95% cotton 5% spandex”. In this case they can probably say “Organic Bamboo Velour” but the label will read “90% Rayon from Bamboo 10% cotton.”
            I cannot speak to the fact of whether or not the FTC has begun enforcing the rules, however I would lean towards assuming so because all this happened almost 5 years ago. I have not contacted Kawaii or applecheeks directly, but I did use directly what they have posted on their sites. And they have the material labeled as bamboo, not velour from bamboo or rayon
            Either way I still think bamboo in any form is a good material in cloth diapers.


            • judi Says:

              I agree that it is a nice fabric for diapers! I just think it’s important to not make claims that aren’t proven. My daughter snatches up the bamboo hoodies when they go on sale because the fabric is SO soft! :)


              • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

                What claim has been made that isn’t proven. Currently the FTC rules state that bamboo can only be used on the label if it is actually bamboo. The ones listed have bamboo on their label. So unless they are not following the law, it has to be bamboo.


                • judi Says:

                  The anti-microbial claim. I can’t find any evidence that that’s true. Like I said, I still think it’s great for diapers. It performs beautifully.


          • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

            Judi, I’ve emailed Kawaii and Applecheeks to see if I can get an answer to Exactly what they mean by bamboo. I will let you know when I get a reply. Thanks!



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