How Much Liquid Do Cloth Diapers Really Hold?

November 14, 2014

Cloth Diapers, Recommended, Reviews, Slider

All cloth diapers are not created equal. Neither are their inserts. I have my favorites. The ones I kept in my stash even after trying so many alternatives. The ones I know will be safe to use when stuffing a nap or overnight cloth diaper. I can’t say I’m really surprised by the results from this little experiment. It is pretty cool to see real numbers of what these can actually hold.

Cloth Diaper Absorbancy Test

Real Diaper Association is holding their School of Cloth. This week is Cloth Diaper Absorbency. They are encouraging all cloth diaper users to do their own experiment and share the results! From RDA’s blog, here is their call to action: (My results are right after this!)

The Real Diaper Association focuses on fact based evidence. Some of that evidence comes from collecting data from our own experiments (like our yeast in cloth diapers experiment), interviews with experts, good old fashioned research, and cloth diaper users like you! This week, we designed a quick experiment for cloth diaper users to measure the absorbency of one or more of their diapers. The more diapers you test and results you submit, the better data we will have to publish!

Experiment:

  1. Measure and pour 4 cups (32 oz.) of water into a large bowl. (I used 42 oz for fitteds.)
  2. Place the diaper or insert in the bowl until saturated.
  3. Lightly squeeze just enough liquid out of the diaper to stop it from dripping.
  4. Measure how much liquid is left in the bowl and subtract this number from the original 32 oz. to find out how much water your diaper or insert absorbed.

*For added information about how well fabric holds on to liquid*

  1. Place your saturated diaper in a casserole dish on a counter or table with a folded towel under one side so that it is leaning just a bit.
  2. Press down on the diaper with your hand to simulate a baby sitting in the diaper.
  3. Lift your diaper out of the casserole dish and measure the amount of water that the diaper released with this moderate pressure.

Repeat the experiment with other fabrics and/or styles of diapers. Comment below with your results and make sure to include:

  • Type of fabric (cotton, hemp, bamboo, microfiber, minkey, zorb, etc.)
  • The style and brand (if known) of diaper or insert (Infant Prefold, OsoCozy All-In-One/AIO, birdseye flat, Happy Heine microfiber etc.)
  • Ounces of water the diaper absorbed
  • Ounces of water the diaper released with moderate pressure

My Results

Please note that these results were obtained by following the above procedure. The ounces of liquid are what was held by one of each listed insert. (This is not a guarantee of what yours will hold.) I continually update this as I have more brands to add.

For the second part of the experiment I found when I put pressure on most that no water was released. My tray was only damp from touching the wet insert. This was the same for each insert except for the Microfiber and Charcoal Bamboo Insert (CBI). They did release some liquid under pressure.  This is also known as compression leaks. (BTW, OS stands for one size.)

Actual Ounces of Warm Water Held:

Inserts/Doublers/Prefolds/Flats

Fitted Results (check out the amount on that first one!!! I was blown away!)

Please note that there are varying numbers of inserts included with each of the fitteds listed below. That obviously can affect absorbency as well as the cost to you.

Overnight Fitteds: (These are specifically created and labeled for nights.)

Fitteds and Hybrid Fitteds:

AIO Results

There you have it!

There are a few things to take into consideration besides just the amount of liquid held. Here are my thoughts:

Trimness…Geffen Baby wins on this one. You can already see their prefold held the most amount of liquid. Don’t misjudge the Geffen’s Super Absorbers though. They seem like they are paper thin. You can easily stuff 3 Super Absorbers and be at about the same thickness as one of the Geffen Prefolds. The Thirsties Hemp Inserts and Joeybunz are also trim.  If you are wanting to add absorbency to it for nights, you want something super trim to yet absorbent. This allows you to have enough to soak up a ton yet not be really bulky. I would say all of the AIO’s listed are pretty trim.

The GroVia Soaker and Booster combination is fairly trim and was one of my favorites until Sophia was about a year old. They only had enough absorbency for day use here. The soaker could make it though a nap if I added a Thirsties Hemp insert in addition to the booster (I usually tucked the Thristies Hemp Insert under the top layer of the GroVia Soaker). But this was never a night option here as it just didn’t pack enough punch.

This experiment included the more absorbent inserts that I knew I had, many of which are already on My Recommedations page.

Sophia is 27 months now. My current favorite day combo is a Geffen Baby Jersey Hemp Prefold pad folded in any of my covers.

For naps, it’s 2 Geffen Baby Super Absorbers Plus with a Sweet Pea Cover (its got gussets and a high rise so perfect for an older baby and can be stuffed to the max).

At night we are using 3 Thirsties Hemp Inserts with a Ragababe Insert on top (the cotton sherpa on the Ragababe insert acts as a stay dry layer and pulls moisture away from baby). I’m starting to use the Geffen Baby Super Absorber Plus at night and really love them. They the thinnest of the super absorbent inserts. I cover with any cover I have with leg gussets as this is the only kind that I find that can take all these layers and not gap on Sophia’s legs. Right now my favorites are Blueberry Coveralls or the one Sweet Pea cover I have. I used to love the Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetters, but as Sophia got bigger, I just couldn’t stop the legs from getting gaps…and because of that, leaks.

Another favorite night option of mine are my Twinkie Tush Night Nights, Kissing Black night fitted or Truly Charis fitted and a Woollybottoms wool cover. The Truly Charis is mind blowingly trim and soft and you can see that is another knock your socks off option. These three are all well worth the money.  A Pooters fitted is an amazing value for the money at only $14! I did need to add one more insert to get it too go night for me, but it’s such an awesome price. If you are on a budget they are worth looking into. If you need more help with night cloth diapering, please check this out.

I encourage you to participate in the experiment and share the results via social media by using the hashtags #SchoolOfCloth #clothdiaperabsorbency. Share your findings here as well  or just give a shout out to your favorite absorbent cloth diapers and inserts!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. By shopping through them, you are supporting this blog and my family and I SUPER thank you for that!

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About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jenn is a WAHM to two beautiful little girls. Sophia (4.5 years old) and Norah (4 months). She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her first daughter. Now Jenn spends her time spreading the love of fluff and sharing common sense answers that help to make cloth diapers easy for everyone.

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

37 Responses to “How Much Liquid Do Cloth Diapers Really Hold?”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Omg take it back. I started reading this at 3am when nursing! I totally missed that you spelled out your procedures.

    Thanks!

    Reply

  2. Kelly Says:

    Can you tell me how you tested these? I.e. Dripping wet, starting to leak or just moist on the outside (fitted). Im looking specifically at the night time diapers and am trying to decide if I want to try the Twinkie Tustin, and wait for the order of their night-night.

    Thanks!
    Kelly

    Reply

  3. katie Says:

    I’ve read great reviews on Geffen and now I know why, that brand is awesome!

    Reply

  4. Alicia C Says:

    A very comprehensive list. I was going to ask about how cotton and cotton/bamboo prefolds match up, since I don’t see them in your list and they are such a basic insert for CD’ing. Have you updated this list since last testing in 2014? Is there a link? Ty!

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Yes, I stated in the post that I am continually updating it. I test what I personally have in my possession. I do have a number of prefolds that I need to add and plan to do so in the next month or so. Please check back.

      Reply

  5. Amber Ludwig Says:

    Whoa this is AWESOME info!! I am totally pinning this for my next baby and cd buying frenzy!! So fabulous!!

    Reply

  6. Deborah D Says:

    I would not want to let a diaper get that full.

    Reply

  7. Jessica C. Says:

    I keep seeing people recommend the Thirsties Duo hemp prefold, and now I know why! I think I’ll have to get a few of those before I try cloth diapering at night!

    Reply

  8. Amanda Felton Says:

    Wow. Awesome experiment. Must have taken some time to complete all of this. I never thought to do this to test the products that I have. I was always curious as to the hold factor of the liquid. My LO drinks a lot and always seems to soak his diapers every time. Thank you for doing this and posting! very helpful information.

    Reply

  9. Zoe Says:

    Anyone test a bbumgenius freetime?? Or what about a thx bamboo fitted? Very curious as I THINK I have a heavy wetter but how do you actually decide that? What amount of pee means you have a heavy wetter?? I use thx bamboo fitteds but WOA I may have to try the twinkie tush one that held an incredible amount!

    Reply

  10. Nancy Josselyn Says:

    I’d be curious to see how AMP 3 ply hemp inserts stack up against the others.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Nancy, I am getting ready to add another 10 or so brands to this. Unfortunately, Amp isn’t one I currently have to test. I CAN tell you that AMP diapers in general are very well made.

      Reply

  11. Marisa Says:

    Awesome post. Curious about how you tested the AIOs – did you completely submerge the diaper in the water? Ie the outside also wet? My thoughts are that the amount of liquid it is able to hold should be without the outside getting wet (ie leaking). I do understand the method for fitteds as the entire thing is supposed to get wet. I’ve done some absorbency tests on my blog as well and want to branch out into AIOs now, but going back & forth with myself about method of testing. Perhaps I’m overthinking?

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      For the AIO’s the entire diaper is submerged. The PUL isn’t absorbent anyway. So only the usual stuff that absorbs anyway will hold water. Just as it does on a child. I want to say that this is as scientific as I could make it in my kitchen. But far from perfect. I like to think these numbers give a great idea of how cloth diapers absorbency stack up against each other.

      Reply

  12. Kelly L Says:

    Have you tested the fsts from Wal-Mart? I’m going to make some inserts from them but I want to match the absorbancy of cbis so I’m not sure if one alone will be enough.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      I have but I haven’t updated the post yet. I’ll have to double check but I think they were about the same as what one MF insert holds. Maybe 8 oz. They are trim, so it’s also a good option for doubling something up.

      Reply

  13. Nur Says:

    Hi! I simply want to offer you a big thmubs up forthe excellent information you have got here on this post.I am coming back to your blog for more soon.

    Reply

  14. Gina Says:

    Have you tried the hemp babies inserts? How do they compare?

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      I have tried them. I unfortunately have not tested them though but will make sure to get them in on the next update. They are very trim and I’d say are probably in the 6-8 oz range if I compare them via real life usage (so not actual testing the way I did here). Thanks for asking and keep following <3

      Reply

  15. Meg Says:

    Has anyone done Flip inserts? Night time and day time? Thanks!

    Reply

  16. Alix K Says:

    I’m interested in the absorbency of Grovia prefolds. May have to try this experiment on my own!

    Reply

  17. Felicia Alfaro Says:

    Hi! I have the Geffen prefolds with fleece. Would these hold about the same amount of liquid as the jersey that you tested? Do you not like the fleece for a particular reason? Just wondering :) thanks!

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      I actually have to test them. I thought I had, but I don’t see it. I’ll make sure I get that added Felicia! Thank you. I personally prefer the Jersey hemp because it has a smooshy soft feel that the fleece doesn’t have. I think that they are probably around the same absorbency though but I’ll confirm once I test.

      Reply

  18. hillary Says:

    With the Truly Charis fitted, did you test with all the included inserts? I have one and only use the snake style insert otherwise I can’t get a good fit on my skinny boy. I’ve really wanted to try the sweet pea fitted because they are so squishy but that is a big difference in absorbency. Have you tried any Truly Charis hemp flats? Or sweet pea prefolds?

    Reply

  19. Brooke Says:

    have you tested to see how much liquid a GMD workhorse fitted holds? Specifically,size large. I’m interested to know how they compare to the sustainablebabyish overnight fitted that we have now.

    Reply

  20. Linda Manns Linneman Says:

    This is a great test to perform. I appreciate you sharing all your review information. Have a great day

    Reply

  21. Tara Scarlavai Says:

    Wow!! This is, by far, one of THE most interesting entries I’ve read regarding cloth diapers!! Thanks for taking the time to experiment and share info with us! I’m making this experiment my “homework” for tonight, thanks for the inspiration, Jennifer and Kimberly!

    Reply

  22. Trisha W. Says:

    I’m not 100% positive, but I think Padded Tush Stats may have shared some information on this topic as well.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      There are many posts available from cloth diaper blogs. PTS has info on this as does change-diapers.com. :)

      Reply

  23. Kimberly Worrell Says:

    [ ] Sbish doubler – 2oz
    [ ] Softbums bamboo doubler – 2oz
    [ ] Thirsties hemp insert – 4oz
    [ ] Small cotton prefold – 4oz
    [ ] Babykicks hemp insert lg – 4oz
    [ ] Fst – 4oz
    [ ] Babykicks red hemp prefold non-prep – 5oz
    [ ] 12×18″ cotton prefold – 8oz
    [ ] The Happy Hippo (wham) Hemp flat – 8oz
    [ ] Softbums os bamboo – 8oz
    [ ] Mother ease bamboo – 9oz
    [ ] Prefix med – 10oz
    [ ] Thirsties hemp prefold – 10oz
    [ ] Grovia kiwipie – 10 oz
    [ ] Fancy cloth hemp fitted – 10oz
    [ ] The Happy Hippo (wham) hemp fitted lg – 11oz
    [ ] Sbish obf med – 11oz
    [ ] Sbish snapless – 13oz
    [ ] The Happy Hippo (wham) Heavy hemp flat – 13oz

    Reply

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