PUL, or polyurethane laminate, is a very popular material that is used as the waterproof element of most cloth nappies ie. the outer layer. PUL is an extremely useful fabric due to its great properties - it is breathable, stretchy, durable, quick to dry and most importantly water-resistant.
PUL is made from laminating a thin film of polyester or cotton with another thin film of polyurethane. Polyester-based PUL fabrics are best for leak prevention as cotton-based PUL tends to wick moisture to the outside of the nappy causing leaks. The polyester side of PUL is bright and soft whilst the other is duller and a bit sticky to the touch, although harmless to babies' skins.
PUL is easy to take care of by washing at 60°c or slightly cooler in order to preserve its waterproofing properties.
Fleece is the most common material used to line nappies and is therefore the fabric closest to babies' bottoms. Fleece normally refers to a synthetic fabric made completely out of polyester. This material is not absorbent but is very good at wicking moisture away thus leaving babies dry and comfortable. It is also easy to shake solids off from and when washed is stain free and quick drying.
Another type of fleece is the natural fleece which is made from natural fibres like cotton, bamboo and hemp. Although this material is more absorbent, it is less efficient at wicking away moisture than synthetic blends.
The following materials are most commonly used for absorbency layers in cloth nappies:
Microfibre is a synthetic material made out of polyester. The fibres of this materials are tiny and there are lots of them. This property makes microfibre very absorbent. Microfibre is light and can hold up to 8 times its weight in liquid. It is also quicker drying than other materials used in cloth nappy production.
Since microfibre holds liquid between its fibres, liquid can be forced back out similar to a sponge. This might cause leaks, better known as compression leaks. For smaller babies or light wetters, microfibre may be enough when used on its own however with older babies and heavy wetters, the material can become saturated and thus works best when used on top of cotton, bamboo or hemp.
Since microfibre is a man-made material, it is not biodegradable.
Cotton is a natural fibre and thus absorbs liquid inside the cells rather than between the cells like microfibre. This makes the material highly absorbent but slower to dry. Cotton can hold up to 27 times its weight in liquid. It is very breathable and will keep babies' bottoms nice and cool.
Cotton is very durable and can be washed at high temperatures. It can also take heat from dryers.
Typically cotton plants are plagued by pests and the material normally contains chemicals unless it specifically indicates that it is organic.
Hemp is a very slim but very thirsty material, making it ideal for boosting absorbency. It is, however, slow-absorbing and is best used when topped or blended with other materials such as cotton or microfibre.
Hemp has a similar structure to cotton but is stronger, more absorbent and more durable. Wearing, washing and drying makes the fibres less dense, thus increasing the spaces where liquid can be stored. It can take hemp up to 10 washes in order for it to reach maximum absorbency.
Hemp plants require very little water and can be harvested just 4 months after being sown. The plant also suppresses weeds and therefore hardly needs any pesticides.
Bamboo is a relatively new material in cloth nappy production. It is completely natural. Similar to hemp, bamboo is a very slim and thirsty material. As it is slow-absorbing, it is best used when topped or blended with cotton or microfibre. Bamboo is the slowest absorbing out of the materials more commonly used in cloth nappies.
Bamboo is a very soft material making it very attractive for use with babies' products. Similar to hemp, it grows quickly requiring no or very small amounts of pesticides. Bamboo fibres are naturally resistant to bacteria.
Bamboo is slow to dry and dislikes hot temperatures.
Still unsure of the differences?
Simply get in touch for a Free Consultation! Handling the nappies with your own hands will definitely eliminate any doubts you might still have.