Microfiber v. Hemp v. Bamboo: Choosing the Best Cloth Diaper for Your Baby

I was very excited when Buttons Diapers recently released their NEW bamboo inserts in small, large, and super sizes!  They sent me some of their bamboo inserts to try out, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to answer some frequently-asked questions about cloth diaper insert fabrics and help you choose the best one for your baby.

What I did:

I took three of the Buttons small inserts (one microfiber, one hemp, and one bamboo) and placed each of them in a dry pan.  I poured water over them until the insert was completely saturated.  Any leftover water in the pan was returned to the measuring cup.  I also held the insert over the measuring cup until water quit dripping out, then measured what was left in the cup.  Finally, I gave the insert a gentle squeeze to see if any more water would drip out into the cup and measured again.

Microfiber

(soft and squishy feeling insert with white ridges)IMG_7478

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): While I didn’t officially test the speed the microfiber insert absorbed water, visually, I could see it soaked up water much faster than the hemp or bamboo inserts.  The Buttons Small insert was able to absorb 3/4 c. of water, but when I gave it a light squeeze, it only held 1/2 c. of water.

Cost:  Microfiber is a very affordable insert option.  It is the least expensive of the three fabrics, making it a popular choice for people who cloth diaper to save money.

Softness: Very soft and fluffy. Microfiber stays soft even when it is saturated with liquid.

Other thoughts:

  • You must have a stay-dry liner between microfiber material and the baby’s skin.  Buttons inserts have this stay-dry liner sewn on to the top of the insert, so you don’t have to worry about it.  If you touch a lot of microfiber inserts (like stuffing pockets), you will notice it does dry out your hands.
  • Does not hold as much liquid when compressed/squeezed.
  • Microfiber is known to get stinky if they get really old, or if they aren’t washed thoroughly enough.  Thankfully, I haven’t had that experience with the Buttons microfiber inserts!

Choose microfiber if: 

  • You need an affordable insert solution.
  • You have a baby who quickly soaks their diapers.
  • You want a stay-dry barrier between the diaper and your baby’s skin.

 

Hemp

(dense fabric, usually off white in color, can be smooth or fluffy in appearance)IMG_7479

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The Buttons small hemp insert absorbed a little more than 3/4 c. of water!  When I gave the insert a gentle squeeze, it still held onto 3/4 c. of water.

Cost:  Hemp is the most expensive of the three insert types that Buttons sells.

Softness: In my experience, hemp is the least soft of the three different insert materials.  It can get stiff and even slightly rough feeling if you air dry the insert.  HOWEVER, Buttons has figured out a way to put the soft and fluffy side of hemp on the outside layer of their inserts, and I’ve found that their hemp inserts are the softest I’ve tried!  So they still get a point in my book.  🙂

Other thoughts:

  • While I didn’t officially measure absorbency speed, hemp is known for being the slowest to absorb liquid.  I could visually see a difference between the hemp and microfiber absorbency speeds when I was testing it.
  • Insert can bunch up and stiffen when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!

Choose hemp if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want a natural fiber insert with a stay-dry liner on top (Buttons is one of the few brands to offer this!)
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.  
  • You need a trim insert to fit nicely under clothes (hemp inserts are popular for being absorbent AND thin!).

 

Bamboo

(soft dense fabric, usually white in color and smooth, though some brands can be more like a terry cloth texture)IMG_7481

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The new Buttons small bamboo insert absorbed 3/4 c. of water, and didn’t leak at all when I gave it a gentle squeeze!  It was slower to absorb than microfiber, but I didn’t see much difference in speed between bamboo and hemp.

Cost:  The Buttons bamboo insert is slightly less expensive than their hemp insert option, but still almost twice the cost of microfiber.

Softness: The bamboo fabric is very soft and smooth to the touch.  It does become hard and stiff when soaked.

Other thoughts:

  •  Slow to dry.
  • Insert feels stiff and hard when wet.
  • Insert can bunch up when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!
  • The Buttons bamboo inserts shrunk up a lot while being prepped.  It is visually smaller than their hemp and microfiber counterparts, even though it started out larger.  I think bamboo could beat out hemp and microfiber for absorbency IF the prepped size was closer the hemp and microfiber inserts.

Choose bamboo if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want natural fibers against your baby’s skin.
  • You need a faster absorbing fabric than hemp.
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.

 

I hope that gives you a better understanding of the three main cloth diaper fabrics and how to choose the right one for your baby. I personally have all three insert types and love them all!   You can check out all of Buttons Diapers’ products here.  Leave me a comment and let me know which one you’d pick!

Want to see how the entire Buttons diaper system works?  Check out my review here.  Also, keep an eye on my blog, I’ll be posting a review of their NEW newborn and super diaper sizes soon!

I received a Buttons diaper free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.  This post may contain affiliate links.

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