CottonCotton is grown in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It comes from the fluffy fibres that grow around the seeds of the cotton plant. Once harvested the fibres are spun into a thread and can be used to make items of clothing. Cotton is strong, durable, absorbent, soft and relatively quick to dry, making it ideal for nappies!
Some nappies are made from terry cotton which has a raised pile making it soft, fluffy and absorbent. Organic and/or unbleached cotton doesn’t have such a harsh impact on the environment as ‘regular’ cotton because fewer chemicals are used in farming and manufacture; but this does mean they produce a smaller yield and can be more expensive.
Making textiles from Bamboo is a fairly recent development and is becoming ever more popular thanks to the low impact it has on the environment. Bamboo is extremely fast growing and because it is a type of grass it can be continually harvested. It is a cheap, sustainable and extremely efficient crop.
The process of harvesting bamboo is also much kinder to the local environment than the industrial methods used to harvest cotton. Thanks to its natural ability to resist pests, bamboo needs much less chemical treatment in comparison to cotton. Bamboo fabric is strong, durable, incredibly soft and breathable too. Amazingly it is up to 40% more absorbent than cotton, but that does mean it takes longer to dry.
Made from the processed stems of the plant, hemp fibre is another environmentally friendly crop. It grows extremely fast in any kind of climate, does not exhaust the soil, uses little water and requires little or no pesticides or herbicides.
Hemp produces a very soft and absorbent fabric; it is very durable and gets softer with every wash. Its super-soft and absorbent properties make it ideal for booster pads or night time nappies. Again, because of its high absorbency rate it can take longer to dry than cotton.
Microfibre is a synthetic man-made fabric mainly made from polyesters; the material is tough but very soft to the touch.
It is extremely good at wicking away moisture from the skin and is often used in high performance sports clothes, but that also means it’s great for nappies and particularly booster pads!
Also if drying your nappies is an issue or you’re in a hurry, microfibre is fantastic, it will be almost dry after a spin cycle in your washing machine.
Made from the same materials as microfibre but machined to give a fluffy texture, fleece is very similar to wool and is often used as the uppermost layer of a nappy, which goes next to baby’s skin. It is also the perfect material for washable liners. Fleece, like microfibre is also very quick drying, ideal for those winter days.
A fleece layer next to baby’s skin is very soft and also keeps baby’s skin drier as it has very similar moisture wicking properties to microfibre. Fleece is great for washable liners as solids don’t stick to fleece and can be shaken off into the toilet. If the nappy you are using has a fleece layer, you do not need to use a liner, although some parents prefer to for convenience.
Fleece is sometimes used as an outer wrap in place of the more traditional PUL varieties. Although, not waterproof, fleece is water repellent and as long as the wrap is absorbent enough, you shouldn’t experience any leaks. Fleece is used for outer wraps because the material is very breathable, allowing a good circulation of air to the nappy area.
Wool is fantastic resource and with around 36 million sheep in the UK alone there is definitely no problem when it comes to sustainability!
Environmentally friendly, 100% natural, waterproof and breathable, wool wraps are ideal for babies with extra sensitive skin.
Wool allows your baby’s skin to breathe more than the PUL wraps and can be of benefit to babies who suffer from nappy rash or eczema. They are also naturally antibacterial and so do not hold odours.
To ensure that your wool wrap retains its waterproof qualities you do need to lanolise it about once a month.
PUL (polyurethane laminate)
PUL is the name given to a fabric that has been laminated with a thin film of (you guessed it) polyurethane! This is what makes the 100% waterproof layer on nappy wraps, most wraps are made from laminated cotton but it’s possible to laminate many different fabrics.
Thanks to modern technology PUL is breathable as well as waterproof, it might not be as breathable as wool or fleece but it more than makes up for it by being extremely durable and practical.
With the majority of All-in-One and Pocket Nappies the waterproof layer is hidden inside, leaving the outer layer free for all kinds of delightful fabrics and fantastic designs.
Cloth Nappy Shop discounts!- 09/05/13 3:10pm
Cloth Nappy Shop have discounted rates on a selection of nappies and wraps.Find out more >
Nappy Bliss - Green Mum nominated for 2 awards- 03/05/13 12:55pm
You’re invited to help ethical business mum spread the nappy know how
Nappy expert Rose Glendinning is in the running for two top business awards.
Jeremy Irons top 10 eco tips- 02/05/13 2:58pm
Trashed films and the actor, Jeremy Irons will present a documentary listing 10 small things that we can all do to help the environment. Real Nappies feature in the list!Find out more >
Have your Say - 'Call for Evidence'- 26/04/13 10:55am
The 29th April deadline is looming to submit your comments into the 'Call for Evidence' to help Defra develop a Waste Prevention Programme.Find out more >
West Berkshire Nappuccino May 2013- 25/04/13 2:24pm
On Wednesday 1 May, West Berkshire residents can visit the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham to learn about Real Nappies, arrange a free trial and find out how to get £30 cash back on real nappy purchases.Find out more >