Cloth Diaper Lingo

Although definitions of many terms and abbreviations are scattered between my articles and resources I decided to make a glossary of some of the popular cloth diaper terms and lingo. This list is not exhaustive so I may add more terms down the road.

  • AIO (All In One) - A diaper with a waterproof outer shell/cover, inner lining and soaker all sewn in one. The most similar to the convenience of a disposable diaper, but longer drying time.
  • AI2 (All In Two) - A diaper with a waterproof shell/cover and liner sewn together and a soaker that can be tucked, snapped or placed in and traded out so the cover can be reused.
  • Aplix - Hook and Look used for diaper and laundry tab closures (a.k.a. “velcro”, but not the Velcro brand)
  • Bamboo Fabric - A popular fabric used in diapers for it’s high absorbency and it’s an eco-friendly option as bamboo is sustainable and thrives without the use of pesticides. Bamboo also has antimicrobial properties although it is unclear how these properties play out in bamboo fabrics. It is typically blended with cotton or polyester.
  • Contour Diaper - A cross between a fitted diaper and a prefold, the diaper is made entirely of absorbent material, but lacks closures like snaps or Velcro. Traditionally there is no elastic either, although versions with elastic have come out.
  • Cloth Wipes - Cloth wipes can be made of many different fabrics such as terry, flannel, cotton, fleece, sherpa and velour. They are convenient to use with cloth diapers, because they can be washed together with your diapers.
  • DD/DS/DH - Dear Daughter/Dear Son/Dear Husband.
  • Diaper Cover - Used with prefolds, contour and fitted diapers these provide a waterproof barrier and can be reused with multiple diaper changes. Made from PUL, fleece or wool.
  • Diaper Pail - A pail or garbage bin used to store soiled diapers.
  • Diaper Sprayer - Can be installed without the need of a plumber to the toilet and used to spray off solids from soiled diapers, to clean training potties, for personal hygiene or to clean the bath!
  • Doubler - An extra insert, typically smaller and thinner to add extra absorption. Typically used in a pocket diaper, but can be set on top of the diaper, depending on the fabric used.
  • EC (Elimination Communication) - The practice of learning the cues of and teaching a child to communicate their need to “eliminate” and as a result minimize the use of diapers or potty train at an earlier age. Timing, signals, cues and intuition are the core methods used.
  • Fitted Diaper - Made entirely of absorbent materials it also has elastic and closures. Requires a diaper cover.
  • FL/TL – Abbreviations for Front Loading or Top Loading washing machines.
  • FOE (Fold Over Elastic) - Elastic, typically 1” in width that can be folded over and sewn to serve both as a binding and elastic for cloth diapers and training pants.
  • Hemp Fabric - A popular “thirsty” fabric it is a popular choice for it’s natural, sustainable nature and high absorbency. Popular nighttime fabric, for heavy wetters or as a natural fabric option.
  • Lanolin - Also known as wool wax or wool grease it comes from sheep and is used to waterproof wool covers. Also used for sore nipples when breastfeeding.
  • Laundry Tabs - A feature on most diapers with aplix closures these small tabs allow the aplix to be secured so it doesn’t get caught on other items in the dryer.
  • Liner - Can be either reusable or disposable, a liner helps make clean up easier or should be used when using diaper creams or ointments. In the latter case, it helps keep build up from forming in the main diaper.
  • Longies - Wool pants that are used as a diaper cover and pants in one. Needs to be lanolized like any wool cover and may be reused until soiled.
  • Microfleece - A thin layer of fleece that allows moisture to pass and wicks it away from baby’s bottom into the soaker. Also may be used for reusable liners to set in the diaper to make clean up easier or when using diaper creams.
  • Microterry - Used for diaper inserts and soakers it is a highly absorbent synthetic material. It should NOT be put against your baby’s skin, however, as it can dry out skin.
  • OS (One Size) Diaper - A diaper that can be adjusted in the rise (usually with front snaps or adjustable elastic) to grow with you baby. Some brands get small enough to fit a 4 lb. baby and other brands get large enough to fit a 40 lb. child. A typical size range is 7-35 lbs.
  • Pail Liner - A bag usually made with PUL or TPU and elastic to line a diaper pail to store soiled diapers. They typically fit standard kitchen trash cans although pails marketed for cloth diapers may also be purchased.
  • Pocket Diaper - A diaper with a waterproof outer and inner lining with a pocket opening at the back of the diaper where an insert may be stuffed. These are available as sized diapers, are the most popular style for one size diapers and are also a feature on some all-in-one diapers.
  • Prefold - a rectangular diaper available in many sizes and fabrics, cotton being the most popular. These diapers are the “old school” diapers that are the most affordable cloth diapering option.
  • PUL - Polyurethane laminated fabric or basically laminated fabric. 1mil and 2mil are the most common thicknesses of the lamination with cloth diapers and accessories and both cotton and polyester fabrics may be laminated. The polyurethane (plastic) layer serves as a waterproof barrier, but has some breathability.
  • Shorties - Wool shorts that can be used as a cover and clothing in one.
  • Sleeve Style Diaper - A variation on a pocket diaper where there is a pocket opening on both the front AND back of the diaper creating a “sleeve” where the insert can agitate out in the wash. This cuts down on the messy part of pocket diapers as you need to take out the insert when putting them in the diaper pail.
  • Snappi - Plastic closures in a “T” shape that have tooth-like hooks to grab on to the fabric of a prefold or contour diaper. This is a safer alternative to the traditional pins.
  • Snap press/pliers - Tools used to apply plastic snaps to diapers, inserts, or baby accessories. Not a required tool for regular cloth diaper users, but great if you want to make your own diapers or baby accessories.
  • Soakers - Wool covers, typically pull up like underwear, that are used as a diaper cover. This can also be a term for a disposable or reusable insert that can be place in certain AI2 diapers.
  • Stripping - The process of getting build up out of diaper fabric, inserts and liners. Build up may be caused by diaper creams and detergents containing perfumes or additives. Build up can cause wicking, and as a result leaking, so the best prevention is to use a cloth diaper approved detergent and liners when using creams or ointments.
  • Sunning -A method of stain removal where clothing and diapers are set in direct sunlight. Add a squeeze of lemon juice for added results.
  • TPU- Another form of fabric lamination similar to PUL that is available in biodegradable versions.
  • Wet bag - A bag made of PUL used to store diapers. Drawstring, zippered and Velcro closures are the most common.
  • Wicking - When moisture repels on the inside of the diaper causing leaks due to its inability to be absorbed in the soaker. Wicking is caused by build up in diapers and they will need to be stripped of the residues to resolve this issue (see Stripping).
  • Wipes solution - A solution used with cloth wipes to add cleansing, moisturizing or soothing properties. Many recipes and solutions are available and they can be used in a wipes case, warmer or in a spray bottle.

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