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The best diaper inserts September 7, 2008

Posted by Judy in Musings, Sewing projects.
Tags: ,

My project this morning was to discover which material produced the most absorbent inserts for our pocket dipes.  (Apparently, this seals my entry into nerddom! I always knew I was a music nerd, but who know I was a science nerd, too!)

We’ve been using several different fabrics:

1)  old cut up t-shirts, with each insert being 4 layers sewn together.

2)  this miracle cloth thing that is supposed to be used for washing cars or something, supposed to be really absorbent, each insert is just one layer.

3)  just started using some old cut up sweatshirts, with 2 layers sewn together

4)  someone suggested to use the microfiber cloths used for washing cars, so i found a really thick version at wal-mart, each insert is just one layer.

5)  the middle portion of a prefold (super thick, I think like 8 layers or something)

So the first step was to see which one absorbed the most before passing it on to the next layer.  I laid the samples on a sheet and poured 4 teaspoons (20 mL) of water on each. Then I sqeezed them out to see how much came out.  Surprisingly, the t-shirts squeezed out the least, while the microfiber cloth squeezed out the most.  The most absorbent was the prefold.

So then I decided to try to simulate a diaper situation.  I took inserts of each kind and then set the microfiber one on top, with the idea that the microfiber absorbed a bunch, it just couldn’t hang on to it.  So I figured if it was on top, it would quickly absorb the pee and then pass it on to the next layer.  For this portion, I only used the t-shirts, sweatshirt and miracle cloths.

I poured water on each one in 10 mL increments, checking to see if the liquid had soaked through the next layer and to see whether or not the sheet was wet.  I kept doing this and discovered that the sweatshirt didn’t even soak through to the first layer until after about 60-70mL!  The t-shirt, of course, soaked through quickly, but maintained it’s absorbency for quite some time.  I stopped at 100 mL with the t-shirt, because it was no longer absorbing water.  Here’s a chart of my discoveries.

Amount of liquid poured on (in mL)

Amount of liquid squeezed out (in mL)




Miracle cloth






So once again, the t-shirt held on to more of it’s liquid.  But as far as absorbency, the sweatshirt did the best.  I decided to try out the microfiber with two layers of sweatshirt.  It’s a bit different than just pouring water, since in a diaper the layers were under compression . . BUT, I think it worked out pretty well.  So for all the people the hype about microfiber being a great insert, my little experiment didn’t really prove that to be true.

Now my mission is to find some SUPER cheap sweatshirt material (I’m thinking of hitting Salvation Army on it’s 1/2 off Wednesdays) to make a bunch of inserts.  Of course, if I were willing to shell out the money, I’d just buy hemp or the microfiber terry, but I’m too cheap poor for that!  So sweatshirt material it is!


1. Rlape - September 7, 2008

Wow! lots experiments. good thing you found something that works.


2. Rlape - September 7, 2008

Have you tryed wool? oh! I think you mention once that you read about wool, I stated might itch, what do you think?

3. Judy - September 7, 2008

Wool works really well as a cover over the diaper since it will absorb lots of liquid without releasing it. But, you don’t want to use it for inserts because you can’t really wash it in the washing machine. You only wash the wool covers when they are dirty, and then you have to be careful and air dry them.

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