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All About Cloth Diaper Inserts

New to cloth diapers? Want to add new cloth diaper inserts to your stash? Here’s everything you to need to know about cloth diaper inserts!

Don’t let cloth diapering overwhelm you. It really is easy and green. If you’re wondering how do cloth diapers work, you’re likely wondering what the best cloth diaper inserts and diaper liners are.

FAQs Cloth Diaper Inserts

Here’s a breakdown of different types of diaper inserts and answers to all your questions.

Whether you’re a veteran at cloth diapering or a newbie, it can be overwhelming when you start looking at all of the choices in how to cloth diaper and what type of cloth diapers to use.

Pocket diapers, Hybrids, and Fitteds & Covers all use different cloth diaper inserts and materials. So, in this post, we’re looking at the different types of cloth diaper inserts, boosters, and diaper liners that are most popular in the cloth diapering world and their purpose.

What are cloth diaper inserts?

Cloth diaper inserts are the part of the diaper that absorbs liquid. They are essentially the “workhorse” of the cloth diaper. For example, a pocket diaper with no insert, well, it wouldn’t do you any good at all!

Cloth diaper inserts usually come with a cloth diaper, but they are available to buy individually.

How do you use cloth diaper inserts?

Inserts can go in the pocket of a diaper or lay in a cover and sit directly against baby’s skin – EXCEPT FOR MICROFIBER. Microfiber should never be placed directly against your baby’s bottom. It pulls in moisture and could dry out your child’s skin. More on that below.

Cloth diaper inserts can be made from a variety of materials, but the most common are: Microfiber, Minky, Bamboo, Organic Cotton, and Hemp inserts. 

All of these materials are used for different reasons – some absorb fast, some slow; some absorb more, some less.

  • Microfiber – This material absorbs liquids fast. It’s cheap and does a great job as a cloth diaper insert, which is why so many manufacturers use it.  The downsides of microfiber are: It can’t be put against baby’s skin, it’s known for holding in smells like “microfiber funk”, it can be bulky if you need to add more than 1 insert for a heavy wetter.
  • Minky – It’s extremely trim and seems to hold about the same as a microfiber insert that is comparable in size.
  • Bamboo – This material is super absorbent and is often used in conjunction with a Hemp Blend. You’ll often see Charcoal Bamboo inserts used in cloth diapering.
  • Organic Cotton – This material is organic, which is very important to some. It does tend to dry stiff if you air dry, but is a relatively good absorber.
  • Hemp – The Cadillac of Inserts – It will hold about 2.5x the amount of a microfiber insert comparable in size and is very trim.

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Expert Tip: Everyone always asks my favorite type of cloth diaper insert and I answer quickly… hemp. It just worked the best for my girls and my favorite way to use them was with a thin microfiber insert laid on top of a thin hemp insert inside a pocket diaper.

What is a cloth diaper booster?

Cloth diaper inserts can also be referred to as boosters. Just think of adding an extra insert as in “boosting the absorbency”. Boosters are simply extra cloth diaper inserts.

Cloth Diaper Liners:

Cloth diaper liners sit on the top layer of a diaper and protect your baby’s bottom, as well as the cloth diaper.

Liners are a cloth diapering accessory that have nothing to do with absorbency.

There are 2 different types of Diaper Liners [reusable and disposable] which are primarily used for 3 different reasons:

  • Protect your diapers from diaper creams.
  • Keep your baby’s skin drier.
  • Easy clean-up of diapers [especially useful when traveling with cloth diapers].
What Are Cloth Diaper Liners? Answers to all your questions

Reusable Diaper Liners: This type of diaper liner is usually made from fleece and can be washed with your diaper laundry [unless they have lots of diaper cream on them, in which case I would suggest washing separately].

You can purchase reusable liners from many cloth diaper stores or simply make your own reusable diaper liners! Cut up strips of fleece, bought from a craft store, and lay them in your cloth diapers.

DIY Reusable Cloth Diaper Liners

Disposable Cloth Diaper Liners: These are very, very thin sheets of liners that are almost like toilet paper sheets. They lay into your diaper the same way as reusable ones, but they are meant to be thrown away. Most are flush-able diaper liners.

  • Even if you’re using cloth diaper safe diaper creams, you may want to use a liner to help protect your diaper from encountering any build-up from the cream.
  • If you are concerned about your baby’s skin staying too wet in cloth diapers, you can line them with a fleece reusable  diaper liner. The fleece is amazing in that it wicks away moisture, but allows the urine to pass through, keeping their skin completely dry!
  • If you’re traveling, don’t have a diaper sprayer, or just don’t like dealing with cleaning dirty cloth diapers – flushable disposable liners [these are my favorite] can be your best friend! Simply take out the liner and throw it away or flush!

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Cloth Diaper Inserts

Are there any special rules to prep inserts?

Microfiber and minky cloth diaper inserts need to be washed only once and they’re ready to use. Any organic/natural fibers like bamboo, organic cotton, and hemp need to be washed a minimum of 4 times to begin absorbing and will reach maximum absorbency by about 10 washes.

Some say that you can boil your natural fibers instead of washing them so many times. The main consensus is to boil for about 15 minutes – but make sure you’re not boiling anything with snaps! This will definitely cause damage to them! I wrote more about prepping cloth diapers and inserts here.

Why should I invest in hemp diaper inserts?

If you have a heavy wetter, if you have an older child/toddler in diapers, or if you plan/do use cloth diapers at night – you’re definitely going to want to have hemp inserts on hand. 

They absorb a ton and are relatively trim, so you’re not stuffing your child’s diaper so full that they can’t move! You can read more about my favorite hemp inserts here.

If I want to layer my inserts, what’s the best order?

If you’re layering and using microfiber in your mixture, definitely put it on top. Microfiber absorbs the quickest so it will pull the urine down the fastest. I always layer microfiber and then hemp underneath.

But remember – microfiber cannot touch your child’s skin directly. There is no problem to using hemp or another natural fiber as the top layer, but be aware if you are having leak issues make sure the legs of your child’s cloth diaper are pulled tight enough.


Wednesday 5th of October 2016

Hi, do I change the actually diaper every time? Or do I simply change the liner and or the insert?

Lindsey G.

Thursday 6th of October 2016

Hi Jamisa! It definitely depends on the type of diaper you're using, as well as how dirty/wet the liner/insert gets. If you're using something like an insert inside of a cover and the cover doesn't get soiled, it would be fine to re-use a couple of times during the day. Hope that helps!


Tuesday 13th of September 2016

Do you need the liners as well as the inserts for cloth diapers?

Lindsey G.

Tuesday 13th of September 2016

Liners are definitely NOT required for cloth diapers, but are mainly used for 2 reasons. If you use a fleece liner, it can help keep your babies bottom a little more dry since the fleece wicks away moisture. If you're diaper has a fleece lining already, this isn't really needed. The second reason many use liners is to help keep stains away. If you use a disposable liner, it makes cleanup easier [love these when traveling] and a reusable liner may get stained, but they're way cheaper to replace than an entire diaper. Hope that helps!

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