I am quite passionate about cloth diapering. I love how adorable the fluff looks on my wee ones’ bums. I love how I never have to go shopping for disposable diapers. I really love saving a ton of money. And I love evading a bunch of waste.
One of the stumbling blocks I ran into when I first began cloth diapering was the sea of terminology (or just terms, or lingo, or gobbledygook, or whatever you prefer to call it). So, in an effort to help others beginning their cloth daipering journey, here’s a list of these terms and their definitions.
By the way, if you see some terms missing, please let me know in a comment below.
Basic Cloth Diapering Terms
All-in-Two (AI2) – A fitted diaper with a waterproof outer layer (shell or cover), usually with attached or semi-attached inner lining, that is accompanied by a soaker that can be snapped, tucked, or otherwise inserted for extra absorbency.
CD – The initials or shorthand for cloth diapers.
Contour Diaper – A simple cloth diaper that is kind-of hourglass-shaped. Can be considered a type of flat diaper. Some have snaps, hook and loop closures, or ties and others are secured utilizing pins, a Snappi, or just by wrapping with a diaper cover. Must be covered with a diaper cover (otherwise you’ll have a wet and possibly yucky mess).
Cloth Wipes – Just as it sounds. These are baby wipes made out of cloth. Most cloth diapering retailers sell moistening solution to use on them or you can make your own (put 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baby shampoo, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a spray bottle; shake; spritz onto the baby wipes and get to making that baby bum all squeaky clean).
Diaper Pail – A pail to store dirty or used diapers and diaper covers until laundry day. Typically lined with a diaper pail liner (it’s not rocket science to figure out what a diaper pail liner is, but read “Pail Liner” below to learn more about them).
Diaper Service Quality (DSQ) – Diaper cleaning services only accept cloth diapers that meet a specific degree of quality. They must be very durable because they go through extensive use. Yes, there are services that deliver cloth diapers to your door step and even wash them for you! (Hint: diaper services kinda remove the money-saving aspect of cloth diapering).
Diaper Sprayer – This is a sprayer attached to the plumbing of your toilet to easily spray off solids from a cloth diaper. This is a modern advantage that our cloth-diapering parents didn’t have! You can purchase a sprayer for about $40 or make your own for about $20.
Doubler – An additional insert placed inside a diaper for extra absorbency. These are usually thinner than regular inserts/soakers and several can be used at once to reach the desired amount of absorbency. Especially helpful during naptime and at night.
Fitted – This is a completely absorbent cloth diaper without the waterproof outer shell. Therefore, a diaper cover is necessary to put on over the fitted to make it waterproof. I personally find fitted cloth diapers to be most useful overnight.
Fluff – A cute term used to refer to cloth diapers.
Hybrid – This diaper combines the best of both the cloth and disposable worlds. It is typically a cloth diaper cover (with or without attached or partially attached lining) with a disposable diaper insert.
Gussets – See “Leg Gussets” below.
Laundry Tab – On many cloth diapers that have hook and loop closures, there will be a laundry tab, which is just a strip of loop closure that you attach the hook tab to in order to evade snagging other items (including other diapers) while in the wash.
Leg Gussets – Or just gussets. This is the elastic around the leg opening. Some cloth diapers have two leg gussets (often called double leg gussets) around each leg opening. Gussets provide a more secure, waterproof seal around baby’s legs.
Liner – A thin piece of cloth placed on top all other layers of a cloth diaper to make removing wastes easier. Some liners are made of paper and therefore disposable (some are even flushable). Some people use liners when they need to use diaper rash ointment to protect the diaper from losing absorbency.
Nappy – Another word for diaper.
Pail Liner – A reusable liner in which dirty or used diapers and diaper covers are stored until laundry day. Most can be placed inside a diaper pail and some can be hung. Some have drawstrings or zippers and others are just plain ol’ bags. Usually, a liner made specifically for cloth diapers can be tossed into the wash (quite a blessing, really–you don’t have to touch all the dirty diapers to toss them in the wash; just toss in the whole bag).
Plastic Pants – These are those crinkly, usually plain white, pull-on diaper covers they used on babies in the ’80s. They’re not very cute, they’re noisy, and they leak (or at least on my kiddos they do)!
Prefold (or Pre-fold)– A type of flat diaper. This is a square or rectangular-shaped cloth diaper with a thicker, extra-absorbent middle. Variations include the Chinese prefold and the Indian prefold. Must be folded, secured, and covered with a diaper cover. When prefold diapers are sold, you will often see numbers in conjunction with them. These numbers indicate how many layers make up its thickness. For example, a 3x6x3 prefold means that each outside flap has 3 layers of cloth and the center consists of 6.
Repelling – See “Wicking.”
Shell – A diaper cover or the outer, waterproof layer of a cloth diaper.
Sleeve Diaper – Similar to a pocket diaper, this is a diaper that has a pocket with an opening on both ends, forming a “sleeve” to tuck inserts.
Soaker – For one meaning, see “Insert.” Also, a soaker is a pull-on wool diaper cover.
Soaker Pants – See “Longies.”
Soaker Shorts – See “Shorties.”
Stripping – A process to remove buildup from a cloth diaper that is causing the diaper to repel/wick liquids. Brand new diapers and diapers that have enduring odors are also commonly stripped. Stripping increases a diapers absorbancy. A common way to strip a diaper is to run it through a hot wash without laundry soap or to boil it (but do follow the diaper manufacturer’s directions so you don’t ruin it).
Sweater Pants – See “Longies.”
Sweater Shorts– See “Shorties.”
Trainer – Also Training Diapers or Training Pants. A cloth diaper shaped more like undies used while potty training your toddler. Some just slip on and off while others can be opened at the sides for easier removal (I recommend the latter).
Training Diaper – See “Trainer.”
Training Pants – See “Trainer.”
Wicking – Build up on a cloth diaper caused by lanolin, non cloth-diaper safe diaper rash ointment, fabric softener, too much laundry soap, etc. In some cases, such as when using wool diaper covers, wicking is done intentionally to provide a waterproof surface to keep moisture in. In other cases, it is just something that happens over time during regular use and makes it necessary to strip (see “Stripping”) the diaper to increase absorbency. Also, wicking is the action of moisture being absorbed away from the body.
Wool Grease – See “Lanolin” above.
Wool-in-One (WIO) – An AIO diaper made of wool.
Wool Wax – See “Lanolin” above.
Cloth Diaper Fabrics
Fleece – Comes in a variety of thicknesses including microfleece (which has tiny fibers). Some kinds of fleece allow moisture to absorb then wick (reflect) away from the baby’s body. Others are extra waterproof and are used as diaper shells or covers.
Microfleece – Microfiber fleece. See “Fleece.”
Microterry – Microfiber terry. See “Terry.”
Terry – This includes microterry (which is terry cloth with tiny fibers). This is a very absorbent material that can be used under a layer of another kind of material. It should never be placed directly against baby’s skin because it can really dry out the skin.
Cloth Diaper Fasteners
Pins – These are just pins to secure contour, flat, or prefold cloth diapers. Many modern diaper pins are curved and/or have safety features so that baby can’t get them open. Mom and Dad can’t get them open sometimes either.
Snaps – Can be plastic or metal. They come in a variety of different placements. For example, some are on the front, while others are on the side. One-size diapers also often have several rows of snaps on the front to adjust the rise.