How Fast Do Cloth Diapers Absorb?

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What 3-year-old wouldn’t love sitting on top of the kitchen table pouring water all over things?

Mine had a blast.

Dear Leah helped me pour a Tablespoon of water on two dozen different cloth diapers, all reviewed individually for performance in the cloth diaper review. I taped the results close up for you to view. I think it’s fascinating:

Note: I recommend starting at about 1:50, since the focus is  horrid the first 2 minutes – I’m no professional videographer – and I typed below the important parts of the introduction anyway. I’m trying to edit it, but I’m no You Tube professional, either… Winking smile

If you can’t see the embedded video, click cloth diaper absorbency tests to see it on You Tube.

In the first video, you’ll see 8 pocket diapers + 2 AIOs, a microfiber cleaning cloth as a control (to see how fast microfiber that is not a diaper insert and has never been through the dryer absorbs), plus a 7th Generation size 3 disposable diaper.

For a moment, I wondered if perhaps my diaper inserts were messed up, since the microfiber inserts and fleece pockets were not absorbing anything. At all.

To answer the questions on the tips of your tongues:


  1. Yes, they were all fully prepped properly, washed and dried well over the requisite 3 times.
  2. No, I hadn’t used any naughty diaper cream to cause repelling.
  3. One possible problem: I read after fact not to wash bamboo/hemp with microfiber inserts until the natural fibers are prepped 3 times to get the oils out, as the oils will coat the microfibers. I worried that I had messed up all my MF inserts – but I tested boiling 4 or so inserts and compared to those I didn’t boil, and they all acted the same as far as speed of absorbency…so I’m thinking I didn’t wreck my microfiber inserts. Plus, they are all faring acceptably on the baby.
  4. Which leads me to a reader comment – apparently fleece pockets and microfibers aren’t designed to absorb poured liquid, and I should have used a syringe to squirt the water into the diaper with a bit of force. So take these results with a grain of salt!

This second video shows 13 more diapers: fitteds, two pieces, and all-in-twos:

If you can’t see the embedded video, click cloth diaper absorbency tests to see it on You Tube.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed since these videos is that some of the diapers really do have a "stay-dry" feel. It’s what the fleece is supposed to do on the pockets, and the Itti Bitti Tutto is another one that feels dry on the baby side yet wet on the bottom.

The Sugar Peas insert with the Motherease diaper wouldn’t absorb well in the first video, but when I did the other cloth diaper absorbency tests to see the total quantity each diaper would hold, I realized that one side repels and the other side sucks the moisture right up. Be sure to check out those videos, which are probably more helpful in the long run than these guys.

But we had a lot of fun doing them for you.

Keep watching this week for the denouement of the cloth diaper series here at KS, and next week I’ll get back in the kitchen where I belong! Of course, this was all shot in the kitchen…but next week I’ll be working with food again, not diapers!

Big Winner

I’m excited to share the name of someone who’s about to jump out of her computer chair and frighten her family, hopefully avoiding waking any sleeping babies or children:

Lois Martin

has $380 worth of cloth diaper and baby supplies coming her way! Congratulations!

Don’t forget to check out the cloth diaper giveaway post for a bunch of coupons, including:

  • Jack be Natural: KITCHEN10 for 10% off. (excludes bumGenius, Flip, HempBabies, Boba, GroVia, ImseVimse)
  • Mom4Life: 10% off with the code kitchen
  • Sprout Change from The Willow Store: ks2712 for 10% off anything in the store
  • Monkey Doodlez: stew15, valid for 15% off our Tuck and Go Covers and Inserts (regular price) (exp May 10)
  • Wooldins: KITCHENSTEW for 10% off
  • Abby’s Lane: sunshine for 5% off most products
  • Go Green!: NEWYEARNEWDIPES for 10% off your entire order
  • My lil Market: 10%  coupon code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP
  • Organic Mamas Shop: free earrings with every order

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3 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. Meg says

    I’m pretty sure the pockets are supposed to repel water. They have stay dry material. So after it does absorb, it quickly dries. I’m going to start making my own so thank you for the experiments!

  2. Meg says

    I wonder if you have so much repelling because your dipes need to be stripped? I’ll have to do an experiment on mine too. We don’t have leaks on cloth, we’ve always had leaks in disposable. I have BG, FB, Grovia, Kissa and CB…

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