Cloth Diaper Inserts – Natural vs. Synthetic

A huge part of using cloth diapers is using the right cloth diaper inserts.  There’s a catch, though: there’s no universally right or wrong answer to the cloth diaper inserts decision.  There are a few things to consider when you decide what to go with.

Not all cloth diapers are the same.  Some are wider.  Some are narrower.  I would never, ever pair my Fuzzi Bunz inserts with a BumGenius diaper.  Fuzzi Bunz diapers are narrower, so it’s a recipe for leaking.  This is also why I match cloth diaper inserts to diapers.  (Typically, if I’m using a Rumparooz diaper, I’m using a Rumparooz insert.)  If I’m not matching brand to brand, then it’s a conscious choice and is still done with the same deliberate care that I use when choosing cloth diapers for my stash in the first place.  Then, of course, there’s what the cloth diaper inserts are actually made of.


There are few common fabrics used in your inserts.  For your natural fibers, you’ve got cotton, hemp, and bamboo.  For your synthetic fibers, you’ve got microfiber and minky.  They all have their own benefits and disadvantages.

Natural fibers

A lot of people swear by their natural fibers like hemp and bamboo.  There’s a good reason for it: they just plain work.  Both bamboo and hemp actually hold more liquid than microfiber.  They are less prone to compression leaks.  They are less prone to stink than microfiber.  They are able to be right up against your baby’s skin.  Hold up.  Those are all great things.  So why aren’t all cloth diaper inserts made of natural fibers?  There are two drawbacks to natural fibers.  1.) Natural fibers don’t wick away moisture.  2.) Natural fibers are more expensive.


I love microfiber, myself.  My microfiber inserts came with my diapers, so I know that they will always fit properly.  Microfiber is perfectly absorbent enough for my kids for daytime use.  Microfiber wicks away moisture, so my kids’ bottoms are kept dryer.  Because microfiber wicks away moisture, it actually absorbs faster than natural fibers.  The downside, though, is that microfiber is prone to stink.  (Don’t worry; that can be fixed.)  Additionally, microfiber can’t be right up against your baby’s bottom because it’s so very efficient at wicking away moisture that it can actually dry out baby’s skin and leave a very chapped bottom.  Another drawback to microfiber cloth diaper inserts is that they are more prone to compression leaks than natural inserts.

Some manufacturers (like Fuzzi Bunz Elite diapers) are working past the synthetic issues by converting to minky inserts.

What Should You Choose?

Really, that depends entirely on your needs and what you’re using your cloth diapers for.  For general day time use, I use microfiber.  At night, I like to use a combination of natural fibers double stuffed with a microfiber insert.  This way, the microfiber can quickly suck away the moisture and the natural fibers can absorb whatever leaks, from compression or otherwise, and keep my babies’ bottoms dry into the morning.  Some people only want natural fibers near baby, so that’s all that they use.  In the end, trial and error is pretty much your best bet.

Do you have a preference for natural fibers versus synthetics?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. Sarah Hayes says:

    thanks for the info! i really like the natural ones myself

  2. I’m new to cloth diapering so thanks for all the great informative posts! 🙂

  3. thanks so much for the info.. im new to cloth diapering so this info is great to know 🙂

  4. Gina Hodges says:

    I am new to cloth diapering and I have organic and synthetic liners do you know which ones would cause red irritation, my husband didn’t know there was a difference in the liners so he did not pay attention to which ones he was using.

    • If they aren’t directly against the skin, *none* of them should cause redness or irritation. If it’s directly against the skin, just microfiber as it will wick the moisture out of the skin.

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