A Modern Day Fairy Tale: Lessons in Cloth: Types of Inserts {Hemp vs Microfiber}

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lessons in Cloth: Types of Inserts {Hemp vs Microfiber}

In the last 'Lessons in Cloth', we talked types of diapers. So, now that you've decided on the type of diapers you're using, it's time to decide what to use for stuffing/absorbency. Honestly, you can use anything that will hold liquid in your diapers, but there are definitely some materials that work better than others. Today we're going to take a quick look at just two of the most popular types of inserts available- microfiber and hemp.


The Good:
  • Absorbs a lot of liquid, and does so quickly.
  • Most diapers include microfiber inserts, making them the most convenient option.
  • This also makes them more cost effective since there is no need to buy new inserts. Replacement microfiber inserts are also cheaper than hemp.
  • Easy to prep...they take fewer washes to prep for wear.
The Bad:
  • Microfiber can be prone to compression leaks. If baby is on their bottom a lot- in the car seat, stroller, even being worn, this could present some issues.
  • These inserts tend to be bulkier than hemp.
  • Microfiber cannot be placed directly against babies skin. This is no problem for pocket diapers, but if you are using an AI2 system, it is important to remember.
  • Though we've not come across it personally, many find that microfiber has a tendency to have stink issues.


The Good:
  • Very absorbent. Of the two, I've certainly found hemp to be the most absorbent, making it a great option for nighttime diapers.
  • There is no worry of compression leaks, making them a great option for babies who are going to be on their bottom for longer periods.
  • Hemp inserts are very trim, making a great, trim fit for even the smallest of babies.
  • Hemp can be placed against babies skin.
The Bad:
  • Though hemp absorbs more than the typical microfiber insert, they also absorb more slowly. If you have a fast wetter, it may not be able to absorb quick enough resulting in leaks.
  • It's pricier. Since most cloth diapers don't come standard with hemp, this means you will have to buy additional inserts, adding to your initial cost.
  • Hemp does take longer to prep initially (though after the prep, all inserts can be washed together in the same manner).
  • Longer dry time
This photo shows the thickness comparison of hemp (on top) and microfiber.
Both are one size inserts.

So, which is best? Honestly, both have their pros and cons. Hemp is definitely more absorbent, but also more expensive and slower for those fast wetters. It also varies very much for each baby. Some can use microfiber exclusively with absolutely no issues, whereas others need that more powerful hemp to get the job done. My personal favorite is a combination of the two. Hemp, the more absorbent of the two goes on the bottom, with a microfiber on top to catch that quick flow. For us it is the ultimate combination (and a great nighttime solution too!).

But again, these are just two of the many insert options available. Cotton, bamboo, prefolds, flats...the options are endless. As always my advice is to try a little bit of everything before deciding what works best for you and your baby.

Do you have a favorite insert (brand or material)? What do you like most about it? What qualities do you look for most in your inserts?

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