Do Stay Dry Cloth Diapers Really Feel Dry? And Musings on Suedecloth vs. Microfleece

One reason cloth diapers have come such a long way since birdseye flats and plastic pants is: Stay Dry Lining.  When Fuzzibunz came along with their Microfleece lining, a magical fabric that allowed moisture to go through it and be absorbed into an insert, but that also wicked moisture away from the baby’s bum letting them stay dry, this was a huge break-through! Tereson Dupuy invented the modern cloth diaper with this innovative idea.  I wanted to test these diapers to see if they really felt dry.

As a parent I do get concerned about my children staying in wet diapers.  The downside of cloth diapers is that it is harder to know when they have wet.  There is no “pinch” test for cloth, although it is still effective to a small degree if you really know what you are looking for.  At least if you are using as “stay dry” cloth diaper you can feel good knowing your baby is comfortable, or can you?

Stay Dry lining materials include Microfleece and Suedecloth.  Thirsties is the brand you think of as a cloth diaper that uses microfleece, and bumGenius 4.0 is the most popular example of a diaper using suedecloth.

There are many benefits to using a diaper with a stay dry lining, however there are also many pitfalls. It is important when choosing a cloth diaper to understand both and know what challenges you may be facing in the future.

First, what are Microfleece and Suedecloth?

Both materials are synthetic and 100% polyester.  There is a very handy website with descriptions of common diaper materials on Zany-Zebra that I consult often.

In everyday life you see microfleece all the time, just in bulkier forms like Old Navy fleece jackets and scarves.  Suedecloth is also a fabric with many everyday applications, but because it is usually in thicker forms you may not connect the dots.  Suedecloth has a smooth lining and doesn’t pill up.  Microfleece will pill over time.  (depending on the brand, some are better than others)  Piling means the fabric will develop tiny balls after multiple washes, like your favorite sweater.  Suedecloth will stay very smooth over dozens of washes, or more.

With my experiment I wanted to see if, after a baby urinates, the lining really does feel dry to the touch.  And, if one stay dry material did a better job than another.  I also wanted to see if the type of insert or type of diaper made a difference.

I tried testing a few varieties.

  • Microfleece All-in-One with a Microfiber Soaker (AMP Stay Dry AIO)
  • Microfleece Pocket with Microfiber insert (Happy Heiny’s OS)
  • Microfleece topped lay in Microfiber soaker (Softbums Echo)
  • Suedecloth All-in-One with Bamboo insert (Ragababe AIO)
  • Suedecloth Pocket with Microfiber insert (bumGenius 4.0)

I also, for kicks, tested a few other types of materials:

Cotton (Gro Via AIO), Bamboo Fleece (Babykicks 3g)  and Bamboo Terry (Yo-Yoo), to see how wet those felt to the touch.

Based on my tests, which are in no way truly scientific, but as good as I could do, I came up with a few conclusions:

  • Suedecloth feels drier faster than Microfleece.
  • Pockets, due to that space between the insert and the lining, feel drier than sewn in All-in-Ones.  Suedecloth pockets feel drier than Microfleece.
  • Pockets also evenly distribute the moisture more to the soaker leaving less chance of feeling wetness in the spot where the urine is left.

That all sounds great, right?  Baby pees and still feels dry.  What’s not to love?

Synthetic liners do have some serious drawbacks.

The biggest: Repelling. Certain laundry detergents and other laundry additives “bond” with that material causing what is commonly referred to as “repelling.”  The soap scum, diaper creams, or fabric softener residue prevents urine from going through the layer of material.  In the worst cases no urine makes it through and it is like the baby is peeing on a plastic sheet.

Even with no repelling, there is still a delay between urinating on the layer of material, and it soaking through it.  I will be doing another video of this, but for now just know that when your baby pees it takes a few seconds for the urine to go through.  It helps when there is compression from their bodies, this will speed up the process.  But, imagine they are laying on their backs and sleeping.  The urine will possibly roll down the diaper before being absorbed.  If they pee very forcefully and a lot is expelled at one time, there might not be enough time for the pee to go through the layer of stay dry material before it finds an escape route.  THIS is why I do not like stay dry diapers for overnight.  There is a higher likelihood that it will leak.  But, then again, I want my baby to be comfortable while in a diaper for 10 hours, so I want the stay dry diapers to work!

A potential drawback of stay dry diapers is that they DO stay dry.  There are parents who would rather their baby’s feel the wetness in order to expedite potty learning.  The common saying is that babies in cloth diapers potty train faster.  I don’t really buy that, but, if a baby does feel the moisture and isn’t a fan, they may be more likely to want to learn to potty versus staying in a wet diaper.

And the last reason stay dry diapers may not be the option for you: they are synthetic.  Any cloth diaper with a PUL outer has synthetic materials, but these don’t always touch the baby.  There are parents who want only organic materials against the skin, and that rules out stay dry liners like Microfleece and Suedecloth.  There are diapers with Bamboo fleece, but testing showed me that they are soft but do not stay dry like the synthetic fleece.  In rare cases, babies actually are allergic or sensitive to the synthetic liners and develop rashes.

Lastly, there is the matter of the Poop.  I have gone into (probably too much) detail about the different forms of poop and how this relates to cloth diapering.  Suedecloth and Microfleece each have selling points.  Suedecloth is easier to spray off, but microfleece holds those runny breastfeeding poops in better.

I can’t tell you what to choose.  It truly is a matter of personal preference and what will work best for your baby’s needs.  But at least you now know that both materials are comfortable to the baby even after they have a wet diaper in case you can’t change them right away.

What is important to you in a diaper?  Stay dry, organic, easy to spray, etc?

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