Most Absorbent Cloth Diaper Inserts: I Tested 12 Different Inserts!


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Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different types of cloth diaper inserts and wondering, “What is the most absorbent insert?”. I decided to find out for myself by testing and comparing 12 of the best inserts that I could get my hands on. You can watch me test out these inserts in my video below. I’m excited to share the results with you!

What is the most absorbent cloth diaper insert? There are three main features of an insert that affect its absorbency capabilities. These are, the number of layers thick the insert is, the size or how large it is, and which type of fabric it’s made of. The most absorbent insert will be designed with these features in mind.

The Best Bottom Microfiber Overnight Insert is the most absorbent insert, with a maximum absorbency capacity of 14.2 ounces.

The larger the size of the insert and the more layers it has, the more fabric there will be to soak up liquid, thus making it more absorbent.

The type of fabric that an insert is made out of will also determine the absorbency potential. The four most common types of cloth diaper fabrics are hemp, bamboo, cotton, and microfiber. Hemp is said to be the most absorbent, followed by bamboo, cotton, then microfiber. However, in testing all of these inserts I found the microfiber insert to be incredibly absorbent.

*Update after 1 year* After using these inserts for a year, my favorite is by far the Geffen Baby Absorbers. They may not have performed very well in my test, but they have performed fantastic in real life inside of baby’s diaper, which is what really counts right? I love them and have never had any leaking issues when I placed them on the bottom layer of a diaper as a booster. I highly recommend you try them out.

Absorbency Test Results Of 12 Cloth Diaper Inserts

INSERTMAX ABSORBENCY IN OUNCES
Best Bottom Microfiber Overnight Insert (Large)14.2 oz
Amp 3 Layer Hemp Insert (Red Edge)12.5 oz
Hemp Babies Tri-Fold Insert (Bigger Weeds)12.5 oz
Buttons Hemp/Cotton Nighttime Doubler (X-Large)12.3 oz
Rumparooz 6r Soaker Hemp Insert11.8 oz
Cloth-eez Insert (3 Large Stacked)11.7 oz
Nicki’s Diapers Ultimate Bamboo Insert10.6 oz
Best Bottom Overnight Bamboo Insert (Large)10.5 oz
Smartbottoms Dream Diaper Overnight Insert8.5 oz
Geffen Baby Super Absorbers Plus7.4 oz
Best Bottom Overnight Hemp Insert7.4 oz
Babykicks Hemparoo Joey Bunz Insert6.7 oz

I found the results of this test very surprising as hemp is often touted as the most absorbent fabric for inserts, yet the Best Bottom Hemp performed the worst compared to the Best Bottom Bamboo and Microfiber.

All of the Best Bottom Inserts were the same size, large. The BB microfiber insert had the least number of layers, only 6, and yet it was the most absorbent, while the BB bamboo and hemp inserts had 8 layers.

This leads me to believe that it was the type of fabric that made the difference. Microfiber seemed to perform best, at least with this brand of inserts.

If you’re interested in learning more about cloth diaper fabric options, I wrote a blog post all about it here.

*Note* Microfiber should not touch your child’s skin. Be sure to use it inside of the pocket of a pocket diaper, or put a layer of natural fiber or stay-dry on top of the microfiber.

What Is A Cloth Diaper Insert?

A cloth diaper insert is simply the absorbent part of the diaper. It does the very important job of soaking up all the liquid. Inserts are typically used in an All-In-Two (Ai2) diapering system. An Ai2 system is made up of two parts, hence the name Ai2. The insert makes up the absorbent part, and the outer waterproof layer makes the second part. This outer waterproof part is a diaper cover or diaper shell.

Inserts are also commonly used in pocket diapers. A pocket diaper has a waterproof exterior layer and an inner stay-dry fabric liner. These two layers are sewn together. The stay-dry fabric goes next to baby’s skin and wicks moisture away from the baby. Because the inner stay-dry material is not absorbent, a pocket opening is sewn at the top or bottom of the diaper which allows for an absorbent insert to be stuffed inside between the stay-dry layer and the waterproof layer.

Types Of Cloth Diaper Inserts

There are numerous types of cloth diaper inserts and many different design styles. Any absorbent fabric can be used as a cloth diaper insert. There are moms who have great success using prefolds, flats, flour sack towels, and even T-shirts as inserts! I personally love using inserts that have been manufactured specifically to be used as cloth diaper inserts because I feel like the quality and durability serve our family well, however it is always okay to step outside of the box and try unique options.

Some of the different design options (shapes) are pad, snake, petal, and contoured. This is simply the way the fabric has been cut and shaped and you may want to try different styles to see which one you like best.

How To Use Cloth Diaper Inserts

There are three ways to use cloth diaper inserts.

  • Ai2 – In an Ai2 system lay the insert on the inside of the diaper cover or shell, then fasten the diaper onto your baby.
  • Pocket Diaper- If you’re using pocket diapers simply stuff the insert into the pocket opening and then fasten the diaper onto your baby.
  • Doublers – You can use an insert as a doubler for the purpose of boosting the absorbency of any type of diapering system. Just add the insert to the inside of whatever type of diaper you are using and then fasten it onto your baby.

Which Inserts Are Best For Cloth Diapers?

The best inserts for cloth diapers are highly absorbent, easy to wash and dry, affordable, durable, and sized appropriately to fit your child.

Absorbency

cloth diaper insert absorbency chart

The amount of absorbency that you will need in an insert will vary based upon the age of your child and what their urine output is. You may not need an insert that holds 14.2 ounces, such as the Best Bottom Overnight Microfiber Insert.

I monitored the urine output of my 2-year-old and 8-month-old in preparation for this post. They both peed around 8 ounces during the daytime hours. Let’s say I do 6 diaper changes in a day. That would mean each insert, would only need to hold 1.3 ounces. Interestingly enough, each time my 2-year-old went potty, he peed about 1 ounce.

You can see from my illustration here, that any of the inserts on the absorbency chart would work perfectly fine for regular daytime use. My recommendation is that you don’t limit yourself to only trying the most absorbent inserts on the chart. You may find that you really enjoy some of the other inserts that may perform better in other areas such as price, durability, etc.

Best Cloth Diaper Inserts For Overnight

Now, for nighttime inserts, you may want to grab some of the mega absorbent options, especially if you want the diaper to last through the entire night. The best cloth diaper inserts for overnight will be:

  • Best Bottom Overnight Microfiber Insert
  • Amp 3 Layer Hemp Insert
  • Buttons Hemp/Cotton Overnight Doubler

All of these inserts hold over 12 ounces of liquid and will be great for overnight and for heavy wetters.

Related Insert Questions:

How Long Do Cloth Diaper Inserts Last?

Cloth diaper inserts can last around 2 years or more. This largely depends upon the quality of the inserts and how often you wash and dry them. To extend the lifespan of your inserts, consider investing in a larger stash, which will allow you to go longer between wash cycles.

It also helps to avoid high temperatures when washing and drying. This isn’t as big of an issue with inserts as it is with diapers that have elastics and waterproofing materials like PUL. Line-drying is the best way to elongate the life of your inserts (I’m too lazy to do this).

Laundry additives such as bleach, vinegar, and fabric softener (Big No-No) can also cause issues. Use disinfectants, such as bleach, sparingly and only when necessary.

If you need to use diaper cream on your baby make sure that it is cloth diaper safe. I recommend Thirsties Booty Love Diaper Rash Ointment and you can find it on Amazon here.

Are Cloth Diaper Inserts Reusable?

Yes, cloth diaper inserts are reusable. This may seem like an obvious answer, but there are disposable cloth diaper inserts available on the market such as these gDiapers disposable inserts.

Make sure when you go to purchase your inserts you consider the two options, and if you want reusable inserts, check the description of the product to verify that you are buying washable/reusable inserts.

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