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cloth nappy glossary

We know there are a lot of reusable nappy words and phrases that you may come across and won't know what they mean. The Nappy Gurus have compiled a useful A-Z glossary of all the cloth nappy terms and acronyms.

All In One Nappy (AIO):

All In One Nappies are a complete nappy with the waterproof outer layer built in so they don't require a separate cover. All in One Nappies are the most similar to a disposable nappy, and are really convenient for quick and easy changes, childcare or outings.


All In Two Nappy:

All In Two Nappies consist of a shell (the waterproof part) with separate inserts which may lay in the shell or snap into place. When wet, you can replace the insert for a fresh one and reuse the shell if it is not soiled.


Birth to Potty Nappy (B2P):

A Birth To Potty Nappy (also known as a One Size Nappy) is designed to grow with your baby from birth, through to potty training. Usually the size is stated as 10-35lbs (4.5 - 16kg) however in practice you will probably get a good fit from around the 12lb mark.



Boosters are multi-layered pads that can be used to boost the absorbency of your nappy. They are recommended for heavy wetters or night time use and some may be topped with a wicking fabric such as microfleece to keep the bottom dry.



A Nappy Cover is a waterproof or water resistant cover which can be used over fitted or flat nappies to contain moisture. They can be found in a variety of materials including PUL (polyurethane laminate), wool and fleece, and are usually fastened with hook and loop (velcro) or snaps/poppers.  They are also known as a 'Nappy Wrap'.



CCN is often referenced in cloth nappy groups and stands for Clean Cloth Nappies. It is a complex method of washing and sanitising nappies. Here at The Nappy Gurus we do not advocate these methods, and they will usually invalidate manufacturer warranties. Always follow the manufacturers washing instructions, they know their products best! You can find The Nappy Guru's advice in our handy guide on how to wash your reusable nappies.



Diaper is the American term for a nappy.


Double Gusset:

A double panel of elastic around the legs of a nappy or nappy cover, which can help with containment.


Dry Pailing:

The most common method of storing cloth nappies ready for washing. Dry pailing is the opposite of soaking nappies, and involves putting the dirty nappies inside a dry bucket, which can be lined with a mesh bag, or a hanging pail bag.


Fitted Nappy:

Fitted Nappies have a contoured shape with gathered edges around the legs and waist. They are fastened with either hook and loop (velcro), snaps/poppers or a nappy fastener and require a waterproof cover over the top. Fitted Nappies are much easier to use than flat nappies as they require no folding.



The term Flat Nappy can refer to the traditional terry square or pre-fold nappies (see below). They are generally made from cotton fibre and require folding, they require a waterproof cover over the top.



A polyester fibre often used to make nappy liners, wraps and soakers. It is super soft, and resists water penetration. Many nappies are lined with fleece to provide a 'stay dry' layer next to the skin.



Hemp is a natural fibre made from the hemp plant. It is very popular in cloth nappy use because of its durability, absorbency and natural anti-microbial properties.


Hook and Loop:

Another word for the velcro fastenings on nappies.



Inserts are rectangular or contoured strips of fabric that are stuffed inside pocket nappies to provide absorbency. They can be made of hemp, microfibre, bamboo or any other absorbent material.


Laundry Tabs:

On hook and loop fastening nappies, this refers to an extra space where you can stick the "hooks" whilst washing the nappies to prevent them catching on other items in the wash.



Liners are a thin material used between the nappy and the bottom and serve two useful purposes:

  1. To keep poo away from the nappy to aid cleaning.
  2. To provide a 'stay dry' layer next to baby's skin. Liners can be single use biodegradable paper or bamboo, or washable and reusable. Polyester fabrics such as microfleece wick moisture away from the skin. Liners are an optional cloth nappy accessory and not essential.



Microfibre is a super absorbent synthetic polyamide fibre that is often found in pocket nappy systems. It absorbs moisture very quickly and can hold up to 7 times its weight in water. It is exceptionally soft and holds its shape well, however it should not be used directly next to the skin as the tiny fibres can cause irritation. Microfibre retains its absorbency best when it is line dried.



Not to be confused with microfibre, this is a material that can be used next to the skin and helps provide a stay-dry layer. Often found inside pocket nappies as the internal layer, and as reusable liners.


Mesh Bag:

Mesh bags are commonly used to line the nappy bucket. They provide an effective means to transfer soiled nappies from bucket to machine without having to pick them up one by one. The whole bag can simply be placed inside the machine with the drawstring left open, and the nappies should naturally separate from the bag during the wash cycle.


Nappy Fastener:

An alternative method of holding flat nappies in place. Instead of the traditional nappy pins, a Nappy Fastener is a plastic gripper that uses little teeth to grab the fabric. It is considered a safer alternative to safety pins.



NNR stands for 'not nappy related' and is often used in nappy chat groups such as The Nappy Guru Place.


One Size Nappy (OS Nappy):

One Size Nappies are designed to fit from birth right up to potty training (approx 8-35lbs). They usually incorporate snaps/poppers down the front rise which allow you to adjust the size of the nappy as your baby grows. One Size Nappies usually fit best between 12-35lbs, with variable fit at either end of the range.



Organic fibre means that which comes from a plant that was grown without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic material usually comes at a higher price than regular material.


Pocket Nappy:

The original Pocket Nappy was designed in 1998 by the FuzziBunz brand and they have become an innovation in the cloth nappy market. Pocket Nappies are two part system comprising a waterproof shell lined with an inner layer of microfleece or velour. There is a back opening between these two layers for absorbent inserts to be 'stuffed' inside. When 'stuffed' the nappy becomes an All In One nappy, but has the benefit of being a quick drying system as everything separates for washing and drying. Although Pocket Nappies require assembling, they are considered to be very easy to use and prove to be a popular choice for childminders or nurseries.



A plastic snap fastening often found on nappies to fasten them around the waist, or on the front rise on One Size nappies. Also known as 'snaps'.


Prefold Nappy:

Prefold is a rectangular shaped nappy that is stitched into 3 lengthwise layers, forming a thicker middle layer. They can be tri-folded inside a waterproof nappy cover, or folded and fastened with pins or a nappy fastener. Unbleached Prefolds require more initial washing to reach full absorbency, but tend to be softer than bleached versions in the long run.



PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate, a material which is applied to fabric to make it water resistant. Many Nappy Covers are made with PUL, and Pocket Nappy and AIO systems incorporate it to make them waterproof.



Refers to the front of a nappy, and typically used when referencing the adjustment of the snaps on a One Size Nappy. For example "adjust the rise snaps to make the nappy larger".



A plastic snap fastening often found on nappies to fasten them around the waist, or on the front rise on One Size Nappies. Also known as 'poppers'.



A stay-dry material often found on the inside of nappies. This is a man-made, polyester material and has no relation to animal based suede.


Terry Nappy / Terry Squares:

The Terry Nappy is the traditional nappy that your mother or grandmother would have used! A square piece of terry cotton (or more recently, sometimes bamboo) that can be folded in a manner of ways and fixed with pins or a nappy fastener. They are extremely versatile and quick to dry.


Training Pants:

A thicker, more absorbent style of underwear that can be used during the transition from nappies to potty training.



Unbleached fibres are those which have not gone through a chemical bleaching process. They usually retain more of the fibre's natural oils and waxes, so may need washing more times than bleached fibres before they reach full absorbency.



Wicking can mean two things:

  1. Positive - wicking is where stay dry layers or liners, such as microfleece are working correctly. These stay dry layers are designed to draw moisture through and into the absorbent parts of the nappy, thus wicking the moisture away from baby's skin.
  2. Negative - wicking can mean when moisture is wicked from the edges of the nappy onto clothing.



A Nappy Wrap is a waterproof or water resistant nappy cover which can be used over fitted or flat nappies to contain moisture. They can be found in a variety of materials, including PUL, wool and fleece, and are usually fastened with Aplix or Poppers.  Also known as a "nappy cover".