What are Cloth Diaper Liners?

Let’s be real, no one wants to touch poop.

Yes, cloth diapers are healthier for baby, better for the environment, and cost way less than disposables, but for some, the threat of having to touch poop is a deal breaker. Luckily, there are many cloth diaper accessories available to eliminate the chance you’ll stick your hand in it, including cloth diaper sprayers, finger mitts, and of course cloth diaper liners.

Cloth diaper liners are layers of material you add to your cloth diaper to make solid waste clean up easier. They are also a good way to protect your diapers from stains and from cloth diaper creams.

But before we get into what they can do, what types are available, and how to use them, we need to make it clear what exactly qualifies as a “cloth diaper liner” as sometimes these things can be mislabelled online.

Diaper Inserts Vs. Diaper Liners

It’s important to note right from the start that cloth diaper “liners” are different from cloth diaper “inserts.” Cloth diaper liners are thin pieces of fabric or mesh that are not meant to absorb any liquid. In fact, liners are meant to let liquid pass through them while holding more solid substances, like waste or ointments, on top.

In contrast, diaper inserts are meant to absorb and hold liquid in. Inserts are added to diapers to increase the diaper’s overall absorbency.

To put it another way, inserts, often made from bamboo, hemp, cotton, or microfiber, are the heart of a diaper, they are what makes it function. Liners on the other hand, which can be made from a single layer of fabric like fleece or a disposable mesh, are an extra layer that is only used to simplify clean-up or protect diapers from damage.

DISPOSABLE Liners Vs. Reusable Liners

As I just mentioned, there are two types of liners, disposable mesh ones, and fabric, re-usable ones. Here’s a quick look at each type:

Reusable Cloth Diaper Liners

Reusable, or washable, cloth diaper liners are made from a single layer of fabric that can be washed many times without falling apart. Washable liners can be made from cotton, but the most common material is fleece.

Fleece is more popular for lines than cotton as it also wicks moisture away and maintains it’s dry feeling even when wet so it is like adding a “stay-dry” layer. Fleece is also inexpensive and doesn’t fray when cut, which makes it great for DIY cloth diaper liners.

If you want to learn more about what type of fabric is best for washable liners, take a look at my post How To Make DIY Cloth Diaper Liners.

DIY Reusable Cloth Diaper Liners

If you’re shopping around for some reusable cloth diaper liners, you’ll find that it’s not easy to find some. In fact, now that Bummis has been closed and sold, I have been able to track down exactly three liners for sale at cloth diaper retailers: Amp Stay Dry Liners, Smart Bottoms Stay Dry Liners, and AppleCheeks MicroFleece Liners.

Why are there roughly 82 Million types and brands of cloth diaper inserts available for sale out there, and three measly liner products available? Simple, most cloth diaper users just make their own!

Once again I’ll direct you to my post How To Make DIY Cloth Diaper Liners for more information. In that post I’ve put together everything you need to know about making DIY reusable diaper liners.

Disposable Cloth Diaper Liners

Disposable liners for cloth diapers are rectangles of thin fabric-like mesh that you place between the diaper and baby to catch the solid waste and act as a barrier to protect your diapers from diaper balms and creams.

Disposable cloth diaper liners are most often made from viscose, often rayon viscose, or bamboo viscose. Bumkins and OsoCozy are two of the more popular examples of viscose liners.

Rayon is another word for viscose, is a material made from wood pulp broken down into cellulose bits, polymerized, and then extruded into fine, smooth fibers. “Bamboo rayon,” or “bamboo viscose” then is this same process but with bamboo pulp.

A few disposible liners, like Wegreeco, are made from Inego.

Inego fiber is made using a process similar to rayon, but using corn.

All viscose and inego disposible liners are biodegradable as they are made from these natural fibers, event if the process to make them is a bit unnatural.

Of course, since they are biodegradable, it should be no surprise that they don’t hold up well to reuse. Often these will find their way into the wash by accident, and they come out as a piece of fluff or string in most cases.

Many disposable liners are sold as flushable, but…

Are Disposable Cloth Diaper Liners Flushable?

No. Disposable liners are often labelled “flushable” but, just like baby wipes, disposable liners should be disposed of in the garbage.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve flushed them lots of times,” let me be clear:  you can flush both wipes and liners and they won’t clog your toilet immediately, but being able to flush something does not mean you should. 

Flushing wipes and liners will cost you, either with a septic tank replacement, or higher municipal taxes because your city needs to do extra maintenance on clogged sewer systems. In 2013, CBC reported that just in Canada, flushables were costing Canadian ratepayers at least $250 million a year.

Flushing wipes and liners will cost you, either with a septic tank replacement, or higher municipal taxes because your city needs to do extra maintenance on clogged sewer systems. In 2013, CBC reported that just in Canada, flushables were costing Canadian ratepayers at least $250 million a year.

Are Cloth Diaper Liners Necessary

Absolutely not. In no way are cloth diaper liners one of the necessities of cloth diapering, however like many non-essentials in cloth diapering, they do have quite a few benefits. Here’s the benefits for both disposable and reusable liners:

Disposable LinersReusable Liners
Makes clean up easierYes. Just toss it all!Yes, much easier to clean the liner than the whole diaper. Waste usually peels off fleece.
Protects diapers from creams and ointmentsYes, though some seepage can happen. Yes.
Keeps baby’s bottom feeling dry No. Rayon is a ‘wicking’ fiber but the liner is often too thin to prevent wetness from being felt. Yes, but fleece only.
Helps combat common diaper rashNo. Yes, can help moisture-caused rashes, but fleece only.

How Do you USe Cloth Diaper Liners?

Cloth diaper liners, whether disposable or reusable, are placed on top of the cloth diaper when the diaper is put on. They come between your diaper and your baby, meaning that it will be what touches your baby, not the diaper.

When soiled, the used liner will either go into the trash if it’s disposable (see my note about flushing disposable liners above) or put in the wash with your diapers if it’s washable.

If you’re using a cloth diaper cream that’s not recommended for cloth diapers, meaning one that’s made with zinc or petroleum, you may want to wash your reusable cloth diaper liner with regular clothes and not with your diapers to avoid the transfer of those creams onto your diapers.

That’s pretty much it.

Other Methods to Remove the Poop Without Touching It

If you’re not sure about liners yet, you may want to have a look at some of the other ways you can get the poop off your cloth diapers easily and mess-free. Click here to see the list of ways to remove the poop.

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