Some of the terminology parents use when discussing cloth diapers is as complex as a new language.  Here is a break-down of terms and abbreviations used in cloth diapering.

AI2 or “All-in-Two” This style of diaper consists of an outer diaper cover and an absorbent pad.  The pad snaps into the diaper shell. When the diaper is soiled, the absorbent pad is replaced with a fresh pad and the diaper cover is reused for several diaper changes.  All-in-Two diaper covers are sometimes used with disposable inserts.

AIO or “All-in-One” This style of diaper is the most comparable to disposable diapers.  The entire diaper is one piece, and the diaper attaches with snaps or Velcro™-like material.

Ammonia The compound that urine is converted to. Ammonia has a recognizable odor.  You may smell ammonia odor after soiled diapers sit for several hours, or you may smell strong ammonia odor if your diapers have build-up and need to be stripped.  You might notice some ammonia smell in diapers used overnight.

Aplix Aplix is similar to Velcro™ and is supposed to be better quality.

Build-up Residue on the diapers that causes a bad smell, diaper rash, or prevents the diaper from absorbing liquid.

CD an abbreviation for cloth diapers.

China Cheepies Cloth diapers made in China under unethical conditions and imported under suspicious methods. Diapers are not inspected for safety and are very inexpensive.

Contoured A style of diaper similar to pre-folds and flats, but having a contoured shape.  Usually these diapers have elastic around the leg openings and require a waterproof cover.

Counterfeit Diaper A brand name look-alike intended to fool the consumer into purchasing a cheaply made product. Purchase diapers from reputable retailers to avoid counterfeit products.

Detergent A cloth-diaper-safe detergent is needed to prevent build-up on the diapers

Diaper Cover A diaper cover is made of waterproof material and is used to contain wetness inside the diaper.

Diaper Pail A container used to store soiled cloth diapers. It requires a pail liner.

Diaper Service A company that rents cloth diapers to consumers.  The service typically picks up soiled diapers and returns fresh diapers on a weekly schedule.  Diaper services allow you to have the benefits of cloth diapering without having to launder the diapers yourself.  Services range in price, but are generally cheaper than using disposable diapers.

Diaper Shell Referring to the stuffable diaper cover of pocket diapers, or the reusable diaper cover of All-in-Twos.

Diaper Sprayer This is a contraption, similar to the sprayer on your kitchen sink, which attaches to your toilet. Diaper sprayers are used to rinse off especially messy poops after baby starts eating solid foods.  Diaper sprayers are unnecessary for exclusively breastfeed babies, since their liquid poop dissolves away in the wash.

Disposable Diaper The first disposable diaper was probably invented around 1940 and consisted of plant-based absorbent material used in a reusable diaper cover.  Completely disposable diapers were invented in 1961, and manufacturers used many marketing strategies to try to convert all parents to using disposable diapers.  While some disposable diapers are advertised as biodegradable, the majority of diapers will not degrade.

Doubler An extra layer of absorbent material that is added to a diaper to increase the absorbency. Doublers are used with any style of diaper when additional absorbency is required.

Fitted A fitted diaper contains absorbent material that “fits” snuggly to baby without any folding. Fitted diapers are not waterproof, so a diaper cover is needed to contain wetness.

Flat Flat pieces of cloth that are folded and attached to baby.  A diaper cover is needed to contain wetness.  Flats are the most basic and least expensive diapering system. Cutting up old T-shirts or towels is an inexpensive way to make your own flat diapers.

Fleece Fleece is a common fabric used inside cloth diapers. Fleece lets wetness pass through it, and helps keep baby feeling dry.

Hemp A very environmentally sustainable fabric used often in cloth diapers.  Hemp is slower to absorb, but holds onto moisture very well.

Hook & Loop The generic term for Velcro™.

Hybrid This diapering system is part disposable and part reusable. An outer shell is washed and reused, while an inner disposable liner is thrown away when wet.

Hybrid Fitted A fitted diaper with a hidden inner layer of fleece which repels moisture back into the diaper. Hybrid fitteds are often used without a diaper cover during the day, but need a waterproof diaper cover for overnight use.

Insert An absorbent cloth (of any material) that is inserted into the pocket opening of a pocket-style cloth diaper.

Microfiber This type of fabric is often used as an absorbent material in cloth diapers.  Microfiber holds many times its weight in liquid and is fast to absorb.

Organic Grown without the use of pesticides.

One-Size This style of diaper adjusts to grow with baby and is used from birth to potty training.  Generally diapers fit babies 7-35 lbs, although specific weight ranges vary depending on diaper brand.

Pail Liner A reusable and washable waterproof bag that fits into a diaper pail and holds soiled cloth diapers.

pH Describes how acidic or basic something is.  The pH is adjusted by adding something acidic (like vinegar) or something basic (like baking soda).  Making water used to wash cloth diapers acidic or basic can ruin elastic and PUL: avoid additives in your laundry process.

Pocket Diaper This style of diaper comes with a diaper shell that has a pocket opening to stuff absorbent material.  Pocket lining is typically made with a fleece or microfleece that wicks moisture away from baby and onto the absorbent material inside the diaper. FuzziBunz created the first pocket diapers in 2000 and revolutionized the diaper industry.

Pre-fold This style of diaper is a rectangular piece of fabric with an extra strip of padding down the center that is “pre-folded” into the diaper. Prefolds require folding and, depending on the fold, they may need to be secured with a Snappi.  The diapers are not waterproof and a diaper cover must be used.

PUL Abbreviation for polyurethane laminate.  This is a waterproof material used to make diaper covers.

Repelling Moisture rolls off the diaper rather than being absorbed by the diaper.  To prevent repelling, cloth diaper users should avoid rash creams and fabric softeners.

Sized or Perfect-Size This describes the fit of the diaper.  Multiple sizes of diapers need to be purchased as the child grows. Sizes may include XS, S, M, L and XL.  Diapers are trimmer fitting than a one-sized option when babies are small.

Snappi Snappis are a type of diaper fastener used to replace the old-fashioned pins in cloth diapering.

Soaker This term is used to describe the middle, absorbent part of the diaper.  A soaker is often made of a different material than the rest of the diaper and is often associated with fitted diapers.

Stripping Stripping is a way to remove built-up residue on cloth diapers that causes stinking or repelling.  If you suspect a problem with your diapers, you should check with your manufacturer for instructions on stripping.

Training Pants Cloth pull-up training pants have stretchy sides that allow the child to pull the trainer up and down.

Unbleached: This term is used to describe material that has not undergone a chemical chlorine bleaching process.  Unbleached material is more environmentally friendly because bleaching releases toxic products like dioxins.

Wet Bag A reusable and washable waterproof bag that usually has a zippered top and is used to store soiled cloth diapers. Wet bags are a necessity for cloth diapering on the go, but they are also an alternative to using a diaper pail at home.

Wing Drop A problem that often occurs in diapers and covers with only two side snaps.  The addition of a third snap prevents fabric from the underside of the diaper from popping out, or dropping, and resulting in leaks.

Wipes Reusable wipes are made out of any fabric material.  Reusable wipes usually save families about $5 per week.


  1. thank you for putting this together! it'll prove to be a great resource to many moms, i'm sure!

  2. This is really great! I wish I had something as easy as this when I first started CDing. May I share this in my local CD group?

    1. Absolutely! Thanks for visiting and leaving a note.

  3. I like that you included this on your blog and made it easy to find. It looks great and is helpful to those new to CDing.

  4. Thanks for all the terms! I'm new to cloth diapering so this is really helpful. Plus, this will be good for my husband to look at since sometimes he doesn't understand what I am saying :)

  5. WOW! Great directory! So helpful for a first time cloth mama!