Cloth Nappy Terminology

Cloth Nappy Terminology


What the fluff?

Getting your head around cloth nappy terminology.

When I first started researching modern cloth nappies, I remember being completely overwhelmed by all of the different styles of cloth nappies, the different cloth nappy materials and of course the dozens of different brands there were to choose from.

But one thing I wasn't expecting was that the cloth nappy world has it's own entire language! Forums and Facebook groups are filled with confusing terms, acronyms and words that I simply had never heard of before!

So in order to assist other families who are beginning their cloth journey, I have compiled a list of commonly used terms and abbreviations for you to refer to!


AIO (All-in-one) - refers to a style of modern cloth nappy that has its waterproof outer shell and absorbent inner all sewn together as one. It often functions similarly to a disposable nappy.

AI2 (All-in-two) - refers to a style of modern cloth nappy that is made of two components - the outer shell and the absorbent insert/s. Usually the inserts are simply laid into the shell or attached to it with snaps which can be removed easily for the washing and drying process.

AWJ (Athletic wicking jersey) - this is a material that is sometimes used to line the inside of an MCN. It is a light, moisture wicking fabric that is good for sensitive skin and has stay-dry properties.

Booster - this term refers to any kind of absorbent material that is added to an MCN for extra protection. This may be another insert, trifold or really any absorbent material found around the home.

EBF (Exclusively breastfed) - refers to babies (often newborns) who are exclusively breastfed and not yet eating solids or feeds supplemented by formula.

Pocket nappy - this is a style of nappy that has a pocket that you stuff with absorbent inserts, it functions very similarly to a disposable nappy.

OTB (On the bum/butt) - a term used to describe a cloth nappy being worn ‘on the bum’. Often brands will provide OTB images so that customers can see what the nappy will look like when worn.

OSFM (One size fits most) - this is a term for a nappy with adjustable sizing.

WAHM (Work at home mum) - this is a term used to describe mums who run a business from home, in the cloth nappy world this specifically refers to handmade businesses/handmade nappies.

MCN (Modern cloth nappy) - this is the contemporary version of a cloth nappy that usually has a waterproof outer shell and absorbent inner core and very much mimic the convenience of a disposable nappy. There are several varieties of MCN styles including pocket, AIO, AI2, fitteds etc. MCNs can sometimes be confused for the old traditional terry squares and plastic pilchers of 30 years ago (see also Flats)

Minky - a soft and fluffy material that is laminated on one side to make it waterproof, much like PUL.

PUL (Polyurethane laminate) - this is a polyester fabric that has been laminated in order to create a waterproof material. This is the most commonly used material for modern cloth nappy outer shells.

ISO/DISO (In search of/Desperately in search of) - a term often used in buy/swap/sell groups when someone is desperately in search of a particular print or product.

Insert - this is the absorbent material that you place inside the waterproof shell. Inserts are usually made from either microfiber, bamboo, cotton or hemp and come in a variety of shapes and thicknesses.

Flats - Flat nappies are the traditional terry towelling or muslin squares that are folded and fastened with a pin or Snappi and a waterproof cover added over the top.

Fluff - colloquial term for cloth nappies.

Fluff Mail - when you receive a package of cloth nappies and/or accessories in the mail.

Fitted - A fitted nappy is a type of nappy that is made entirely of absorbent material, such as hemp or bamboo. Because the whole nappy is absorbent, it will require a separate waterproof cover.

Dry Pail - this is a bucket or basket that you store wet or soiled nappies in. It should have no lid to allow for air flow and minimise smells.

Delaminating - when the waterproof membrane of PUL fabric has broken down (often due to heat, improper care or age) and results in the fabric no longer being waterproof.

SS/S&S (Strip and Sanitise) - this refers to a washing method done to thoroughly clean smelly or second hand nappies. You can find more information on how to perform an S&S here.

Suede cloth - a soft, moisture wicking polyester fabric often used to line the inside of a cloth nappy due to its stay-dry properties. Note: suede cloth is not actually made from suede!

Stash - a term used to describe a person’s cloth nappy collection.

Trifold - This is a type of insertor booster that is flat and rectangular in shape and you fold it into thirds before placing inside a nappy shell. It has the benefit of providing multiple layers of absorbency when folded, but quick drying whilst unfolded.

Unicorn - a term used to describe a particularly popular, sold out, one-of-a-kind or limited edition print or product.

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