A Glossary of Reusable Nappy Terms

17 January 2024

Welcome to the world of cloth nappies. Lots of new parents want to start using reusable diapers on their babies but it can be a confusing world full of products that are hard to understand. We thought a dictionary of the most common items would be helpful.


Here is our A-Z guide of cloth nappy terms and their definitions - 

  • Airy Storage - current school of thought is to store used nappies in open, vented storage to allow air flow and prevent the build up of smells and ammonia. Mesh bags, mesh baskets, open nappy buckets, open nappy pails.
  • All-In-One / AIO - complete unit nappy, made like a disposable, easy to put on but harder to boost and longer to dry
  • All-In-Two / AI2 - similar to AIO cloth diapers but with a removable insert
  • Acidic wee - caused by teething, can cause urine to burn skin, leaving raw patches and sometimes blisters, may bleach nappies
  • Ammonia build up - caused by nappies not being stored correctly when taken off, by not being washed often enough or long enough, can cause baby to have sore, red, burnt skin or nappy rash and can degrade fabrics quickly, will smell like a litter tray or hair dye
  • Applix - velcro, hook and loop closure
  • Barrier Protection / cream - thin layer of emollient to prevent skin becoming wet or to protect if sensitive, always check it is cloth nappy safe, like coconut oil
  • Bamboo Nappies - normally made from bamboo viscose, super soft, stretchy and absorbent. Makes for thinner nappies than cotton but less hard wearing
  • Biodegradable - refers to materials that can be broken down naturally by organisms causing no pollution
  • Boosters - fabric additions to nappies to extend length of time before leaks and be more absorbent, useful overnight, made of cotton, hemp, bamboo
  • BTP / birth to potty / B2P - nappies or wraps designed to 'grow' with baby, using a poppered adjustable rise and longer wings
  • CCN - Clean Cloth Nappies - Australian group of cloth nappy washing experts with strict washing instructions developed by chemists to keep nappies in perfect clean condition
  • Cheeky wipes - the original cloth wipes system, with fresh boxes and bags for unused wipes kept damp ready for use, and mucky boxes and bags to store used wipes until washing with essential oils, the original one wipe wonder


  • Cloth Nappies - washable fabric used to catch urine and faeces 
  • Cloth nappy library - UKNN (UK Nappy Network) - voluntary organisation loaning cloth nappies and accessories for a small fee to families
  • Cloth wipes - small fabric reusable baby wipes stored moist ready to use then washed and used again
  • Contours - hour glass shaped boosters or liners
  • Cover - water resistant overlay for absorbent nappy, could be wool, fleece or PUL / TPU
  • Double gusset - ridge sewn into the crotch parallel to the leg rounds to create a gutter to contain liquid poo
  • Dry Pail - to store used nappies dry rather than soaking in water (wet pailing) until they are washed, stops material degrading quickly
  • Fitted nappy - shaped absorbent nappy, needs an outer waterproof cover
  • Fleece - polyester material that allows moisture under pressure through and traps it if absorbent material sits below
  • Folds - different ways of folding muslins, terry squares and flats to create nappies, secured with a nippa or pins
  • Gusset - ruched elastic leg rounds creating a gully for catching waste in nappies, can be single or double
  • Heavy wetters - as baby drinks more, they will increase in urine output and may become much wetter needing more boosters especially at night time
  • Hemp - super absorbent, super sustainable fabric, can go hard over time
  • Hook and loop - velcro or applix, one side has tiny loops and the other hooks to grip into them. Useful for a close fit but can lose their stick and collect fluff and dirt, can cause damage to other items in the wash
  • Hybrid - nappies that can have reusable or disposable inserts
  • Inserts - sewn rectangular layers of fabric for inserting into pocket nappies
  • lanolin - wool fat, used as a barrier cream or to waterproof (lanolise) wool
  • laundry tabs - small looped sections next to the wings of velcro nappies for the hooked wing to stick to during wash loads to prevent damage to other items or the nappy itself.
  • Liners - either reusable fleece or disposable bamboo / paper based rectangular or hour glass strips to lay nearest to babies skin inside nappies. They have two jobs, to keep baby dry and to catch poo making clean up easier and somewhat protecting the nappy. Fleece will be more efficient at keeping baby dry.
  • Mesh bag - a net bag made to store damp items before washing - they come in a variety of sizes and can store make up wipes, nappies, baby wipes, hand towels, reusable period products. They provide airy storage to prevent smells building up.
  • Microfibre / microfiber - an absorbent material used as inserts in pocket nappies, not to be put near babies skin as it absorbs so quickly it can be drying and scratchy. Great as a first layer inside a pocket or behind a fleece liner. Drinks quickly but acts like a sponge so benefits from a cotton or bamboo layer behind to absorb anything squeezed out.
  • Microfleece - not to be confused with microfibre, provides a stay dry layer next to the skin, a thin layer of fleece
  • Modern Cloth Nappy - are shaped using elastic, poppers and velcro to fit round baby like a disposable nappy
  • Nappy Buckets - storage for used cloth nappies
  • Nappy Fasteners - anything that secures a nappy - velcro / poppers / snaps / nappy nippas
  • Nappy free time - leaving baby to play with no nappy on to air the skin between changes
  • Nappy Nippas - modern equivalent to a safety pin, made of rigid plastic hooks and stretchy plastic arms to grip the wings and front of the fitted nappy / prefold / muslin in a T shape to hold it closed
  • Nappy pins - safety pins to hold prefolds and unshaped flats together
  • Newborn nappy - small nappies designed for the first few months, worth investing in a few and normally have good resale value
  • Night nappy - heavier absorbency nappy for overnight usually a fitted requiring a separate wrap made from bamboo / hemp / cotton, worth having 3 to 4 depending on your washing and drying turn around
  • One size fits most / One size fits all - OSFM / OSFA - as with B2P, instead of sized nappies these are designed to grow with baby using adjustable poppered rise and exrended poppered or velcro waist wings
  • On the bum - cloth using slang for the nappy baby is wearing currently
  • Organic - no chemical fertilisers or pesticides, tends to be a little more expensive
  • Outer - waterproof leakproof outer layer 
  • Pail Liner - mesh or PUL lined bag to fit inside a bucket or nappy pail
  • Pocket  / pocket Nappies - waterproof outer shell with stay dry (fleece) inner with a ruched pocket between the two that can be stuffed with inserts, velcro or popper closure
  • Poppers - Waist, Hip, Rise poppers to adjust nappies to fit snugly, can make a nappy fit from newborn to toddler
  • Preloved - nappies bought and sold second hand through pre-loved sites on social media
  • Prewash
  • PUL - polyurethane laminate, thin layer of polythene chemically bonded to fabric like cotton or plush, thickness of cling film leaving it breathable yet waterproof
  • Pull-Up - toddler nappy that can be pulled up and down the legs for potty training but still unpoppered if soiled
  • Rise - poppered folds on the front of one size fits most nappies and wraps to shrink or grow in line with baby to fit from newborn to toddler
  • Shaped nappy - non waterproof absorbent cloth layers sewn into a nappy shape with elasticated leg rounds, poppers or velcro equivalent to terry squares or prefolds
  • Snaps - poppers, male to female press studs
  • Soaker - fleece or wool shorts or trousers to pull up and over the top of cloth nappies that don't have a waterproof layer, great for overnight as more comfortable and breathable than wraps
  • Soaking Solution - any water based solution used to soak nappies, current school of thought is to keep this short, and store nappies 'dry' before washing. You can add stain removers, tea tree oil, a small amount of detergent etc
  • Starch stains - black marks often caused by medicines especially calpol and some foods
  • Stripping / strip washing - a longer, hotter wash to thoroughly clean nappies, if they are second hand, if there has been illness or thrush in the family or ammonia build up
  • a-z-cloth-nappy-glossary
  • Strucket - bucket and strainer in one for soaking, and draining washing / cloth nappies / sports equipment / soiled bedding 
  • Swim nappy -  waterproof outer layer or neoprene reusable cover for swimming, no absorbency needed or baby will become heavy and there is a drowning risk, old wraps can be used as swim nappies but use caution as prolonged exposure to chlorine could damage them
  • Tabs - waist side panels to secure wings of nappy, normally velcro
  • Tea tree oil -powerful antiseptic, anti-bactericidal, fungicidal essential oil, not for use on babies skin but in mucky wipes solution
  • Terry - weave of fabric that creates loops to hold more fluid, like towelling
  • TPU - thermoplastic polyurethane, layer of polythene heat bonded to fabric like cotton or plush, as thin as cling film meaning it is breathable yet waterproof
  • Training pants - potty training pants for toddlers when they are ready to move on from nappies but still have accidents
  • Two-Part Nappy / Two parter - reusable cloth nappy that has a separate absorbent and waterproof element
  • Unbleached - natural fabric with less processing, without dyes or bleaches, often organic too
  • WAHM - Work At Home Mum - often making reusable baby care items
  • Wet Bag - Bags for storing used nappies, wipes, soiled clothes with a PUL lined interior and cotton outer with zips, can be single or double pockets and in a variety of sizes
  • Wet Pailing - method of storing cloth baby items after use and before washing to begin the cleaning process, in a nappy bucket or strucket, current thought is that dry pailing prolongs fabric life and leads to less smells
  • Wicking - moisture making it around the leg rounds or waist of nappies and leaking onto clothing or bedding; also absorbent fabric behind fleece drinking fluid to 'wick' it away from the skin
  • Wipes - reusable cloth baby wipes directly replacing disposable wipes, great for babies skin, the environment and much cheaper in the long run than single use wipes
  • Wool -  lanolised wool naturally evaporates urine to form a leakproof, breathable layer over cloth nappies, great at night, only requires washing once in a while and re-lanolising 
  • Wraps - PUL or TPU patterned waterproof nappy cover with poppers or velcro to cover absorbent nappies

"Doodoo nappies and wipes = game changer! I love this company and such a fan of their products. I use the cheeky wipes and doodoo nappies for my baby. The wipes are much better than disposable wipes as I can clean my baby using just one wipe whereas disposable water wipes I would use perhaps 3 or 4.

I also find that my baby’s skin has improved. The nappies fit really well on my baby. Are not bulky and I think my baby can more freely when compared to other brands I have tried.......I now wouldn’t shop anywhere else for my reusables now and 100% recommended this company." Kirsty Jan 24 Trustpilot review 

We hope this list is useful and can help you understand the world of cloth bums a bit more!

As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long, nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences...

About the Author: Kirstin Scriven is part of the Customer Experience team at Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. She is mum to three kids and loves the forest, the sea and the hills!

Along with the rest of our crack team, she spends most days talking about poo, pee and periods and loves a chance to overshare. Cheeky wipes were recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2021, celebrating their hard work over the last 13 years.

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