PUL - otherwise known as polyurethane laminated fabric, is a lot more technical than just a plastic backing on fabric. The original application is the medical field, and it is still used for this purpose. Like cloth diapers, it is used to replace disposable products with reusable. It provides the waterproof barrier needed in the medical field that can survive multiple institutional washings. The laminate can also be autoclaved, which is a very high heat steam sterilization process, to make it safe for reuse even after it comes into contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
The polyurethane laminate can be customized by the manufacturer and comes in different thicknesses. For cloth diapers, 1 mil or 2 mil is generally preferred. This allows for a good stretch, complete waterproofing, and is still comfortable enough to wear next to the skin. There are other options for waterproof fabric, but PUL is so durable and reliably waterproof it has become a favorite for cloth diapers. It has been truly kid tested! (info taken from here).
Pros: These are LONG lasting covers. You can get them with velcro or snaps. They are great at containing leaks and wash really easily. You can find PUL covers in a variety of designs and colors. Good price for the cover.
Cons: They are not as breatheable as wool or fleece.
Nylon: The first diaper covers I ever bought were nylon. They are more lightweight than PUL covers and equally as protective. I really love nylon. They are more breatheable and quite cost effective. The company that made my original diaper covers is no longer (sob sob sob), but I have found some nice alternatives.
Pros: Breatheable, great price ($5!), wash very easily.
Cons: Right now I can only find them in a pull up pant. This on it's own isn't too bad, but when paired with a poop filled prefold, you could get some poop down the leg and whatnot. But, that is really the only con and it is something I can (and do) live with.
Fleece: A good fleece cover is a MUST. Fleece is breatheable and is really easy to take care of.
Pro: Breatheable, easy to take care of -- meaning you can wash it with your diapers and put it in the dryer, quick drying, keeps your baby's bum cool. Great for night time.
Cons: A bit bulky. Really, that is the only con I've ever found with fleece.
Favorite Fleece Cover - Stacinator Fleece Cover. This is the first fleece cover I have ever bought and still use them all the time. I have 4 Stacinator fleece covers in my rotation -- 1 newborn 1 small 1 medium 1 large and I LOVE THEM! (Stacinator is not paying me nor do they have any knowledge of my humble little blog).
Wool: This scares people. When I told my Mom I was going to use wool covers with Emma she was a bit nervous. She warned me that wool is itchy and that it would probably cause Emma to break out in a rash. I was not yet a knitter, so I didn't know how soft wool could be. I just knew that everywhere I read, wool was being praised, so I knew I had to give it a shot.
My first experience with wool was great. I got a wool cover from Stacinator (this was back when it was a WAHM company). I quickly lanolised it (putting lanolin back in the wool to keep it waterproof) and realized I had done something terribly wrong. The lanolin was chunky and all over the cover. It was ruined, I was sad. I contacted Stacy of Stacinator and told her what had happened. She apologized profusely (as if she was the one who did it) and said that her instructions were not clear. She then sent me a NEW cover and a prepaid envelope for the ruined one. She made a life long customer of me.
Ok, so what is the big deal with wool? Why do so many people love it? Why is it so scary? I really could do an entire post just about wool, but I will try to keep it simple and give you lots of links so if you want more information about something you can get it, deal? deal. Ok, here we go.
Wool has antibacterial properties. It is also very absorbant and can absorb up to 30 times it's weight. The lanolin in the wool keeps it clean, as one of my friends said, lanolin plus urine equals soap. So, this is what keeps it clean. You don't have to wash your wool unless it's poopy. I recommend getting a wool wash bar for these occasions. You will have to relanolize it every month or so, but that is not a big deal. I love Green Mountain Diapers site for all things wool. She has the best selection of wool covers, and has a fantastic tutorial of how to wash and lanolize your wool. Click on that tutorial link and read what she says. She is so very smart about wool and says it much better than I can :) Wool is breatheable and you can make your own covers really easily. If you knit, this is a great pattern, if you sew, this is a great pattern.
Snaps vs. Velcro
In the last post I was asked by 2 ladies how many to start with. This really depends on how often you want to do laundry. I will tell you what I recommend, but you can do whatever you want.
2-3 dozen diapers -- prefolds, all in ones, fitteds or pockets. If you are getting pockets, get enough inserts for them also.
4-6 covers -- PUL or Nylon.
2-3 wool or fleece covers for night time.
2 dozen cloth wipes if you choose to do cloth wipes.
1 diaper pail -- a big trash can works great for this.
If you want to sew your diapers, I recommend going to Diaper Sewing.
There we go...did I forget anything? Questions? Are you more confused than ever? I hope not!
To the cloth diaperers out there, what do you use and love? What advice would you give a newbie? What was most helpful to you when you first started out?