Cloth Diaper Liners (Disposable, Reusable & DIY)

Diaper liners are an easy and affordable way to enhance your cloth diapering experience. Yes, cloth diapers are healthier for your baby, better for the environment, and cost way less than disposables. However, it does have its challenges, and cloth diaper liners help eliminate a lot of them!

For starters, some people find the idea of handling poop atrocious. Second, cloth diapers can easily stain. Third, you cannot use many diaper rash creams on cloth diapers. And finally, some just really want that “stay dry” feeling that disposable diapers offer for their little one’s tush!  

Cloth diaper inserts help with all of that. In this article, we’re going to cover what types are available, their pros and cons, how to use them, how to make them, which materials are best, and more!

How to pick cloth diaper liners pin

What are cloth diaper liners? Don’t get this mixed up!

Cloth diaper liners are single layers of fabric or mesh that you add to your cloth diaper to make solid waste cleanup easier and offer a stay-dry effect for your child’s skin. They are also a good way to protect your diapers from stains and from cloth diaper creams.

They are not to be mistaken for cloth diaper inserts. Cloth diaper liners do not absorb any liquid as inserts do. Instead, liners let liquid pass through them while holding solid substances, like waste or ointments, on top.

RELATED: Were you looking for absorbency? Here’s a guide to help you figure out which inserts will work best for your needs!

In other words, inserts are the heart of a diaper. They are what makes it function. Cloth diaper liners, on the other hand, are completely optional and are only used to simplify clean-up, offer a more “feel dry” experience when a diaper is wet, or protect cloth diapers from damage.

Pros of diaper liners

  • Simplify clean-up of solids – no more scraping!
  • Many cloth diaper liners offer “stay dry” effects for more comfort
  • Allows for the use of any diaper rash cream or ointment
  • Protects against stains

Cons of diaper liners

  • Adds to your laundry when using reusables
  • Creates more waste when using disposables

How to use cloth diaper liners

Both disposable cloth diaper liners and reusable cloth diaper liners are placed on top of the cloth diaper. They should be layered between your diaper and your baby so that it will be what touches your baby, not the diaper. 

Ensure all of the liner and other fabric are tucked into the diaper cover to avoid unwanted leaks. With disposables, it’s sometimes needed to tug them lengthwise to make them longer before placing them. Alternatively, tuck them in around the diaper insert if needed. 

When it comes to changing, soiled liners will either go into the trash if it’s disposable or put in the wash with your diapers if they’re washable. When using reusable/washable liners, solids are disposed of in the toilet and rinsed quickly before throwing them in the wash.

Cloth diaper liners can also be used in disposable diapers to help reduce irritation for babies with sensitive skin!

RELATED: Struggling with understanding the basics of cloth diapers? Find our cloth diapers 101 post here to help you get started.

Baby bottom tummy timy on bed

Types of cloth diaper liners

There are two types of liners, disposable mesh ones, and fabric reusable ones. Here’s a look at each type:

Disposable cloth diaper liners

Disposable liners for cloth diapers are pre-cut, thin fabric-like mesh that you place between the cloth diaper absorbency and your child’s bottom to catch the solids and act as a barrier to protect your diaper from diaper balms and creams.

This is the best option for those who want to deal with poop as little as possible.

That’s because, when using a disposable cloth diaper liner, you simply remove it along with its containing solids and throw them away. No poop handling or rinsing required! 

Disposable cloth diaper liners are most often made from rayon or bamboo viscose. Though rayon is a ‘wicking’ fiber, the liner is often too thin to prevent wetness from being felt. Disposable diaper liners do not offer that “stay dry” feeling that reusable diaper liners do.

Can you flush biodegradable cloth diaper liners?

Some cloth diaper liners are labeled as flushable. However, not one single biodegradable liner out there today should be flushed down the toilet. Why? Because like baby wipes, they get stuck, clump up, and do long-term damage not just in your home, but your community’s sewage system as well. Disposable “flushable” liners should be thrown out in the garbage each time.

My favorite picks

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I prefer reusable liners, but when out and about I find it more convenient to use disposable liners (if any at all, depending on the day). So naturally, I’ve tried a few brands and recommend the Bumkins, Osocozy, or ALVABABY disposable liners, Bumkins being my first choice.

RELATED: Calculate how many cloth diapers you actually need quickly, whether you’re cloth diapering an older baby or only part-time!

Reusable cloth diaper liners

Reusable (or washable) cloth diaper liners are made from a single layer of fabric that can be washed and reused many times. Like disposable liners, they work to protect your diapers and make clean-up easier, but unlike disposables, they can also wick moisture away from your child’s skin. 

The only downside? You still have to deal with cleaning poop.

Personally, I find reusable liners to work so much better than disposable liners when it comes to keeping my baby feeling dry and protecting against stains or creams.

Reusable liners are most often made of fleece but can be made from cotton, polyester, or wool.

Fleece and wool are arguably the best cloth diaper liner materials because they wick moisture away, pulling moisture towards your absorbency layers and maintaining their dry feeling even when wet. It is essentially adding a “stay-dry” layer, which is amazing for babies who are prone to moisture-caused rashes!

Most pocket diapers have a fleece lining built in that has a similar effect, but some parents choose to use liners anyway to protect their more expensive pocket diapers from stains or to make clean-up easier.

Fleece cloth diaper liners

Microfleece liners don’t fray and do an excellent job of keeping moisture away from the skin. They’re synthetic and usually made from polyester, but they’re very soft, warm, and lightweight. They’re also highly breathable which makes them quick-drying and stops natural odors from building up over time. Not only that, but they’re also very durable! They don’t stretch or pill over time with repeated use.

Wool cloth diaper liners

Merino wool liners are a versatile, soft, and temperature-regulating all-natural option that can be used as a stay-dry protective layer or to boost a diaper covers waterproofing. Wool naturally moves moisture away from the skin, so when used as a stay-dry layer, it works to move urine to the more absorbing fabrics. Unlike other liners, once all absorbency is fully saturated, it starts to absorb while retaining that stay-dry feeling.

One of the most notable properties though is its ability to shed bacteria and dirt when air-dried. This means they can air dry between uses and be used many times between washes, so long as no solids were involved. When using wool as a stay-dry liner, you do not need to lanolize them because we want liquid to pass through them easily.

It can secondly be used to boost absorbency and waterproofing. Seriously! It seems like they can triple the absorbency of existing diapers. After treating with lanolin, instead of placing directly against the skin, place it directly inside the wool diaper cover as the lowest layer, underneath any other absorbing fabric. Doing this adds leak protection when a diaper cover (of any kind) is really worn out and starting to wick moisture through the fabric or when using a diaper cover that you want to make more nighttime-worthy.

The catch? There’s a bit of a learning curve to properly care for them. Some wool liners are best to be hand-washed and laid flat to dry to keep them in good condition. Fortunately, since they’re so breathable they both wash and dry very quickly.

RELATED: Wool is even more incredible as a diaper cover. I wrote a whole post on how superior wool diaper covers really are!

Washing reusable cloth diaper liners

Washing reusable liners are as simple as throwing them in the wash in most cases. Some liners, like those made of all-natural merino wool, will often require hand-washing.

When using cloth diaper cream that’s not recommended for cloth diapers (one that’s made with zinc or petroleum), it’s best to wash your reusable cloth diaper liners with regular clothes and not with your diapers. This will prevent the transfer of the residue onto your diapers and help avoid the need to strip or reset cloth diapers in the future due to build-up.

In most cases, liners can be air-dried since they are so thin and breathable.

RELATED: Learn the best tried-and-true overnight cloth diaper solutions to end leaks once and for all.

Comparing reusable and disposable cloth diaper liners

MaterialRayon / Bamboo viscoseFleece, Wool, Cotton
“Stay dry” feelingNoYes
Easier cleanupYes, just throw it out!Yes, it’s easier to shake solids off a liner than a diaper
Protects against diaper creamsYes, but prone to bunching and slippageYes
Combats diaper rashNoYes, helps eliminate moisture-caused rashes
Child laying on bed with feet towards camera

How do you make DIY diaper liners?

You may have noticed that it’s actually quite hard to find reusable liners to purchase. This is because it’s so simple and inexpensive to make your own that most will do just that! Brands often don’t find it worthwhile to sell their own product, so many get discontinued fairly quickly.

All you need to make your own DIY cloth diaper liners is scissors and fleece or wool material, which you can even find at thrift stores from old sweaters or blankets. Look for thin, 1-to-2-layer material. Simply cut them into your preferred shape and size. It’s that simple.

You’ll want the size of them to be a bit smaller than your diaper so the reusable liners will lay right into the diaper without bunching.

Fleece doesn’t fray when cut, which makes it a good choice when making cloth diaper liners yourself. Interested in wool instead? There are tips for cutting wool fabric you can reference to avoid fraying.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When does a diaper liner not make sense?

Pocket diapers most often have a micro-fleece built right into them that sits directly against your child’s skin. So, when using pocket diapers and stuffing them, it may not make sense to add a liner unless you’d like to simply protect your diaper from stains. You could still use a wool liner to boost the cover’s absorbency by layering it underneath all of your inserts.

How many liners do you put in a cloth diaper?

All you need is one diaper liner. Adding more would only increase bulk with no added benefits. The exception is with wool liners, where you could use one directly against your child’s skin as you would with any liner with an additional one underneath all absorbency layers, directly against the diaper cover, to boost absorbency and waterproofing.

Can I use baby wipes as liners?

Because baby wipes are wet, it’s best not to use them as diaper liners as they’d lead to moisture-caused rashes.

Are cloth diapers necessary?

Not at all! Cloth diaper liners are optional cloth diapering accessories.

Are there other methods to remove poop without touching it?

Yes, there are! 5, in fact. One common and extremely simple way is to dunk and swish your diaper into the toilet water to remove any poop. A second way is to use a spatula to scrape poop off into the toilet. For more solid poops, you can simply plop them into the toilet bowl. Finally, you can buy and use a diaper sprayer or sink bidet to spray the poop right off your diaper with its added pressure.


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