The Cloth Nappy Glossary

So you are interested in using cloth nappies but haven't got a clue what all the abbreviations and nappy lingo means!? I hear you! When I first started looking into using cloth nappies 7 years ago I had no idea how to read any of the advice in the online forums and websites. I needed a glossary to decode all of the lingo around cloth nappies. And now, 7 years later, I am writing one to share with everyone who is currently in that early stage of researching the transition to cloth.

If there is anything you think I've missed, please feel free to scroll down and let me know in the comments at the bottom.

Modern Cloth Nappy Lingo by Cloth and Carry



All In One Nappy (AIO): A complete nappy that comes with absorbency sewn into the waterproof cover. These are well loved for their simplicity (especially in newborn nappies) however they may take longer to dry. 

All In Two Nappy (AI2): A nappy that includes a waterproof cover and removable absorbency layers that typically "snap in". These individual components can be washed and dried separately, so drying times are often faster. Benefits of the AI2 include that this style of cloth nappy can be easily adjusted/adapted to your child's absorbency requirements, and the ability to dry inserts separately (and often in the clothes dryer, depending on the brand recommendations and textile used). 

Aplix: Modern cloth nappies can be fixed in place using Aplix, which may also be known as Hook and Loop or Velcro. 

Booster: A separate nappy absorbency pad that can be added to increase absorbency of a nappy. 

CC - China Cheapies: China cheapie refers to cheap, generic brand nappies commonly bought from eBay. These can be a good way to bulk your stash when you initially start out with cloth but they often use charcoal microfiber inserts covered in bamboo which is generally insufficient absorption.

Cloth Wipes: Reusable square wipes that are used instead of disposable nappy wipes for cleaning your baby's bottom. These can be made from multiple different fibres including bamboo, cotton, flannelette or terry towelling. Reusable cloth wipes are washed and dried in the same way that cloth nappies are laundered. 

Cloth Nappy Library: A Modern Cloth Nappy (MCN) Library gives parents the opportunity to trial a variety of nappies, primarily MCNs, and learn what works for their family before financially committing to a stash of reusable nappies. A great idea when there are so many choices on the market. A professionally laundered and sanitized cloth nappy library service is vital to protect your baby’s health, preventing transmission of disease. If you are unsure, please ask if they meet Australian Laundry Standard AS/NZS 4146. 

Cover: Reusable nappies require a waterproof cover placed over the washable absorbency inserts/layers. Many MCNs come complete with a cover, including all-in-one, all-in-two and pocket nappies. Some nappies require a cover to be purchased separately including prefold, fitted and flat nappies. Waterproof covers may be lined with PUL or TPU, or they may be made from wool or fleece. Wool covers require additional work to maintain their waterproof properties through lanolising. 

Doubler: A separate nappy absorbency pad that can be added to increase absorbency of a nappy. Also known as a booster.

Dry Pailing: Keeping your dirty nappies cooped up inside a bucket full of water is a safety hazard and is no longer required or recommended. A dry pail is an open air basket or aerated bucket which allows constant airflow around dirty nappies whilst they await a pre-wash and then wash cycle. Dry pailing will usually prolong the life of the fibres in your nappies. Please note soaking nappies is not required except in instances of difficult staining or during a Strip and Sanitise process. 

Some people will have 2x dry pail baskets: one for nappies awaiting a daily pre-wash and another for those that have already been pre-washed and are ready for the main wash (usually every 2-3 days). Wet nappies are placed straight into the dry pail and stored until they are pre-rinsed (usually daily). Soiled nappies should have solid materials flushed down the toilet prior to being rinsed (using a toilet sprayer or in the laundry sink) and these are then placed in the dry pail until the pre-rinse. 

Dryer Balls: Small, round "balls" placed inside a clothes dryer which aim to naturally soften fabrics whilst reducing static electricity and often cutting drying time by up to 25%. Fabric softeners are not recommended for routine, regular use when washing cloth nappies due to the potential for build-up of residues which may affect the absorbency of the nappies. Dryer balls are often available from large supermarkets, department stores and discount shops and are usually made from natural wool or plastic. Or make your own by placing a tennis ball inside a knotted sock! 

Fitted Nappy: A nappy that is sized to a particular weight range similar to disposables. These usually have minimal adjustability but are very versatile in terms of boosting under a cover to maximise absorbency. 

Flats: A flat square of fabric, typically terry towelling, bamboo or hemp that can be folded in a variety of ways depending on the size of your baby and the absorbency required. They are usually fastened with a Snappi®.

Hook and Loop: Modern cloth nappies can be fixed in place using Hook and Loop, which may also be known as Velcro or Aplix. 

Inserts: The absorbent layers that are put inside the nappy covers to absorb the urine. Inserts come in many shapes, sizes and materials with varying absorbencies so that you can customise for your child's needs.

ISO/DISO: In Search of/Desperately in Search of.

Lanolin: The fat from sheep's wool which gives it water repelling properties and increases the hydrophobic properties of the wool covers when applied.

Liner: A non-absorbent piece of fabric which is sometimes used as the top layer against the skin to protect the other inserts from soiling. Liners can be either disposable or reusable. Some daycare centres insist on the use of disposable liners. 

Night Nappy: A MCN that has extra absorbency or boosting options to increase the longevity to last all night.

OSFM: One Size Fits Most. Refers to the size of the product and means that it is adjustable to fit "most" wearers.

OSFA: One Size Fits All. Refers to the size of the product and means that it is adjustable to fit all wearers.

OTB: On the Bum. MCN fanatics in many of the Facebook groups often discuss which nappy prints their children are wearing at the time.

Prefold: A versatile and cost effective "precut" square or rectangular nappy similar to a flat nappy but usually smaller. The middle section generally has an additional pad of extra absorbency. These can be used as a newborn nappy using multiple different folding styles, and can also be used to boost absorbency for older babies. Prefold nappies require a separate waterproof cover and can be fixed in place using nappy pins or nappy fasteners (including Snappi).

Pocket Nappy: A water resistant shell that is generally lined with microfleece or athletic jersey to create a pocket that you can "stuff" your inserts into.

Poonami / Pooplosion / Poosplosion: A large, messy number 2 that results in poo breaching the nappy's containment lines, hence causing leakage beyond the nappy absorbency and cover. These are most common in the early, newborn months and often occur in the pram or car seat. It is worthwhile noting that the incidence of a poonami is significantly lower whilst using reusable cloth nappies in comparison with disposables, and they are generally only likely to occur in a poorly fitted or inadequately absorbent cloth nappy. 

PUL / Polyurethane Laminate: A chemically bonded waterproof fabric which is often used to create waterproof nappy covers, change mats, bibs, wetbags, reusable nursing / breastfeeding pads and other reusable nappy accessories. 

RAOK: Random Act of Kindness. Often used in Facebook groups where people give away products for free via ballot etc.

Snake: A long absorbent nappy insert / booster which can be folded in multiple different ways to increase absorbency according to the child's individual needs (for example at the front for tummy sleepers and boys, in the middle for girls, at the back for children prone to large, wet pooplosions).

Snappi: A brand of nappy fastener used for fixing prefolds, fitted and flat nappies. The Snappi® nappy fastener is made from a stretchable plastic which is T-shaped with grips on each end. These grips hook into the cloth nappy to ensure a snug but comfortable fit for baby. Snappi® makes using environmentally friendly cloth nappies easy and ouch less! They replaced the old fashioned nappy pins about 25 years ago. A collective sigh of relief for parents!

Strip and Sanitise (S&S): A deep cleaning process which may be recommended for removing build up of particles, smells, stains, fungal or bacterial infections or detergent products. It is also an important part of preparing secondhand nappies. The rationale behind the S&S is a little complicated so Cloth and Carry recommends following the Clean Cloth Nappies Strip and Sanitise method, and we welcome customers to email us if you have questions regarding if and when you should do this for your nappies (

  • Strip: deep cleaning of all absorbent nappy items including inserts, boosters, prefolds, flats, fitted nappies and all-in-one (AIO) nappies. This process is not usually required for covers or pocket shells, however these should be included in the sanitise process.
  • Sanitise: a crucial step which must follow a nappy strip wash (and can be done without a strip, if required) which oxidises or kills ammonia within all nappy components (including absorbent layers AND covers/shells) and removes problematic microbes to improve the health of your reusable nappies. 

The strip protocol is no longer recommended by Clean Cloth Nappies (CCN); they have amended their sanitise protocol and more information can be found here.

Swim: Similar to a nappy cover, they are a fabric shell, sometimes lined but not absorbent to contain poo when swimming. These are a great alternative to disposable swim nappies and can be easily used even without being an MCN user.

TPU Thermoplastic Polyurethane: A heat bonded waterproof fabric which is often used to create waterproof nappy covers, change mats, bibs, wetbags, reusable nursing / breastfeeding pads and other reusable nappy accessories. 

Velcro: Modern cloth nappies can be fixed in place using Velcro, which may also be known as Hook and Loop or Aplix. 

Wet Bags: A PUL bag with a zip that can be used for a variety of reasons; soiled nappies, wet/soiled clothing, snacks, anything really!

Work At Home Dad (WAHD): A small boutique business owned and run by a dad working from his place of residence, often whilst parenting and/or homeschooling children. 

Work At Home Mum (WAHM): A small boutique business owned and run by a mum working from her place of residence, often whilst parenting and/or homeschooling children. 

Work At Home Parents (WAHP): A small boutique business owned and run by a couple working from their place of residence, often whilst parenting and/or homeschooling children. 


I would like to acknowledge the members of my Facebook group The MCN Community by Cloth and Carry for their contributions to this blog post, as well as the wonderful teams at the Australian Nappy Association and Clean Cloth Nappies

Alyce x

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