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Thursday, March 27, 2014

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Flats: Hemp, Bamboo, and Cotton? Oh My!

Many blog posts already tell you the perks about flats. Among other things they are the most cost effective option out there, ranging from pennies to a handful of dollars each. Flats clean easy, ideal for those with never-ending stink issues or who hand wash. Flats are versatile. Search for a video on flat folds and you’ll find dozens of options, easily customizable for boy or girl, newborn or toddler. The list goes on, but what is far more rarely discussed is type of flats.

WHICH flat diaper should you purchase? Flour sack towel? Cotton? Hemp? Bamboo? Here is a rundown of advantages and challenges of some of the most common types of flats. Keep in mind that there are other options if you are frugal in budget or spirit. Practically anything that can absorb moisture, from t-shirts to receiving blankets, can be turned into a flat! These are based on my personal experiences with fully prepped flats over the last six months. I do not list specific size because, depending on the brand and your wash routine, your flat may vary from mine.

Flour Sack Towels (FST)
A popular choice among those on a budget, cotton flour sack towels are readily available (check your local store’s kitchen section). For about $1 per flat, you can quickly build a sizeable stash without much dent in your wallet. The thinnest and trimmest I have, FST are the only flats I have that remain exactly square after washing.

On the down side, I sometimes have to reshape my FST into a square as they “slant” if I put them in the dryer (generally unnecessary as they dry so fast!). They are very thin and not as absorbent as the other options in my experience. Before prep and after, they were one of the smaller flats I tried, so if you are looking to diaper an older or larger child these might become snug more quickly than other options.

Other Cotton/Birdseye
Cotton flats also are very affordable. For $1 to $3 per flat, these are thicker cotton than flour sack towels and available in bleached and unbleached options. They absorb more than the FST in our experience. They are also quite consistent with keeping their shape as opposed to FST and hemp.

My cotton flats do not measure quite square, but they are a great size for most of a child’s diaper life—not too big, not too small. These are great go-to flats if you are looking for a quality, not-too-thin product that will last a long time. There really aren’t any challenges to cotton flats in my opinion, but there are two that I prefer even more!

Likely my favorite of all the options listed, hemp flats have a little bit of everything! They are most often combined with cotton and have a fantastic jersey stretch unlike any of the other options. I love that I can customize the fit snuggly on my babe while knowing the stretch will provide comfort. Hemp absorbs more than cotton, so these are a great option for a heavier wetter.

The perk of stretching to the perfect fit comes with the downside of stretching the cloth out. Hemp flats that are the least square of all our flats. After many, MANY uses, mine are turning into slightly oblong squares. You can easily overcome this by folding one edge to create the square shape, but I like best when everything is “just right.” Ringing in at $6 to $8 per flat, hemp is also the most expensive option.

By far the softest, bamboo flats are usually a combination of cotton and bamboo. I find the size of these to be just right for both my infant and toddler. They have a little stretch to them though not nearly as much as the hemp flat. And did I mention they are soft?!

Bamboo flats are also on the pricier side, coming in at $4 to $6 each. Both brands of bamboo flats I purchased shrunk slightly more than the packaging suggested. Although a natural fiber, the high amount of processing that bamboo requires can make these less environmentally friendly than some hemp and cotton options.

Bio: Lynette is currently a SAHM to two sons, ages 2 and 7 months. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly. You can find her discussing living a mindful life at

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1 comment:

Bamboo cotton Towels said...

All the bamboo fabric is natural textile made up from the pulp of the bamboo grass. If you talking about its sustainability then its comparatively high than other. Bamboo towel has one of the best quality that it highly water absorbent and its 4 times better than normal cotton.