Difference Between Woven & Nonwoven Diapers

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You might have noticed, when buying adult diapers or really, any diaper, the retailer or manufacturer would mention “nonwoven”. Well, what is the difference between a woven and nonwoven diaper? What does this mean and why is it important?

What is a Nonwoven Diaper

A nonwoven diaper (also referred to as “nonwovens”) simply means the inner material that touches skin is gauze-like and isn’t woven like traditional cloth. This is so liquids can quickly flow through it and get to the absorbent layer of the diaper. This leaves the nonwoven layer dry and cleaner, and hence, more comfortable against sensitive skin.

Most, if not all disposable diapers are nonwoven these days. After all, who would want wet, sticky diapers as an option.

What is the Nonwoven Layer Made of

The nonwoven layer is made up of fine synthetic fibers intertwined to form a fabric.  One of the main materials for these synthetic fibers used in disposable diapers comes from polypropylene. The fabrics used in the nonwoven layer perform in unique ways that differentiate them from regular fabrics, paper, or films.

You’ll find this nonwoven layer in disposable diapers because the material is great at absorbing water. They are very soft  and comfortable against skin. Liquids easily pass through the nonwoven layer and is absorbed by the absorbent material within. 

The non woven offers little resistance so liquids pass through quickly, ensuring that the surfaces touching the skin always remain dry. Modern manufacturing techniques makes it possible for the non woven layer to have a smoother feel.

Most nonwovens now have built in elasticity. This adds stretchability to an already great fabric. Now the inner layer of diapers can be dry, smooth, and also stretchable for extra comfort. The built in elasticity allows for a more snug fit.

Mitsui Chemicals, a Japan based company manufactures these non woven layers and supplies it to most popular adult diaper brands across the world.

See the list: W’e’ve curated the best adult diapers.

What is a Woven Diaper?

A woven diaper is probably not the right way to explain it. It isn’t a direct opposite of a “nonwoven”. A woven diaper however could be a cloth diaper. Or a diaper that uses fabric that features a tighter knit. The fabric does not allow for liquids to pass through, it is more of an absorbent layer in itself.

Cloth diapers are a good example of a “woven” diaper. While some wovens might be great with absorbency, and the allure of reusing is noble, it does mean that they have to be changed more frequently as the absorbent layer will be touching the skin.

This isn’t ideal for overnight use or for periods where you know you can’t change frequently.

Also, woven or cloth diapers aren’t as comfortable. Being that they are woven, they surface could be bumpy or coarse. Period of long usage could cause skin irritation. For elderly or babies with less mobility, this might not be the most ideal solution.

See How Diapers are Made.

While this video is about how baby diapers are made, the process is quite similar to adult diapers as well.

Recommended Nonwoven & Woven Adult Diapers

Abena Abri-Form Premium Incontinence Briefs

774 Ratings

Abena Abri-Form JUNIOR Premium Incontinence Briefs

This adult diaper is great because of two main reasons. It is one of the most breathable and light diapers without compromising on absorbency. This diaper also comes in three absorbency levels and you can choose from level 1 – level 3.

The Abena Abri-Form comes in various unit counts. The more you buy, the more you save. Prices may vary as retailers are constantly adjusting cost but if you buy the 256 pack, you end up paying less than a dollar per diaper.

Cost per diaper
$0.75 - $1.10
Waist Size
16" - 24"
Up to 51 fl. oz.

Prevail Bariatric Brief with Tabs Ultimate Absorbency

391 Ratings

Prevail Bariatric Brief

This Prevail bariatric brief is designed for the ultimate leakage protection. This means if you are looking for a comfortable diaper that will work well with heavy overnight discharge, this is a great option.

Stretchable side panels means it is great for sleeping as it stretches and contracts to sleeping positions.

This adult diaper is also very breathable. All features pointing to a comfortable, absorbent overnight diaper.

Cost per diaper
$1.00 - $3.38
Waist Size
62" - 100"

Tranquility ATN Adult Disposable Briefs

284 Ratings

Tranquility ATN Adult Disposable Briefs

This diaper makes the list because of its cost and features. The Tranquility overnight adult diaper offers overnight protection for both, bladder and bowel incontinence.

It also features tabs on the side that can be refastened. This means as the night wears on and you need to readjust this diaper, simply peel and stick it back on.
Cost per diaper
Waist size
18" - 64"
Up to 34 fl. oz.

Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers

14,344 Ratings

Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diaper

This is a 100% made from cotton cloth diaper. It is made from fabric that is quick-drying and lightweight.

It is washable and reusable and can also be used as a burp cloth or for other cases where you might need a really absorbent cloth.
Cost per diaper
Waist size
14" x 20"
Washable & Reusable

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