Zorb – love it or hate it?

Zorb(TM) is one of Wazoodle’s DiaperMaker fabrics.  According to the manufacturer, “Zorb absorbs 10x its weight in less than half a second — that’s 20x faster than cotton, bamboo or hemp. Zorb has incredible holding power too, a single layer holds up to 3 times the moisture of the best absorbing knits”.  How could that not make you want to try this new fabric?

The popularity of Zorb has been on the rise.  A lot of cloth diapering moms think it’s a solution to their night-time cloth diapering problems.  Some think it’s miracle cloth… at least until they try it.

As a lot of you know, I make Zorb doublers.  The doublers are actually made of two layers of OekoTex certified bamboo fleece and one layer of Zorb.  I think a lot of people forget about the bamboo fleece part of the doubler.  They forget that bamboo fleece itself is very absorbent (after several washes of course), that Zorb alone does not do all the hard work.

Zorb(TM) and Bamboo Fleece Doubler

Zorb(TM) and Bamboo Fleece Doubler

Here are some pros and cons of using Zorb that I’ve experienced:

PROS:

  • Quite absorbent
  • Does not retain odours
  • More cushy than bamboo fleece by itself
  • Cheaper than bamboo, hemp and organic cotton.

CONS:

  • I hate sewing with it.  I find that I’m spending more time serging Zorb doublers than bamboo fleece only doublers.  I also tend to make more mistakes when sewing with Zorb than without.
  • I find the absorbency of one layer to be comparable to that of two layers of the thinner bamboo fleece.  Note that 1 layer of Zorb is approximately as thick as 2 layers of my thinner bamboo fleece.
  • It’s not made of natural fibres only.  Might not bother most cloth diapering people out there, but it does bother me a little.  If you looked at my diaper stash, you’d see that most of my diapers are made of natural fibres only.

So, what do you think about Zorb?  What has been your experience with it?

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  • Anna Marsh

    Hi Nessie, I am a stay at home mom who was searching for Zorb material online and found your blog. I purchased a pattern for AIO cloth diapers and it calls for a sewn in soaker made of Zorb. The diaper seems to me like it is made primarily of synthetic materials and I am a more natural person. Do you really think that the other fabrics work better, and is Zorb really difficult to sew with? I have some of those Sham-Wow towels, and this looks like the same fabric, but I was not very impressed with those towels. Could you please email me and let me know what you think about this new miracle fabric? Blessings, Anna

  • Gretchen

    Hi,
    … I have been making AIO diapers with zorb for the past several months…and I have to admit…I’m not that impressed.
    I have all sorts of fabrics that I have been experimenting with, and zorb seems to absorb the least..it might take on a bunch immediately, but it doesn’t “hold” it very well.
    Microfiber outdoes zorb by a long shot, but I hate microfiber for the stink. I’m thinking of leaning away from zorb, upping my price a bit…and just sticking with bamboo.
    Dry time is not as important when your diapers are actually working!! I just can’t figure out how they can make those claims when it is very obviously not true…1 layer of zorb is NOT equivalent to 3 layers of microfiber… 2 layers of zorb is not even as good as a three layered terry cloth insert!

    But, I wonder if I’m alone…it seems hard to come by “negative” zorb reviews.

  • Nessie

    Hi Gretchen,
    Thank you for your comment! I think I’m even less impressed with Zorb now than when I wrote that post. Recently, my daughter has become a SUPER heavy wetter and I’ve been using more bamboo fleece doublers than Zorb and bamboo fleece ones. I think a lot of people who really like Zorb diapers or doublers are usually those who don’t have very heavy wetters and/or those who hate long drying times.
    As for microfiber, I’ve hated it since my daughter was tiny (she’s 2 now). I never liked the feel of it and it never held urine well when soaked. I’ve recently read some scary things about polyester (please see the post titled, “Polyester – Safe or Not?”) which made me glad I stopped using it early on.
    Good luck with your diaper making!

  • Missy

    Hi there! I purchased some Zorb a few weeks ago and made some AIOs and a few doublers with it. I do NOT like the Zorb for AIOs. It absorbs quickly, but as the previous poster said, it does not hold the liquid. It’s rather like a sponge and the liquid travels through the matrix in the direction that gravity pulls. Every single time I’ve used one of my AIOs on DS for naps/night he leaks out. During the day he’s fine because he’s all over the place and gravity doesn’t pull in any one direction for too long =).

    It seems to perform better for the doublers. They are top layer microfleece (for stay-dry), middle layer Zorb, bottom layer 100% cotton flannel. I use them mainly with bamboo fitteds and when I pull them apart most of the moisture is in the bamboo insert, not the doubler.

    Yes, it is relatively cheap and I will use up what I have to make more doublers, but I will not be ordering this again.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi
    I use Zorb and like it. I also use an inner layer of Jersey and a layer of flannel behind it. It seems to work well for daytime use. It does absorb a lot, but needs to be changed often. I don’t like fleece as an inner layer tho as it retains odor. I don’t think it’s meant for stand alone but I think it works well in conjunction with other fabrics.

  • http://mamarama.me Janette

    Thank you! I haven’t used Zorb yet, but I was just about to buy some Zorb material for my attempt to make training pants. I’m glad I saw your review first. I’d hate to have my first attempt at making training pants go wrong and think it was just me.

  • Nessie

    Janette, I’m glad you found this helpful!

    If you could get your hands on a small piece of Zorb, then I would go ahead and give it a try. You never know, you might be one of the many people who do love Zorb. I definitely do not recommend purchasing many yards of it the first time you buy it.

    Good luck!

  • Stephanie

    I wish I had been smart and done my research before I ordered so much of it!! I was in a hurry to make some Al-in-ones for my new nephew and when I came across zorb it sounded awesome, almost too good to be true!.. and it turned out that it was too good to be true! I don’t know where they come up with their claims! Especially the “holding power” part where they claim it “holds up to 3 times the moisture of the best absorbing knits”!! I think Missy explains it well to describe it like a sponge, only that I would add that like a sponge it also relaeses water quickly when compressed! and at night time when there is gravity and compression working together it’s no wonder my poor 2 month old nephew was soaked up his back in his own pee after only a few hours! Ofcourse I had to try zorb the first time I tried my first all in one! it took me a while to figure out why it wasn’t working! I think zorb can work fine for daytime use, but if your looking for a “magic” fabric to solve all your nighttime absorbancy needs, don’t expect this to be the one!

  • Julie

    Thank you so much everyone for all your comments! I sincerely empathise with all people that bought too much zorb. The claims by Wazoodle really are enticing. They may have listened, however, as they now have Zorb II, which is zorb encased in two additional layers of fabric. It would be great to read some reviews of it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/KCK-One-by-Nicole/128635057203112?created Nicole

    I just purchased 10 yds of the dimpled zorbII. I’ve only used it once in a 3 layer and 4 layer version. (convertible towels for OS Pockets) I’m so afraid of leaks, I’m just not sure. I’m think maybe as the top layer or two of an insert with a microfiber terry or bamboo fleece backer. I think the issue is that it absorbs quickly and alot, but any pressure on the soaked fabric, it wants to wring out/ press out. I think it may have it’s applications of use, but we need to find the balance of it. Zorb in any form, by it self is just not it.

  • Leila

    I use Zorb in all my inserts. My inserts include Organic Cotton, 1 layer of Zorb & 2 more layers of Organic Cotton. I’ve never had a problem with leaking with all three of my kids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/northpolebaby Nicole

    I have had a while to “play around” with my ZorbII now. I think it is a great product! But again used on it’s own I have had nothing but issues with it. Here is the problem…. Zorb is a stiff fabric. It holds alot of liquid, BUT when placed in the crotch and the legs come together it wants to do this accordian type fold. Which leaves open PUL and diaper fabric exposed to the liquid. And unfortunately the liquid wants to escape through the path of least resistence (the leg holes.) Now we aren’t talking about a major leak but we are looking at wicking issues. I still feel that when combined with another cloth (to fill in that gab when the Zorb doesn’t want to lay flat) it is FANTASTIC!!!! I can run errands and not worry about changing 2 little ones while out. I can easily get 3 to 4 hours out of one diaper when I NEED to. It is also my FAVORITE secondary fabric for night times. :) I place it between my microfiber, and found it takes moisture from the front and wicks it to the back, which keeps leaks or wicking from popping up. It even works on my 2 1/2 year old who is a heavy wetter. I LOVE this fabric!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/northpolebaby Nicole

    A problem with zorbII is that even surged the cotton/bamboo facing doesn’t want to lay flat. Once washed it tends to have little strands that want to poke out all over… so although very functional, ZorbII is not the prettiest fabric in the world.

  • Mike

    Zorb is different than most faabrics and you need to understand a little about absorbency if you’re working with it.  Absorbency has 2 components, 1) Capture and 2) hold.  Most sewers are familiar with cellulose absorbers (cotton, bamboo, rayon, hemp) which hold lots but isn’t great at capturing.  As such they get used to adding extra material so the soaker can capture moisture until the fibers swell and hold that moisture. 

    Microfiber on the other hand is a great capture material, but since it doesn’t swell moisture in the fibers, it tends to squish out, so you need to add something else to aid in holding.

    Zorb is a hybrid, it captures like microfiber and has swelling cellulose fiber to hold.  It captures at 20x the speed of cellulose fibers and holds 2-3 times the moisture in the same area. 

    It’s important to understand that Zorb’s capture is 20x that of a layers of cellulose knit, it’s only 2-3 time  larger on hold.  This difference in capacities is important to note – you need to consider both when designing a soaker.

    Zorb also has a few other redeeming qualities.  It doesn’t mineralize or hold residues like cellulose fabrics so you never need to strip it.  It’s doesn’t hold microbes like hemp or microfiber so you never have to deal with interesting odors.  

    To put it into perspective, look at a 3 layer 15×5″ soakers made of 16oz Bamboo French Terry, 16oz MFT and Zorb. Lets look at Capture at 10 seconds, hold at 10 seconds (under 30lbs compression), hold at 1 minute when fully saturated.  You can try this yourself at home!  Cut 3 rectangles 15×5, stitch the ends together, weigh them  In your sink, dribble 150ml of water to the center of the soakers in 10 seconds, weigh again – each gram of additional weight is 1ml of moisture.  Next, roll the soaker in your hand and squeeze, tight – re-weigh.  Finally, let them soak for a minute, squeeze and weight again.  You’ll find it coes something like this:  

    Bamboo:
    Capture at 10 seconds: 21ml
    Hold at 10 seconds under 30lbs compression: 20ml
    Hold at 2 min, saturated, 30lbs compression: 55ml

    MFT:
    Capture at 10 seconds: 80ml
    Hold at 10 seconds under 30lbs compression: 46ml
    Hold at 2 min, saturated, 30lbs compression: 82ml

    Zorb:
    Capture at 10 seconds: 114ml
    Hold at 10 seconds under 30lbs compression: 68ml
    Hold at 2 min, saturated, 30lbs compression: 136ml

  • AudlyLuvly

    I have also heard people having great success, and loving this product when it is “sandwiched” in-between other absorbent fabrics.