Breathable, stretchable, waterproof fabric is necessary for many different applications, from diaper covers for parents who use cloth diapers, to hospital needs. Unfortunately, most vinyl fabrics are uncomfortable and do not breathe well. PUL fabric is a suitable alternative, and was originally developed of the hospital industry. Now it's used by home diaper makers and in many other industries.
PUL fabric is also known as polyurethane laminated fabric. The base material may be a polyester knit, a cotton-polyester blend or a 100 percent cotton woven fabric. After weaving, the material is bonded to a one or two millimeter thick piece of polyurethane plastic, which sinks into the weave, creating a relatively flexible and breathable water-resistant fabric.
Polyurethane laminate fabric allows many disposable products to be replaced by reusable ones. The fabric can survive high-heat washing and drying, and can also be autoclaved, or steam-sterilized. The material is soft and flexible, making it appropriate for use next to the skin. PUL fabric has a high durability, even when the polyurethane laminate layer is very thin.
According to Glossary.com, PUL fabric is primarily used to make fluid barriers and hospital curtains, but has also been adopted by small-scale diaper producers. Home sewers use this fabric to produce diapers and diaper covers. It may also be used to produce waterproof lunch bags, wraps for food and bags intended to hold soiled rags. Cloth menstrual pads may also include PUL fabric.
PUL fabric's polyurethane content makes it non-biodegradable and difficult to recycle. Once the material wears out, it must be sent to the landfill. Many users consider the product's reusability and long lifespan to balance this problem, however, since PUL fabric products can replace disposable diapers and hospital supplies.
While most babies do not react to PUL fabric in diaper covers, some may develop rashes or other skin reactions. According to Nature Moms, the polyester film in PUL may also emit phytoestrogens as it ages, posing a potential health risk to babies. Polyethylene laminate fabric does not deteriorate in this way, and may be an alternative for parents concerned about polyester.
- Photo Credit draperies image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com
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