What is PUL?
Updated: Feb 28
We all know products that have a waterproof layer. This can be cloth diapers for the fluff butt moms among us but also reusable menstrual products often have a waterproof layer to prevent our clothes to get dirty. This waterproof layer is known as PUL. But what exactly is PUL and is it safe to use against delicate skin?
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What does PUL mean?
PUL is an abbreviation and it literally means polyurethane laminate. Polyurethane is an important type of polymer known for its wide variety of uses. Laminate means that this polyester is laminated onto a fabric.
How is it made?
PUL is a compound fabric made by fusing fabric with a thin film of polyurethane.
There are 2 methods for fusing fabrics with polyurethane:
Solvent lamination: In which polyurethane and fabric are fused together creating a single tread for waterproof yarn that can be used to create waterproof fabrics/products.
Hot melt: In this case, the layer of polyurethane fix to the fabric with heat-activated glue.
Polyester fabric is preferred over cotton fabric as cotton is very difficult to make completely waterproof. Waterproof cotton does exist but is more difficult to work with.
PUL can be easily printed either with a plain color or with a decorative print and will remain stretchy even with the laminated layer. This results in a soft, yet sturdy fabric that does not frail and will last for years.
What is it used for
Because PUL is both waterproof and breathable it can be used for a wide variety of uses.
It is used for outdoor gear to make equipment waterproof yet still comfortable to wear.
PUL is also for products used in hospitals like mattress protectors, medical bedding, and mattress covers. Hospitals also like it because it can be sterilized.
Restaurants like it because it is easily wiped clean even with bleach or alcohol.
What is eco-PUL?
This type of PUL is similar to PUL with the only difference being that the polyurethane is made from renewable resources instead of petroleum. In this case, also eco-friendly glue to attach the polyurethane to the fabric. This results in a fabric that is completely safe for your health and also safe to use around your food.
PUL against skin
Some people assume that PUL can cause irritations when it is used close to the skin. This is not true because the layer of PUL is often on the inside of the products. It is also a solid that does not react with bodily waste. A chemical reaction with PUL can only occur at temperatures above 120°C (250°F) when PUL can melt. It is possible to have a skin reaction with the fabric that the polyurethane is laminated with which is often a polyester fabric. In this case contact eczema might occur in which the skin shows redness, swelling, itchiness, etc.
Pros and Cons of PUL
Advantages of PUL fabric
Small holes can be fixed with heat
Disadvantages of PUL fabric
If kept wet for extended periods it can disintegrate
It sticks to itself when damp
Doesn’t respond well to fabric softener
Dryer use will lessen the waterproof effects
Can melt when exposed to intense heat
The polyurethane can separate from the fabric
I hope this gave you a better insight into what PUL exactly is, whether or not it is something you would use and how it could benefit you.