Innovative Textiles: What is Zorb?
Updated: May 31
When you have decided to go for cloth diapers or reusable menstrual products, you often find that that are lots of materials to choose from. You could go for natural materials like cotton, bamboo, or hemp for your diapers/menstrual products or choose something synthetic like microfiber or bamboo charcoal. There is also Zorb which is a lot less common and a lot less known. Let's take a closer look at this material to find out what Zorb is, who made it, and how to work Zorb.
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Who makes Zorb?
Zorb is produced by Wazoodle in the US or Canada. The company was founded by a family of textile engineers who migrated to the US in 2005. After a couple of years of settling in the US, they decided to go into textile manufacturing again. After starting their company they bought a struggling Canadian textile company Wazoodle. The products and values of Wazoodle were close to their hearts and they continued with their products. Nowadays Wazoodle stands for family, quality, and great service while taking care of mother earth. They are known for their absorbent and organic fabrics like Zorb.
What is Zorb?
Because Zorb is created by textile engineers, they looked a bit further into the fabrics. They want an eco-friendly produced material but this also has been as functional as possible. Where 100% hemp or bamboo are also eco-friendly fabrics with great absorbency, Wazoodle wanted something better. Something that absorbs much quicker and dries much faster while also being as thin as possible. So they gave themselves quite the changes but the resulting fabric is amazing.
Zorb can soak up 20 times faster than other materials. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and (especially) hemp are relatively slow absorbers of moisture which is not a problem for clothing. However, we are using the fabric for a different purpose, cloth diapers. When a baby pees it is often lots of moisture in a relatively short time. So you need a fabric within your cloth diaper that absorbs this moisture fast enough. Zorb does this incredibly well. It can hold up to 10 times its weight in moisture in under 2 seconds making this material great for larger babies who pee more and more at once.
So, Zorb is an extremely fast-absorbing material that can hold on to a lot of moisture.
What is Zorb made from?
What exactly is Zorb made from? The exact recipe of the material is company secret (otherwise anyone could make it). Zorb is made from non-allergic, durable, and easy to sanitize materials. It is fibers from a mix of bamboo, cotton, viscose, and poly microfiber. All fiber can be naturally found in lots of cloth diapers.
What makes it so super absorbent is that they have made this fiber into incredibly thin fibers (it the eye it looks like cotton candy, a lot of extremely thin threads). These fibers have an average of 0,012-millimeter diameter. So this yarn is about 10 times thinner than a human hair. The benefit of this is that it can absorb lots of moisture because each of these threads can absorb moisture. Not only that, it can do this extremely fast as well and it can release this moisture very fast as well. This means that Zorb also dries very fast.
Zorb fibers can not be used on their own but it needs to be sandwiched between 2 layers of fabric that together make up Zorb fabric.
Types of Zorb
Since the first manufacturing of Zorb, it has made lots of changes and developments. Zorb fabric now comes in several variations including Original, Zorb 2, Zorb 3D, Zorb 4D, and Zorb Microfiber Terry.
The original Zorb material is non-woven that has to be sandwiched between other fabrics to make it work for you.
Zorb 2nd Gen
The second generation of Zorb comes in two versions (Dimple and Diamond) that are already sandwiched between other fabrics. This is usually bamboo, cotton, or a mixture of both. This fabric needs to be pre-washed as it tends to shrink a lot.
3D Zorb has an improved design and absorption compared to the second generation. This version is already sandwiched between other fabrics. This is usually bamboo, cotton, or a mixture of both. It is also the first version that comes in more than just plain white. Pre-washing is needed before sewing.
4D Zorb is the newest (at the time of writing) type of Zorb. It has a unique four-dimensional fabric that is super-absorbent and also waterproof meaning it can be used on its own. It comes in a great variety of colors. This material is pre-washed by the manufacturer.
Zorb Microfiber Terry
Zorb microfiber Terry is 100% poly microfiber that has been produced for super-absorption. This fabric is extremely sensitive to fraying and requires a pre-wash as it tends to shrink.
Wazoodle is a growing and developing company that keeps creating new and more absorbent materials. However, as long as there is demand for the older version of Zorb as well they will continue to produce those as well.
Does Zorb have compression leaks?
Materials that have been saturated with moisture tend to leak when you put pressure on them. This is called compression leaking. Compared to other materials, Zorb tends to have less compression leaks compared to other fabrics. Especially 3D Zorb as it is engineered to prevent compression leaks. Together with Bummis, a cloth diaper/reusable sanitary pad company (unfortunately they are no longer in business), this was tested and optimized for over two years with actual users of the products. This way the engineers could develop and improve their materials into the 3D Zorb we know today.
Is Zorb natural?
Poly-microfiber (or polyester microfiber) is part of the fibers of Zorb. Microfiber can be made into an extremely thin synthetic fiber made from all possible combinations of natural and synthetic yarn. The natural yarn in this case is cotton and bamboo while the synthetic yarn is polyester. Polyester is also not a natural material as it is made from petroleum. A fossil fuel. So is Zorb natural? No, but the largest part of Zorb is natural while a small part is synthetic.
Is Zorb worth it?
I would say yes. It is great for heavy wetters as extra absorbent material but I also use them in the cloth diapers for my newborn. This is because the material is extremely thin while still very absorbent. This reduces the bulkiness, which cloth diapers tend to suffer from, especially around a small baby.
Where to buy Zorb?
Zorb is sold in lots of places but it can be more challenging to get your hands on when you don’t live in the US or Canada. So, if you live in North America you can purchase directly from their site and have the benefits of their service and reasonable shipping price.
If you are like me and don’t live in the US your options are limited. I have found several smaller resellers in Europe that sell Zorb from their Etsy shop. The price is higher compared to Wazoodles website but the shipping is much lower.
How to wash Zorb?
When you first receive your Zorb fabrics or products, you will need to wash them as you don’t know what might have happened to them during shipment. You don’t know who might have touched them or where they might have stayed for a while in transit.
Also when you want to sew with Zorb fabric, washing is needed as it tends to shrink. You don’t want your sewing projects to shrink after you have made them. So please pre-wash all material before you start your sewing project.
Soiled Zorb material can be washed like you normally would for cloth diapers or sanitary pads. They don’t need special treatment. Don’t use fabric softener of your Zorb fabric (or any other fabric that you want to use for absorbency) because this creates a layer on the fabric that reduced the absorbency of the material.
I don’t recommend putting Zorb in the drier (even though Wazoodle says it is ok) as a drier is not very eco-friendly and deteriorates fabric faster.
How to work with Zorb?
If you want to sew with Zorb I recommend using 3D Zorb. This is the easiest to work with and great for both cloth diaper inserts as well as reusable sanitary pads. You will need to use a sewing machine with a good lock stitch or a serger so you properly serge the edges of your fabric and the absorbent Zorb core remains in place.