Absorbent fabrics naturally attract water and are able to move the water into both the spaces between the fabric fibres and inside the fabric fibres themselves. Cotton, hemp and bamboo are particularly effective at doing this.
These fabrics are particularly useful on their own for projects such as towelling or tea towels, but when paired with other fabrics can be used in other ways. For example, a waterproof backing may be used for a bath mat to absorb water while protecting the floor. Or, fleece can be used to wick liquid away from the skin towards the absorbent fabric below in projects such as cloth nappies or reusable sanitary or continence protection. In these cases, the absorbent fabric is often sandwiched between fleece on top and a waterproof fabric such as polyurethane laminate (PUL) below to hold any liquid in the centre.