Rubber pants vs. plastic pants

Updated February 21, 2017

Before disposable nappies, babies and the incontinent used cloth nappies and plastic or rubber pants. Plastic and rubber pants are available in an array of styles to meet the needs of babies, the elderly and everyone in between.

Function of plastic and rubber pants

Rubber and plastic pants exist to serve the same function: protect the wearer from diaper leaks resulting in odour and wet clothing. Both come in similar styles for the same purpose.


Rubber pants are made of natural rubber, allowing for airflow. Plastic pants are made from polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride, both man-made materials.


Plastic pants tend to crack when dried in the dryer. Rubber pants are softer to the skin. Both pants come in various styles, including slip on or closures with Velcro, plastic or metal snaps.

Considerations when purchasing

Rubber and plastic pants sizes vary by manufacturer. Some are designed to be worn over a specific brand of cloth nappies. Both provide waterproofing.


Wearing rubber and plastic pants over cloth diapers or disposable liners is more economical than using disposable nappies. Disposable nappies, though convenient, are expensive and consume more natural resources and landfill space. Rubber and plastic pants can be used repeatedly.

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About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.