cloth diapering series: the magic of wool

Wool? For a diaper cover? What?!

I know! I was skeptical, too! But I tried it a little over a year ago, and we’ve been hooked ever since. Let me tell you why.
Temperature expert: Wool keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Breathable fibers make for smoother baby bottoms. A lot of families dealing with skin issues make the switch to wool because their babies stay rash-free. PUL and other synthetic materials can put a greenhouse effect on a baby butt in the hot summer weather! We’ve used wool all summer without issue. Sounds crazy, I know… but it’s true.
Absorbency: Wool is made to soak it up. All of it. It can hold somewhere around 30% of its own weight before it begins to leak through. The cover might eventually feel “sweaty” but it doesn’t drip or transfer wetness to anything else. The other day, I left two pieces of wool in a sink half-way filled with warm water for about an hour, after I’d washed it. When I came back to wring it out, the sink was empty. The two pairs of longies had absorbed all of the water. Magic, I tell you.
Ease of use: Wool never stinks. Urine goes through a salinization process when absorbed by wool. Everything virtually turns to salt water and evaporates off of the cover. Our wool always smells like the wash we use, which is delicious. The same cover can be used over and over. I only wash my wool once a month or so. It stretches to fit bigger babies and shrinks back to fit smaller ones. Also, it can complete a baby’s outfit – they only need a shirt & a sweet headband!
When you talk wool types & blends, it can get confusing. There’s a lot out there! But basically, there are two main types of wool – interlock & knitted. Interlock is stretchy and comes in a fabric that doesn’t look like wool. A very popular brand out there is Sustainable Babyish/Sloomb. We only have one piece of wool like this, but I’ve never had anything leak through it – we own these karate pants. Knitted refers to the sweater-looking stuff, which is what we typically use. Different blends of wool make for different textures and degrees of softness. So far, nothing we’ve bought has been scratchy or uncomfortable. Wool can be very expensive, due to both the materials and the labor involved. I buy all of mine used, though, so it’s not too bad for us.
As far as fit goes, we prefer longies (pants). Soakers (which look like a regular diaper cover) tend to stretch out around the legs and it’s hard to get a good fit when going back and forth between three babies. Shorties and skirties (which look exactly like they sound) are fun, but longies get the job done year-round, and are simply too dang cute!
Washing: Like I said, I only wash my wool once a month or so. I try not to do it all at one time, though. Wool takes a long time to dry (because it’s so absorbent), and I don’t want to have my entire stash out of commission for days on end. So when I need to wash a pair of longies, I throw them in a sink filled with warm water. I run a few drops of this wool wash under the faucet, and I swirl the wool around in it to make sure it gets completely soaked. One time, I walked by minutes after dropping wool in the sink, and it was floating dry at the top of the water line. How many times can I type the word absorbent in this post? There’s a wool setting on my washing machine, but I’m sorta scared to try it. Once in awhile, I add some lanolin (the kind breastfeeding moms use) to the water and rub it in the crotch of the longies, to waterproof it. But my wash has lanolin in it, which makes it easy to clean my wool and keep it waterproof!
I think that about covers it! How about you? Have you tried wool? If not, you’re missing out!

10 thoughts on “cloth diapering series: the magic of wool”

  1. Hey Rachel! Just wondering where you found your used wool longies. I have been searching and haven’t had much luck. My baby girl wakes up soaking every morning, so I’m hoping some wool will help.

  2. Love wool, but I only discovered the love for it a few weeks before Chloe potty learned :( :(

    Now I knit, so I can make other mamas some longies/woolies <3 and pray that one day I'll get to have a new little one to knit longies for.

  3. I’m glad you cleared that up, I kept thinking… Rachael is burning those poor babies up…Cause I have hot flashes and everthing burns me up…and thats what I thought about wool. New lesson learned. Thanks for the info, I can pass it to some other grannys.

  4. we cloth diaper and i have been curious about wool. this post has me excited to try it, but what about poopy diapers? we inevitably end up with some on our covers and you mention only washing occasionally. How do you keep the covers from getting too dirty??

  5. I stumbled across your blog through naptime diaries and to be honest, I don’t know how we don’t know each other. We have tons of mutual friends. ANYWAYS, I just wanted to tell you thank you. You have totally motivated me to start cloth diapering. I’m terrified, but we are starting as soon as I can get those jokers in the washing machine. My husband wanted to do them from day one, but it was me that was the problem. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  6. i only have one wool soaker and i’m currently knitting up another, but i’m hooked! i’m always bummed when it’s out of commission and i have to resort to the thirsties. i can tell she loves how the wool feels and as weird as it seems, it’s MUCH better in this insane colorado heat. yay wool!

  7. This is amazing. I just started c diapering and I’m sooo excited to get porter some of these pants! I had no idea!! Thanks for posting this :)

  8. Dorian – DiaperSwappers! I’ve never spent more than $25 or so on a pair! Good luck.

    kdpicou – Occasionally, poop slips through the legs of the diaper and gets on the wool. In that case, I wash it right away. But I would definitely say that’s the exception. We get a pretty decent fit with our prefolds & fitteds!

    Kristina – Yep! You put on the prefold or the fitted diaper, and instead of a PUL cover (Thirsties, Bummis, etc), you pull on a pair of longies or whatever wool you choose!

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