If you’re a cloth diapering parent chances are good you’ve heard at least one person say that their wool soaker is the only thing that gets them through the night. If so, you may have wondered how? How does a soft absorbent fabric in anyway act as an effective diaper cover? While wool might be the exact opposite of the plastic pants most people think of when they hear the words cloth diaper, these differences are exactly what makes wool work and what makes wool better!
How wool works:
* Wool does naturally repel water; after all it is a mainstay in outerwear the world over. A combination of the way the fibers overlap and the presence of Lanolin (a natural oil found in wool and added by you through a process called “lanolizing”) creates an extremely water resistant barrier.
* Wool breathes. Since it allows airflow the cover is not trapping moisture in next to babies skin. This does wonders to regulate the temperature inside the diaper and to reduce rashes.
* Wool is super absorbent. Wool can hold up to 30% of it’s own weight without feeling wet. This means after the absorbent layer of diaper has done its part; the wool cover will lend a hand. Let’s see PUL do that!
* Because the wool breathes, the moisture that is absorbed into the cover is allowed to evaporate. This process leaves clothing and bedding dry but reduces the amount of absorbency required from your diaper.
But doesn’t wool need to be handwashed?
Yes, it’s true you do have to hand wash wool, but, here is something you may not know:
Wool is naturally antimicrobial! This means wool kills off bacteria and fungus that try to live in it and as a result does not require washing after every use. Wool must be allowed to dry between uses, but only requires washing every 1-3 weeks usually when you notice the dry cover is retaining odor or when soiled. Washing wool also isn’t the challenge you might envision. While there are some definite wool no-nos the processes of washing and lanolizing wool are both seriously uncomplicated!
Okay, so what are the options for cloth diapering with wool?
If there is anything complicated about wool, it is the seriously huge array of options you have when choosing your cover. The first option you’ll have is what type of wool your cover should be made from. Here there are a number of options: Knit woolens are knit or crocheted from yarn into it’s cover form, Interlock woolens are made new wool material sold by yards and sewn into cover form, Upcycled woolens are made from used wool, repurposed and sewn into cover form, and Hybrid woolens are a combination of two or more systems (commonly interlock and upcycled.)
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, another option you’ll have to make is what form your cover will take. While wool can be just a simple snap-on or pull-on soaker closely resembling other diaper cover options, wool can also double as outerwear.
One of the best-loved aspects of wool covers is that they can replace a whole step in the layering process – they can replace pants! Or shorts, or skirts for that matter too!!! These covers (referred to as longies, shorties or skirties,) are clothing made out of wool that double as two layers in one. They are fun, cute, cozy and, best of all, functional!
Rachel Toporowski is the owner of Transient Upcycled Woolens www.dreadknots.etsy.com. She adores dressing babies – including her happy, handsome two year old, in beautiful upcycled woolens. She does in home consultations and paired with www.diapersupply.ca runs “Why Wool” cloth diapering workshops in the Edmonton area. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to visit her on facebook www.facebook.com/woolens