Curious about wool?

Wool is a fantastic fibre that is both simple, accessible, and an affordable choice for diapering your child.  Unfortunately, a lot of the discourse around caring for wool over the past decade of modern cloth diapering has made wool feel difficult, finicky, and out of reach. But, the more we get to learn about wool from wool makers, manufacturers, and parents, the more we can understand there is so much simplicity and functionality in wool that makes it one of the best modern cloth diapers you can use. 

Why Wool & Cloth Diapers?

Wool is a renewable resource from the fleece of sheep. It is a biodegradable textile that naturally decomposes in soil (unless mixed with synthetic fibres). Wool’s unique texture and structure makes it an incredible insulator to keep us warm and cool, and to help absorb and release water vapour when needed.  Modern day wool has never been easier to care for with machine washable options available. Wool is an incredible fibre for its odour resistant and durability.  Source: Campaign for Wool

If you have a wool allergy… it’s likely an allergy to lanolin the natural oils in wool that aids in its water resistant nature. An alternative for those who are unable to use sheep wool or have lanolin allergy is Alpaca Wool, and you can source that at Lunapaca.

Fast Facts About Wool Diapering

  • Wool is a natural fibre.
  • Wool is naturally breathable.
  • Wool is absorbent (up to 30% of its own weight in moisture vapour).
  • Wool is easy to care for (once you get over the learn cost)
  • Wool is odour resistant.
  • Wool comes at all costs
  • Wool can be hand wash or machine washable. 

Two Ways to Use Wool for Cloth Diapers

Wool can be used as an absorbent material like in an insert or other diaper design, or it can be used as a cloth diaper cover.

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Wool as an Insert

Wool inserts are few and far between but are highly sought after because of their absorbency and natural fibre properties.

Many inserts are designed to be used in one of two ways:

  1. Next to baby’s skin as a stay dry layer (best for night use)
  2. Closest to the cover as an extra layer leak protection for the PUL (low-cost alternative to full size wool covers)

Wool as an insert is not lanolized. Wool inserts will stain (that’s okay). Wool inserts last longest with hand washing. Wool inserts can be air dried between uses (urine only). 

Wool inserts are great for babies with sensitives skin, heavy wetters, and those looking for a more natural-fibre based diapering solution.

Image Credit: Bumby Wool Insert

Where to find wool inserts for cloth diapers

Wool as a Cloth Diaper Cover

Wool as a cloth diaper cover is a more popular and well-known approach to using the diaper. This style is done in thicker covers that are worn as an item of clothing and thinner styles designed to fit under garments.

Wool covers come in many shapes and sizes, and I’ve included a fantastic video from Heidi at EC Peesy to share this with you.

Image Credit: Bumby Wool Diaper Cover

A few recommendations for wool diaper covers

Popular knit wool diapers from Disana Wool, Sloomb Wool, and Imagine Baby are often available at your favourite diapering retailer.

Things You Might Not Know About Wool Diapers

  • Wool covers are reused until dirty – they smell, they are soiled (poop), or other messes. Many messes, including dirt and yogurt will brush off or can be spot treated in the moment. For many parents, wool pants or wool covers are washed once every few weeks. They simply get air dryed between use until they no longer work.
  • Wool covers are lanolized to provide a water-resistant diaper cover. Lanolin is the natural waterproofing of wool, and it does break down with use and needs to be replaced through the process of lanolizing. This is a simple process that you can do. Lanolizing happens less frequently than washing.
  • Wool covers can sometimes be machine washed, but handwashing will provide longevity. There are machine wash interlock wool covers, but machine washing is tough on fibres. Handwashing is a very simple process that requires very little labour.
  • Wool is not itchy. If you’ve experienced itchy wool, you haven’t experienced wool. Itchy is usually because of synthetic blends. But 100% wool is not itchy. We wouldn’t be using it if it was itchy.

Types wool cloth diapers 

There are a few different types of wool on the market. In the cloth diaper space, you’ll find: Knit wool and interlock wool. There are likely many other types, and most wool will be sold as 100% wool or with a small percentage of spandex for improved stretch and fit.

  • Knit wool is commonly available in the affordable options like Imagine Baby Wool Diaper Covers. This style of wool is hand-wash only, features a larger knit, and is often 1-2 layers. Knit wools may felt overtime in areas that experience a lot of friction or if tossed in the washing machine.  Not all knits are the same and depending on the quality and style they may vary.
  • Interlock wool is a felted style of wool. This means you wont see the stitches of the wool threads, but rather a more smooth surface. This is an easier to care for textile that is less likely to get pulls.

How to Wash Wool Diaper Covers?

For a quick & simple guide to washing wool cloth diapers, inspired by the strategies learnt by Stephanie at Bumby Wool, check out this free downloadable guide. It walks you through the basics and is updated to reflect the best practices fo 2022. But, all wool makers have their own strategies and it can be best to consult with your maker and manufacture for techniques recommended by them for their products.


FAQ About Wool Cloth Diapers

We talk about wool as this big scary alternative diapering solution, but wool is an incredibly simple and versatile way to diaper your baby.

HOW DOES WOOL WORK?

Wool works because of magic.

Okay, that’s the smarty pants answer, but this natural fibre works to absorb liquid and keep inside the diaper. The unique make up of it’s fibres mixed with lanolin give it that must-have, always winning success.  


WHAT IS FELTING?

Felting is when the fibres of a knit wool begin to interlock and mingle together – I think it reminds me of matting hair. It reduces stretch and causes thick patches that look like felt from the store.

Felting is generally not good, but it can improve wools performance and use. Felted wool tends to be smaller than originally purchased. It can continue to be loved and used until it can longer be used.

CAN I REVERSE FELTING?

Sometimes. If you find yourself with a pair of woollies that have gone through the washing machine, you might be able to give them a cold bath with conditioner, or wool conditioner from Unicorn Baby, to loosen the fibres and stretch back to their original shape. Again, similar process to dematting hair.


HOW CAN I REMOVE STAINS FROM WOOL CLOTH DIAPERS OR WOOL PANTS?

Spot treatment of stains, along with a thorough soak during the wash cycle will kick most stains to the cub. But, sometimes stains will linger and be difficult to clean. 

You can try laying wool in the sun like any other textile to reduce staining.

Stain sticks, like the Buncha Farmers Stain stick, can be a great addition to removing stains. Be sure to rub gently in the area to remove the stain without causing too much friction that the fibres felt (knit wools).

Power Scour from Unicorn Baby is another fantastic option.


WHAT TYPE OF WOOL WORKS BEST?

The one that you can afford and fits your baby.

I’ve tried many different styles of wool diaper covers and I think they all have a great purpose and function to any stash.

My favourite is interlock wool… or wool pants. I like a full-length pant in the winter and shorts in the summer. Pair with a shirt and you’ve got a great pj set up.


CAN I SWADDLE A BABY IN WOOL DIAPER COVER?

Wrapping baby up in cotton pj’s or cotton swaddle can causing wicking to the exterior cotton layer. This is most likely to happen if the clothing or swaddle is very close and tight to baby. If it is loose around the bottom, it is less likely to be a concern.

Swaddlling might not be ideal for wool cloth diaper covers, but you could also consider wool swaddles, fleece swaddles, or taking a hybrid approach with a PUL Cover, wool cover, and then swaddle – then the purpose of the wool is to reduce leaking, but not to entirely be the water-resistant layer.


DO I NEED TO SANITIZE PRE-LOVED WOOL?

The general consensus is no. You may want to wash and re-lanolize.


CAN I BLEACH WOOL CLOTH DIAPERS?

No. 


WHY IS WOOL USED FOR NIGHT DIAPERS

Because wool is one of those easy to fix answers to a problem. If you have any leaky diaper, washable or disposable, you can pull on a pair of wool pants and there’s an 80% chance of a dryer morning. 

Wool is absorbent in it’s own right so it reduces bulk of traditional diapering set ups and offers an easy on and off solution that doesn’t leave marks and is always comfortable.


CAN I USE WOOL DURING THE DAY?

Yes. Wool is more than just a night time solution. It’s an all day cloth diapering too


CAN I USE WOOL WITH PUL COVERS?

Wool is a fantastic choice to use with PUL diapers that are being to leak or have wear spots. It can help give you another layer of protection to a diapering system that already works with your family or child.


YIKES! I GOT A PULL IN MY KNIT WOOL COVER. 

Simply pull the pull to the inside or tuck it in. That sounded easier than it is, but you can grab a needle or crochet hook and pull it into the inside of the cover.

You can also patch thinning wool or spots. There’s lots of tutorials, but it’s also a simple diy process you cna make up on the go.


 Like most things’ cloth diaper… you are probably overthinking it.