A quick start guide to wool for cloth diapering
Curious about wool?
Thinking that maybe a wool cover will help you with nighttime diapers? Looking for a more natural cloth diaper? Wool is an incredible asset for cloth diaper families giving many families an easy-to-care for leak-free diapering experience.
Wool feels like an antiquated fibre that is too high maintenance for modern day living. But you couldn’t be more wrong.
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
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.
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:
- Next to baby’s skin as a stay dry layer (best for night use)
- 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.
Wool as a 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.
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.
Note about felting: I remember feeling super panicked that I would felt my wool and never be able to use it again. After a few years of using wool pants and wool in my nighttime routine, I can confidently say that felting wool during the wash process is very difficult and takes more friction than most of us will do. Now, if it gets tossed in the wash, that’s another story.
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.
Wool can also be your daytime routine.
You can use wool for all day cloth diapering.
It is most often referred to as a nighttime diaper
because it’s an easy solution for leaky heavy wetters.
Have you considered using Fleece?
Have you considered fleece as an alternative to wool cloth diapering? Maybe everything you’ve read about wool is giving you the anxieties, but you need an overnight cloth diaper that keeps baby dry – you should consider fleece as a leak free overnight cloth diaper solution
You want to find 100% polyester Fleece diaper covers, often called fleece soakers. Made with anti-pill fleece they can be used with prefold diapers, flat diapers, or fitted diapers.
- Fleece is a synthetic fibre
- Fleece wicks moisture and water-resistant.
- Fleece is a lower cost cloth diaper
- Fleece is breathable and seasonal
- Fleece offers softness and comfort.
Fleece as a Diaper Cover
Fleece covers are used once and then laundered. Unlike wool, once wet, fleece needs to be washed and dried before using again.
Fleece can be as simple as pj’s from Carters. Seriously, the lightweight fleece sleepers for babies can provide you with an extra layer of water resistance to keep baby warm and the bedsheet dry. There’s also this fantastic DIY Fleece cover.
Fleece Cloth Diaper Brands: Baby Koala, check Etsy for a local maker near you.
Sometimes referred to as a Fleece Soaker.
Last Thoughts about Wool Diaper Covers
We talk about wool as this big scary alternative diapering solution, but wool is an incredibly simple and versatile way to diaper your baby.
- Wool diapers leak less.
- Wool diapers need less washing.
- Wool diapers are durable.
- Wool diapers are comfortable.
- Wool diapers are the ultimate diaper.
Everything you read in a disposable diaper ad about how wonderful single-use diaper…. Is something you can achieve with wool. The first trick to making wool diapering work for you is to just give it a go.
Like most things’ cloth diaper… you are probably overthinking it.
My Reviews & More
My Heavy Wetter Solutions (used with my son)
The diapers I used overnight with my daughter, a lighter wetter.
- Humbird Interlock Woolies
- Sloomb Underwoolies
- Cooper Rose Fitted Diaper
- Lilly & Frank Fitted Diaper
- Pooters Fitted Diaper
But how do I wash wool cloth diaper covers?
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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?
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.
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.
Why is wool diapers expensive
Everything has a cost, and everything has options.
There are premium luxury wool products and low-cost budget. You can upcyle an old wool sweater, or splurge on custom wool from europe.
Wool is only as expensive as you make it with low-cost second hand options easily accessible
Can I use wool during the day?
Yes. Wool is more than just a night time solution. It’s an all day cloth diapering tool
Can I use wool with pul covers?
- Wanna know a secret?
- That’s my favourite way to use wool.
- I like to use wool with PUL covers because some of my covers were aged and beginning to leak from a few weak spots, but the elastics were good. Paired with wool I got more time out of my wool, plus I could use a series of inserts in the cover.
- You can put wool over any leaky diaper for reduced leaks and increased dryness.
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.
Professional Cloth Diaper Educator
Bailey brings 5+ years of cloth diapering experience and conversation to the cloth diaper space. She's not just your every day mom blogger sharing her experience - Bailey is immersed in the cloth diaper community learning from other parents and growing as an individual. She wants to find the cloth diaper solution that truly works for you.
Bailey believes we need to stop and listen to cloth diapering parents. We need to recognize our own bias and preferences and focus on solutions that work for you, not us. The Cloth Diaper community needs to recognize the privilege of being able to cloth diaper, and provide spaces for more conversations and stories.
Cloth diapering is not about rules but about our own strength as parents to do the best we can for our children with the resources available.
Cloth Diaper Podcast is located in Northern BC, Canada on the traditional territories of the Lheidli T'enneh First Nations.
The Cloth Diaper Podcast participates in affiliate programs with differen brands and businesses. Links clicked may result in earned comission to Bailey Bouwman as a result of purchases made. If you have questions about affiliate links and sales please contact Bailey.
Cloth Diaper Podcast (SimplyMomBailey) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
About the Cloth Diaper Podcast
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a somewhat regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world.
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is not affiliated with any school of thought of diaper laundry but instead focus on the power of peer-to-peer story telling to empower you to make your own cloth diaper journey.
Cloth Diapering is not this or that, but rather many different experiences.