How does wool work for cloth diapering?
Wool is a natural, breathable fiber obtained mainly from sheep. The intrinsic properties of wool make it the perfect diaper cover; the outside of wool fibers repels wetness while the inside of the fibers attracts it; wool is also antibacterial. It can also absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling wet. Worn over a cloth diaper (usually either a fitted, prefold or flats), a wool cover keeps the moisture where it belongs, in the diaper, while keeping the outside (i.e. bedding and clothing) dry, making it the perfect cover for nighttime cloth diapering.
Interlock or Knitted?
Wool that is used for cloth diapering comes in two main forms – interlock and knitted. Interlock wool is double-knit, machine woven wool most often made from Merino wool (a specific breed of sheep), but it may also contain a small percentage of spandex to give it a bit more stretch and recovery. Interlock wool is very tightly woven and often pre-felted, so individual stitches are difficult to see.
Knitted wool has been hand- or machine- knit (or crocheted) from wool yarn and can be comprised of 100% wool or other fibers in addition to wool such as silk, lycra, nylon, cotton, or bamboo, depending on the content of the yarn. Knitted wool is easy to identify because individual stitches can be seen.
In addition to these two types of wool diaper covers, upcycled wool is a great budget-friendly option made from recycling knitted wool sweaters.
Wool covers can be more than just a cover (also known as a soaker). Shorties (calf-length or shorter wool pants) and longies (long wool pants) are the perfect alternative for cooler nights or for using wool outside of the home when wearing clothing over a wool soaker and cloth diaper would be too cumbersome or bulky.
The idea of laundering and lanolizing is what keeps many cloth diapering families from trying wool. In reality, due to wool’s natural antibacterial properties, it does not retain odors or germs therefore soakers, shorties, and longies don’t need to be washed very often (wash when visibly stained or the smell of urine remains even after the wool is dry) and only needs to be re-lanolized every few weeks. Check out the follow up to this post to see how easy it can really be!
Do you use wool? Comment letting me know your favorite brands and if you prefer knit or interlock?
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I'm Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them.
I'm the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have a daughter and identical twin sons.