Wool Diaper Covers: The Perfect Companion to Cloth Diapering

Wool Covers

Sugar Pea
Sugar Pea
Be-Bops Wool
Be-Bops Wool
Niji
Niji
Heart and Hand Straining
Heart and Hand Straining

The Advantages of Wool

Wool is highly absorbent, capable of retaining up to 25-35 percent of its weight in moisture. Wool is slow to feel damp, and it dries as slowly, so does not chill the wearer by drying too fast as cotton and silk can.

Wool is naturally flame-retardant, owing to its tendency to retain moisture.

While being absorbent, wool remains breathable, allowing for a maximum amount of circulation around baby's bum. This helps prevent diaper rash, but also alleviates the health concerns of trapped heat within a diapering system.

Wool boasts of the finest comforts, its elasticity means the cover fits well and yields to the baby's movement. Baby can bend, stretch, crawl, pull-up easily and walk without disturbing the cover.

Wool is easy to care for, as it need not be washed as often as synthetic diaper covers. Wool is dirt resistant, the crimp and the scales prevent dirt from penetrating the surface of the wool fiber, the static resistance helps to resist dust and lint from the air. Shortly after changing baby's diaper, wool covers may smell of urine, however a system of rotating and airing them out will cause the smell to disappear completely.

Finally, wool contains natural lanolin. Lanolin naturally creates a waterproof barrier or repellency. It also works as an anti-bacterial, combining with the ammonia in the urine to create it's own soap. One way to know that a wool cover needs laundering (outside of being soiled with fecal matter), is if the urine smell does not fade after an airing. This means the lanolin has worn thin and has lost most of its waterproofing as well.

Gideon, showing off for the camera!  The pattern is my own creation.
Gideon, showing off for the camera! The pattern is my own creation.

I first heard of wool diaper covers when my fourth son was a toddler. He was the first baby that I used cloth diapers with, and was relying on the supplies available at Wall-Mart to do the job. The plastic pant, made by Gerber, were a disappointment, as they were always tearing out.

That is when an acquaintance told me about the wool diaper covers, also know as soakers, she had used with her then teen-age daughters. She told me how well they breathed, how they rarely leaked, and how much nicer they were than the rubber pants that I was using. I was sceptical, but did some research on the properties of wool, and found out it is not only breathable, but water-proof and anti-bacterial. I looked for wool covers in a number of stores that sold cloth diapers, but no shop owner knew what I was talking about.

The next time I heard of wool diaper covers, I was reading the Norwegian book, written in the 1800's. The main character was knitting triangular covers for the baby she was expecting. This prompted me to learn to knit. However, by the time I was proficient at knitting, my baby no longer needed diapers.

Then baby number five came along and once again I was motivated. On-line, I found a few companies who sold wool diaper covers as well as patterns. After trying many patterns, I developed a pattern of my own that perfectly suits our needs. 

I have used wool covers almost exclusively for this last baby, and only wish I had known about them ten years ago, when my parenting journey began!

The Disadvantage of Wool

The downside of wool it is its propensity to be eaten by a number of insects, especially when in storage.  These insects include moth larvae and carpet beetles. The reason is that wool fiber is basically made up of protein, and as such, is a highly desirable food source for larvae.

There are a variety of preventative methods to keep insects from eating your wool diaper covers. Before storing them for any length of time, be sure to thoroughly clean them. Cedar wood is a good natural deterrent, and wicker baskets are reputed to be excellent containers. Ideally, your wool diaper covers should be placed into cotton bags, which allows them to breathe.  Another option is to wrap them in acid free tissue paper, and then in newspaper, as moths do not like newsprint. 

Plastic bags and bins are not a good idea because they don't allow air circulation. Any moisture remaining in the container will result in a musty smell, and possibly even mold or mildew damage.

What about Allergies?

Allergies to wool are one of the rarest allergies known to man.1

Most who think they are allergic to wool are actually allergic to the processing that commercial wool is treated to. Commercial wool is often bathed in acid to remove impurities, before it is spun and woven or knit.

To effectively remove the processing/chemicals, carefully place the wool garment in extremely hot water. Do not agitate the garment, as this will cause it to shrink. Leave the garment in the water until the water has cooled completely, then wash the garment using a wool-friendly soap. Rinse thoroughly. If the wool garment is rough to the touch, you may want to add a drop or two of hair conditioner to the rinse. Squeeze excess water from the garment, roll in a towel to remove more water, then lay on a dry towel, shape and allow to dry.

1Allergy Treatment.com

 

Examples

Pull-ons:  by Aristocat
Pull-ons: by Aristocat
Wrap:  by Punkin-Butt
Wrap: by Punkin-Butt
Longies:  avalible at The Stork Wearhouse
Longies: avalible at The Stork Wearhouse

Types of Wool Diaper Coves

There are three basic styles of wool diaper covers, also known as 'Soakers', available:

  • Pull-ons
  • Wraps
  • Longies

Pull-on diaper covers fit over the diaper like underwear. They often have short cuffs, for a snug fit around the legs. Pull-ons are usually make of a knit fabric. They can be hand knit, crocheted or sewn.

Wraps are shaped much like a fitted diaper, and are secured around the baby with snaps of velcro. Wraps can be knit, crocheted or sewn of woven fabric.

Longies are pant like diaper covers. They are usually hand knit or made by recycling sweater sleeves.

These can be made at home or purchased. There are many manufacturers and private companies accessible on-line.

Below, I have listed some pattern sources and some retailers.

Using Wool Diaper Covers

Wool diaper covers are easy to care for, as wool does not need frequent laundering; once every 2-4 weeks will keep your baby nice and fresh.

Most covers require hand washing, but this will only take a few minutes. There are some brands that can be machine washed (check with the manufacture for details), but homemade ones will shrink and felt if machine washed, leaving you with a doll sized cover.

Three covers are needed to keep your baby fresh and dry. More may be wanted, if they are an integral part of your baby's wardrobe, such as layette sets. You will also want to consider more if your home is cool or humid, as they can take a while to dry after washing. I have done well with four pairs.

To care for your wool covers:

Hang covers in a warm place or lay them over a radiator or on top of a running dryer, to air and dry, after each diaper change. They may smell like urine to begin with, but this will dissipate quickly, unless the cover needs washed and relanolinized. (As stated before, it is the lanolin that keeps the cover waterproof and anti-bacterial.) If there is poo on the cover, rinse it off in temped water, scrubbing gently. Squeeze (don't wring) out extra moister, and hang to dry.

When the diaper cover begins to smell of urine even when dry, wash it gently by hand in lukewarm water with 1/4 of a cup of lanolin soap. Swoosh gently and let it soak for 15 minutes. Rinse in lukewarm water. Squeeze it out, then roll it up in a towel and press the excess water out. Give the diaper cover a quick, brisk shake, stretch it to shape and place it to dry, preferably over a mild heat source. If a heat source is not available, then lay it on a cotton towel in the sunshine to air dry.

Trouble Shoot

If you are having trouble with your wool covers leaking, check the diaper. The cover is only as good as the diaper beneath it. If your baby can pee through the diaper or thoroughly soak it in one pee, then you need a thicker diaper. To solve this problem, you can double up the diapers or use liners for extra absorbency.

My last baby could pee right through a disposable diaper. He would hardly wet the diaper, but leave a puddle on the floor.  Two cloth diapers and a wool cover kept the floor and I dry.

If your covers are not coming clean, it may be your water. Try washing them in distilled water, as a very hard or soft water may distort the color.

Homemade Wool Wash

 While there are many great wool washes available, you may want to make your own.  By making your own, you choose the sent and know exactly what is in it.

Ingredients:

Pure Lanolin -- look for quality.

Baby Wash or Shampoo -- use something that you would use on your baby.

Essential Oils -- Essential oils are optional.  Lavender, Eucalyptus and Cedar are bug repellent, helping to keep your covers safe from moths.  Lavender is relaxing and often recommended for babies.

Boiling Water

Directions:

  • Pour about 1 cup of water into a heat proof container, like a mug.
  • Drop in 1/8 teaspoon of Pure Lanolin per cover being washed.
  • Add 2-3 drops of Baby Wash.
  • Add a few drops of Essential Oil.
  • Stir to dissolve Lanolin.  It will float in little beads on the water.
  • Pour Wool Wash into lukewarm wash water, and use like a commercial wash.

 

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Comments 22 comments

Princessa profile image

Princessa 7 years ago from France

They look really cute :)


circusmama profile image

circusmama 7 years ago from Michigan

Those are cute! I didn't know they were antibacterial.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Finding out they were anti-bacterial was one of the big reasons I began using them.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Fantastic hub! Loads of information on a most excellent topic, Christa. Nice pros, cons, and allergy info. So cute! I can't wait to be a grandma (long time from now, but still.) :) Love your writing. Awesome as usual.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Frieda, Thank you so much.


SoulaBee profile image

SoulaBee 7 years ago from United States

You're very thorough with your information. Great idea. Thanks for sharing. Thumbs up!


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

SoulaBee: Thank you for stopping by and reading.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

P.S. Frieda, that makes one more thing in common --I can't wait to be a grandma either!


JetaConnor 7 years ago

Great information! I use woolies too!


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Jeta: What type do you prefer?


Priscilla 7 years ago

Thanks for this great info-blog on wool covers. I am pleased to see that you listed my Be-Bops Duo. I have updated the style and now carry cloth diapers as well as wool covers. :)


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Priscilla: Thank you. You have an excellent selection of products at your site.


scubasara385 profile image

scubasara385 7 years ago from Ohio

Thanks for some great wool info!


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Glad you enjoyed!


CuzzoShizzo profile image

CuzzoShizzo 6 years ago from USA

Wool covers are great for cloth diapers. Thank you for the great information! Keep up the good work.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Thank you CuzzoShizzo.


Tracy Monroy 6 years ago

The cutest idea ever! I love that it's an anti-bacterial too. I've put this idea on my sewing projects to try. This one is perfect for a baby shower gift too.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Thank you Tracy. Do let me know how yours turn out.


AutumnLockwood profile image

AutumnLockwood 6 years ago from Northern California

The downside of wool it is its propensity to be eaten by a number of insects, especially when in storage. These insects include moth larvae and carpet beetles. -- This is disturbing. I'll buy cloth diapers next time.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 6 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

While bugs can be a problem, storing things properly, with the right herbs or other repellents, it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

I have stored wool items for years and never yet had an issue with bugs.


Olivia  5 years ago

I love wool!!! I'm really big into recycled wool longies myself. I wish I hadn't been intimidated by them and tried them earlier. I post this article to everyone who wants to learn about wool, EVERYONE. It is so informative, Thank you!

Lov

Liv

PS. 29 Diapers is giving away Wool Care Products, right now.

http://www.29diapers.com/2010/12/21/29-diapers-29-...


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 5 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America Author

Thank you Olivia! Good luck with your giveaway.

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