Using Wool with Cloth Diapers

I will admit- I can never call myself vegan because I have an addiction to wool.  What started this addiction?  Making wool diaper covers.

I nested by knitting for the baby. Making wool soakers was the best thing to satisfy this obsession.  Even though I sort-of knew how to knit, I really learned by making them.  I really wanted to include them in my cloth diaper system because countless blogs and forums all came to one conclusion: prefolds and wool soakers out perform any other type of cloth diapering system.  Veteran mamas had proved this time and time again.

Benefits to using wool include:

-it’s antibacterial

-unmatched breathability

-keeps baby’s bum insulated during both hot and cold months, even when in a wet diaper.

-Diaper rash is greatly reduced, and in my experience, will heal an already rashed out bum.

-Wool absorbs up to 30% its weight in moisture without feeling wet, so basically waterproof.

– And what can feel better than knowing only natural materials are surrounding your baby?  It’s the oldest form of diapering, and proven to be the best, even with all the technology we now have.

So how does it work?  Wool covers must be lanolized in order for them to perform the way they should.  The lanolin in the cover reacts with the urine and through a chemical process creates soap- and it’s completely sanitary.  You only spot clean the cover should the diaper not hold in all the mess, and wool covers only need lanolizing every 3-6 weeks.  In my experience, it’s on the 6 week side.

Something you should know about wool covers is you can’t use them when baby is in a car seat.  The compression from the restraint squeezes the urine out and you’re left with a baby who needs their clothes changed.  I recommend either having all-in-ones, pockets, or a PUL cover for such occasions.

How to Lanolize Wool Covers

Covers need lanolizing before the first use.  You will know your covers need lanolizing when they start to smell like urine.  My baby must be well hydrated because his urine smells like nothing, so I know they need lanolizing when the cover begins feeling wet, or leaks out onto the clothes.  I have 4 covers and they all start doing this at the same time.

Step 1: Fill the sink or tub with lukewarm water.  Make sure not to get too hot or the wool can felt.  Room temperature is perfect, or even cool water would be good.

Step 2: Put your soap and lanolin in a jar.  There are a few options for soap.  I use Eucalan, which is special for wool.  I have it because I soak my finished knitted objects in it for blocking.  If you don’t have it, you can use a bit of baby shampoo, Charlie’s soap, or other mild soap.  For the lanolin I use Lansinoh brand.  It’s the best in my opinion, but other products can be used.  I use about a quarter inch per soaker so if I’m lanolizing 4 soakers I use an inch of Lansinoh.

Step 3: Add about a half cup of boiling water into the jar with the lanolin and soap.  Cover and shake or swish around until all the lanolin is melted.  Open jar (be careful, it’s hot) and dump into the water in the sink.

Step 4: Immerse soakers in the sink.  Be very gentle with this step because agitation can cause felting.  I gently hold the soakers in the water until they are completely saturated.  Let soak for 15 minutes or even a few hours.  I’ve found that 30 minutes is right for me.

Step 5: After soaking time is up, take the soakers out of the sink.  Gently squeeze and excess water from them.  Do not twist or ring, it can cause them to take on a strange shape.  No rinsing is required.

Step 6: Line soakers on a towel, roll up towel and walk on it to extract any excess water.  Repeat this step until they are fairly dry.  I do it three times, each time using a fresh towel.

Step 7: Lay them out to dry.  I put them on cooling racks so they get maximum airflow.   Avoid direct sunlight with wool, it can be damaging to the fibers.

They will now be ready to use when they are completely dry, usually about 24 hours so plan ahead.

I love using wool covers with my cloth diaper system.  Honestly I think it’s why I’m so passionate about cloth diapering.  It feels so good to use my hand knit items on such a constant basis.  He is happy with it too, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Filed under Cloth Diapering, knitting

11 responses to “Using Wool with Cloth Diapers

  1. Great post! Very informative. Did you make a bunch of different sizes to use as he grows, or is there a pattern that has enough stretchiness to be accomodating for quick growing babies?

  2. soakers are exactly the thing that fueled my knitting addiction! great post!

  3. Another question about this, you have got me wanting to make some soakers. Which pattern did you choose to use? Your Soakers all look great!

    • I made 3 newborn size soakers. Two were the Adaptation soaker by Connie Stults. (You can find the free pattern on Ravelry) I had to adjust the sizing to make it so small, so if you want my measurements, just message me. Anyway, it was knit in garter stitch so it’s really stretchy. My NB sized fit him comfortable for 3 months, and my baby is a lot bigger than other babies his size. I also made Frantic Mama in NB, it fit him for about 6 weeks. But he was 13 pounds at that point. I made Frantic Mama in small, they are still fitting him very well, another Adaptation, and Curly Purly. I love the design of Curly Purly but sinced I used Merino wool it’s lost its shape so I’m going to be making it again with Cascade.

      As for yarn, mostly I used Paton’s, but I wouldn’t use it again. I used Fisherman’s wool on the Adaptation, and it’s holding up like a champ! Def. give that wool 5 stars for soakers. Lots of mamas use Peace Fleece and Cascade, and since now I’m venturing out to higher quality yarns (now that I’m confident enough I’m not going to screw them up) I’m going to be trying them out. I hope I answered all your questions!

  4. Pingback: Can you put washable/reuseable wipes in a wipe warmer?

    • Yes. I haven’t done it personally, but I know other mothers have. I wouldn’t leave them in there longer than 24 hours because it can be a good environment for bacteria to grow. I would also put some Tea Tree oil in the wipes solution you are using since it’s antibacterial and antifungal. Good luck with everything!

    • This is such a great post. I just read it again and I still love it! So informative. I want to start knitting soakers soon!

  5. yep, agree. good post. I cloth diaper (nappy) as you know, but as I can’t knit and was working up until the birth, didn’t get around to knitting wool soakers. But I did buy a few wool covers and have been wondering how to properley lanolinise them since I got them… I still use them but they aren’t as good as they were.

    Now I’ll be able to get them perfect again :0

    and I loved the photo of you on the bed feeding too. Beautiful 🙂

  6. I haven’t managed to knit any wool soakers, but I use wool breast pads and they are my favorites! So much more comfortable than my cotton or soy ones and they are way more absorbent. I use the same wool wash I use for my knitting too. I should bust out the Lansinoh to lanolize them-thanks for the tip. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Types of Cloth Diapers

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