Home » Cloth Diapering with Wool
I don’t mean to sound super lazy, but I am, so don’t judge too harshly: I will do anything not to have to change sheets more than necessary. That’s the main reason I decided to give cloth diapering with wool a try when my daughter was born, but there were other reasons too.
When my older boys were in diapers (they both wore disposables), they nursed through the night and would pee by the gallon. Even with premium brand overnight diapers I changed wet sheets at least 2-3 times a week. Plus as a bed-sharing family, waking up in that was not my favorite. That was one of my biggest hesitations when we considered cloth diapering for our third child. Cloth diapering was already going to intensify our laundry situation, so if they were leaky at night I didn’t think I could deal.
We started out fine the first few months. But once babies are past that stage of pooping around the clock, nighttime cloth diapering gets tricky. You don’t want to wake a sleeping baby unnecessarily, but it’s like a game of chicken with those sheets. We found a solution that worked for a while: Sloomb Overnight Bamboo Fitted diapers with a PUL cover (laminated polyester shell). The OBFs can hold a ton of liquid and we were blissfully leak-free! Unfortunately our chunky-legged gal started waking up with angry red marks on her legs where the elastic from the cover was too tight, even on the loosest setting. The other option for covering the fitted diaper is wool.
Wearing the Woolies
As a child of the 80’s with not-so-fond memories of itchy sweaters, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of using wool. Turns out I’d really only ever owned pretty low-quality wool. I was so impressed by everything I read about wool as part of diapering that I decided to stop into Acorn Treasures and check out their stash.
The silky softness of the Sloomb wool covers instantly won me over. I knew that the stretchy, ribbed leg openings were just what we needed. On its own, wool is quite absorbent and you will often hear wool covers referred to as “soakers”. When properly lanolized, it will also repel the moisture back into the absorbent diaper underneath. As an overnight solution it is a perfect match! Yes it is bulky, my baby looks like she is smuggling a bowling ball into bed. But in almost a year of wearing wool at night we’ve had… wait for it – ZERO leaks. Holla!
Getting Baby Started & Washing Wool
After a pep talk from Sarah at Acorn Treasures and purchasing a few wool care goodies (Sloomb sells a wool care kit to get you started) I was ready to get my wool prepped and on baby’s bum!
The process of washing and lano’ing wool is actually much easier than I’d feared. I use Soak brand wool wash and give my covers a bath in warm water. While they’re soaking, I prepare my lano water. A small Pyrex bowl of water goes in to the microwave until it is hot like tea. I scoop about a teaspoon of solid lanolin, and 2 emulsifying cubes and stir them together in the hot water until it looks like a bowl of milk. At this point you can use ice cubes to bring down the temperature a bit (exposing wet wool to extreme temperature changes can cause felting which is where the fibers mat together and the garment becomes less stretchy and soft). I drain off my wash water, rinse with a bit of warm water, turn my wool inside out, and pour the warm lanolin water into the wash basin. Turning inside out helps keep the inside surface the most thoroughly lanolized and also helps prevent spotting if you have any little bits of lanolin that didn’t emulsify all the way. I let my covers sit in the lanolin bath for several hours, sometimes overnight before running them through a dry spin cycle in the washing machine to get as much liquid out as possible. After that, I press them in a towel and hang dry for a day, maybe two during high humidity.
If that sounds like a lengthy process, consider this: wool can be worn soooo many times in between washes. The fatty acid in lanolin and ammonia in urine undergo an acid/base reaction to form a salt and water. So until all that lanolin is used up and you start smelling urine, once air-dried, your wool is clean. I have several covers that I keep in a rotation and only wash them maybe every 6 weeks. Even then, I’ve never let then get to the point of being smelly, so I may be over-washing.
I love knowing that my baby is sleeping in something breathable and healthy for her skin. I love that wool is part of a choice we made to reduce how much trash we generate and helps us achieve our goal of living a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. The resale market for wool is pretty incredible and there is a huge network of Sloomb mamas that recycle their outgrown wool to other babes. Since the initial investment for wool can be steep, it feels good to know that the product is of a quality that allows it to be re-sold or passed-along to be used by more children. I also super love not waking up in pee sheets.
I promise I do wash our sheets… I just don’t need to do it every other day.
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The mom of two rambunctious redheads, Meg Nester is a Chicago area native and wannabe crafter extraordinaire. When she’s not tending to her boys or training for triathlons, you can find her in the garage wielding her beloved power tools or firing up a kiln full of enamel jewelry.