Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why Wool?

I get a lot of questions about good nighttime diapering solutions. Based on my own experience and talking with a lot of cloth diaper users, we have found that a good fitted diaper and a wool diaper cover (or shorties or longies) to be our solution.

When my son was younger (he's now 10 months old), we could get away with a pocket stuffed with microfiber and hemp for overnight but you can only stuff a pocket diaper so much before it starts gaping around the legs. He continues to nurse several times at night and still pees like crazy and he just kept peeing out of his diapers and it left us with too many wet sheets and clothes. So at 6 months we switched to fitteds and wool. We have liked using wool and fitteds so much that I often put them on him in the evenings as well.

The word 'wool' often make you think of something hot, itchy, and hard to care for. However it's actually a very versatile fiber. In short wool is a really natural choice and a lot easier to care for than you would think. Many mamas (and dads!) feel intimidated by wool but I'm here to tell you don't be!

WARNING! Wool can be an addiction...just like cloth don't blame me when you find out how awesome it is and you can't get enough! :)'s the details. Wool is:
  • antibacterial
  • self-cleaning
  • very breathable
  • odor-resistent!!
  • absorbs a ton!

Antibacterial: In contract to synthetics (like covers with PUL), which are commonly used as a wetness barrier, wool is antibacterial. To see the difference you have to look at the microscopic level of wool (click HERE for more details). Basically wool fibers overlap and repel water droplets. In combination with a thin coating of lanolin (which is the oil that is secreted from the sheep's skin), it causes water to run off from the fibers. Synthetic fibers will hold or block moisture in its liquid state, but wool will absorb moisture in its vapor state (hello science class today!). Therefore wool will also release it into the air before bacteria has a chance to start growing.

Self-Cleaning: Wool on a sheep has the bonus of the constant presence of lanolin. When we 'lanolize' our wool we add this important property back into the wool after washing. Lanolin is a really popular ingredient in soapmaking and nipple creams. When the wool fibers swell due to absorption of fluid vapor, it provides friction to scrub itself clean. I grew up around a lot of farm families and I guess this explains why dirty sheep in the fields never really got a bath even before the county fair...just a good rain shower every now and then!

Breathable:  Breathability is a HUGE factor in preventing diaper rash. If your baby's skin can't breathe, bacteria grows and causes a rash (ever wonder why non-cloth babies need so much diaper cream...well, their diapers are made of plastic, which doesn't breathe). Wool fibers are each crimped and it allows a cover to have thousands and thousands of chambers for air to move through and for the skin to breathe. This is why is can keep your baby warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Wool is more comfortable in hot or cold conditions because of this. In fact, the past few nights my son has actually slept in just a fitted diaper and a pair of longies (wool pants).

Absorbs a ton: Wool will first repel (via the wool fibers and lanolin) moisture vapour back into the fitted diaper. What the fitted doesn't absorb, the wool will! Under the outer part of the wool fiber is a very porous core that allows each fiber to store up to 30% it's weight and will slowly let it out in the air via evaporation. Don't know about you, but in one wool cover...that means it can hold a ton of pee. This can mean your fitted can be soaked, your wool cover can feel damp to the touch, but your sheet will be dry! If it does start to leak...well, it can only hold so much so you'll have to change your baby eventually, or it's time to wash and relanolize your covers. PLUS...WOOL IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE DIAPER UNDER IT!

Odor-resistant: Odor is caused by bacteria growing on fibers...since wool is anti-bacterial, no bacteria, no odor! :)

NOT time consuming: Wool only needs to be washed when it starts to smell. I use one cover overnight, turn it inside out in the morning, let it air out, and use it or another cover the next night...and repeat. I wash my wool about every 3 weeks to a month, or I just grab another cover to add into the rotation to get me a little further. If it gets poop on it (only happened to use a few times), you do need to spot clean it right away to prevent stains, but scrubbing with a bar of lanolin rich soap means you won't have to lanolize until wash day.

Bottom line...wool keeps the sheep dry and it can keep your baby dry.

Also keep in mind that wool may seem expensive but you don't need to buy nearly as many to use in a rotation as you do diapers. If you're going to use them only for night, you really only need 2-3 covers.

Also, there can be true wool allergies, just like their can be allergies to PUL, other synthetic fabrics, or even detergents, so watch your baby the first few times you use a new product to watch for an allergy :)

Next blog post will be information on the different types of wool diaper covers!

If you want to try's a link to the wool we currently offer at FiggyFuzz. We will also have more wool coming later this summer :)


  1. I tried wool and no matter what I did she would wake up with damp clothes or sheets. Not soaking wet just damp. The fitted would not be soaking wet either. The only thing I can figure is condensation or something. I am very interested in your posts in the future about wool. I would still like to use wool if I could figure out why this is happening. (I used an EcoPosh wool cover & an EcoPosh One size fitted)

    1. Thanks Melissa! I'll make sure to do a troubleshooting wool post! :)