If you’ve spent time searching for a bulletproof nighttime cloth diapering solution, you’ve likely come across more than a few suggestions urging you to consider wool soakers or longies. While this option might seem incredibly intimidating at first – as visions of hand washing, long hot lanolin baths, and hours of dry time flash through your mind – I’m here to help convince you to take the plunge!
There are plenty of very good reasons people are often so keen to recommend wool. It insulates (even when wet), it’s durable, it’s breathable, and it actually requires a fairly infrequent washing routine. Sounds pretty great so far – let’s dig in!
The Science Behind Wool
If you’re wondering what makes wool so particularly suited for keeping baby dry at night, it comes down to the structure of the material itself. The inner core of wool fibers can absorb nearly half their own weight in moisture! Wool needs to be saturated with 60% of its own weight in liquid before it begins to feel wet to the touch – even when fully saturated, wool still retains 80% of its insulating value, meaning it stays warm and cozy, even when wet.
Wool can also withstand being bent up to 20,000 times without breaking. By comparison, cotton breaks after 3,000 bends, silk after 2,000, and rayon after just 75 bends. Wool’s natural elasticity means that its fibres are less likely to break down, resulting in fabrics that are made from wool being less likely to tear. In addition, wool has a natural ability to “spring back” into shape, meaning that woollen garments tend to retain their form far better than garments made from other fibres.
Comfy, Cozy, and Versatile
Wool is renowned for its ability to regulate body temperature. During winter, wool’s insulating qualities keep dry air and warmth near the skin. This natural ability to retain heat while shedding water results in a fabric that keeps the body warm, even when it might be raining or wet outside. In summer, wool’s coil-like shape actually has a cooling effect, pulling excess heat and moisture from skin and helping the wearer to beat the heat.
In addition to its heating and cooling capabilities, wool is also naturally anti-bacterial. There’s a thin, waxy coating covering woollen fibres containing naturally-occurring fatty acids that helps to repel water and inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. This means that woollen items can get by without regular washing and will still smell clean, even after repeated use (unlike synthetic fibres, which require a consistent wash routine to stay fresh).
Further, wool is also stain-resistant – which is definitely an added bonus when dealing with tiny humans! Remember that waxy outer coating we just talked about? It also repels liquids, meaning that if you spill anything on your knitwear, it’s likely to just simply roll off, leaving what is left behind easily wiped away and cleaned up. Not bad at all!
Care and Maintenance
Now that we’ve talked about why wool is such a fabulous fibre and gone over how it helps to repel moisture (particularly, by pushing liquids back into overnight diapers, keeping clothes and bedding dry in the process!), let’s discuss its care.
As we detailed earlier, woollen items really do not need regular washing. Odour-causing bacteria is naturally inhibited by the fatty acids that coat wool fibres. Static build-up (which attracts lint, dirt and dust) is also inhibited by this waxy coating. The scaly surface area of woollen fibres act to block dirt and stains from being absorbed – instead, particles sit on top, which make them much easier to remove.
All of this means that caring for your wool soaker or longies is as easy as a quick scrunch in a small amount of lukewarm water with a half-cap of wool wash (Eucalan or something similar) followed by a one- to four-hour long lanolin bath. Roll the freshly lano’d wool in a towel, squeeze out the excess water, and allow to lay flat until dry. If you need a bit more info on the process, there are some great blog resources out there that beautifully illustrate the process – be sure to check them out!
Since wool’s dry time can be a couple of days, it’s wise to have at least 2 wool covers to alternate between. Wool soakers are also wonderful in that they can fit a wide variety of sizes – and at the end of the day, your babe is sure to look comfy and adorable sporting wool to bed!
I hope I’ve changed your mind and convinced you to give wool a go when it comes to keeping your little one warm, dry, and cozy at night. Not only is wool cute and cuddly, but if you’re a decent hand with a needle and thread, you can easily make your own woollen items using material from unwanted sweaters or clothing picked up from thrift stores – a great way to be creative and save a bit of money all at once! If you have any other questions about wool, nighttime diapering, or cloth in general, feel free to reach out to us at Pumpkin’s Diaper Delivery – we’re always happy to chat and help come up with solutions for all your cloth diapering needs!