Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 3- Why Wool?

When I first started cloth diapering over 17 years ago, I heard about wool covers. The only ones I found were really expensive and I read mixed reviews on how well they actually worked. Some people really loved them and others absolutely hated them. Since I was on a really tight budget, I decided not to try any.
I cloth diaper my kids for many reasons. Finances are actually the deciding factor on how I diaper, but they aren't really the main reason WHY I cloth diaper. The main reasons why I use cloth are that I feel it is much more ecologically sound and that I have children with very sensitive skin who break out from disposables. For both of those reasons I remained intrigued by wool covers. While cloth diapers are pretty eco-friendly, covers can be a bit less so. I still feel that the chemicals and production costs of reusable covers is a better alternative than single use diapers, but I still thought that there must be something even better.
Then baby number four came along. He was a super wetter! One of those kids who could completely soak a diaper in one pee. During the day, I was able to add a doubler to his diaper and change him promptly. Every night we had leaks though. I started looking for different options and kept coming up with wool covers again. They were still outrageously expensive to buy, but I found tutorials on how to make my own out of thrift store sweaters. I promptly went to our local thrift store and bought up a few wool sweaters. It turned out to be my diapering solution! Unfortunately, it became very popular in my area for moms to make and sell these on the internet and I had a really hard time finding cheap sweaters. I eventually was able to buy some wool fabric from a co-op, but that wasn't a very good option. It was still pretty expensive and it's a pretty long process. I also had trouble finding the right fabric when I wanted it.
That's when I discovered patterns for knitting your own wool covers. Wool yarn can be found pretty inexpensively at stores like Joann and Michaels. There was only one problem. I didn't know how to knit. I'd been crocheting for pretty much ever, but I'd never been able to figure out knitting. I finally found some crochet soaker patterns and made up a few, but there weren't nearly as many patterns for crochet. Then, my daughter had the opportunity to take a knitting class and parents were invited along to help out. I decided that if children as young as 8 could take a knitting class that I could learn too. I spent the next year making scarves and then finally started knitting soakers!
What do I love about wool soakers besides the fact that they are so cute? First, they are incredibly easy to take care of. I didn't believe this at first, since I kept reading about handwashing and lanolizing, but the thing is you don't have to do that very often. I wash soakers fairly often now, because I have a very messy toddler and they get food and dirt on them, but on a smaller or less messy baby soakers only need washed every few weeks. Second, they really are the most leak proof covers I've ever used. Third, they can be used as outerwear, saving even more since I don't have to buy separate pants. Fourth, I feel that they are the most ecological option, especially if you are careful to buy eco-friendly, untreated wools. Finally, most importantly, my kids don't break out in them. I've always had to be super careful about which covers I use and how long they stay on, and what detergent I use to wash with. I don't have to worry about that with wool at all. If one of the kids gets a rash, using only wool covers and natural fiber diapers for a few days clears it right up.
Owen wore this pair of longies for nearly two years!
I highly recommend everyone try some wool covers. Especially since they can actually be one of the most inexpensive cover options if you (or someone you know) knits or crochets.


  1. I don't cloth diaper for various reasons... But I'm obsessed with felting sweaters. This fall I found a second use... Taking my daughter to the park in the wet pnw was no issue with felted pants and sweater made out of reject sweaters from our closet. She stayed warm and dry and these stayed clean :) I now prowl for them and check the sleeves the most... I don't knit but my mama does :)

    1. Annie, I know! Wool is great here in the rain. I also like the fact that it is naturally fire resistant without all the chemicals like synthetics.