Wool soakers (also called longies, woolies, shorties and soakers) are diaper covers made from 100% wool designed to be worn over Flat, Fitted, Prefold and Contour cloth diapers. Wool soakers are typically made from Angora or Merino wool and are extremely soft, breathable, and naturally antibacterial. The beauty of wool soakers is that they can absorb up to one-third of their own weight in water, they're naturally antibacterial and they breathe extremely well so they can be worn in both warm and cold months. For this reason they are great for use during both day and night.
When the diaper becomes wet, the wool soaker wicks the moisture away from the diaper by absorbing it. Lanolin, a natural oil that comes from sheep, keeps the urine from leaking back out of the wool quickly. Over time, the lanolin needs to be replaced (roughly every 2 to 3 weeks) to help the wool soaker maintain its super absorbent abilities. This is done through a process called lanolizing. Lanolizing cleans the wool and restores the lanolin to the cover.
In between use, air out your wool soaker by laying it flat. This will allow the cover to dry and will eliminate any odors that may be in the wool cover. If poop gets on the diaper cover, you will need to clean and lanolize immediately.
A cheaper option to wool soakers are fleece covers. Like wool soakers, fleece covers are meant to be worn over Flat, Fitted, Prefold and Contour diapers. Unlike wool however, fleece covers don’t breathe as well making them great for colder months, but aren't recommended for use during warmer months as they would make baby hot. The upsides to fleece covers however are that they are not as expensive as wool soakers and they don't require a special cleaning process (i.e. they can be thrown in the wash with your other diapers).
For more info on Fleece covers, see Caring for Fleece.
There are a ton of wool cover brands out there. Listed below are the most commonly purchased wool brands. If you're the DIY (do-it-yourself) type, you can also try your hand at either knitting your own wool or sewing your own wool covers from upcycled wool sweaters. Below are a few DIY resources too.
Popular Wool Brands
DIY wool soaker tutorials
If you've purchased a wool cover to use with your cloth diapers, then you'll need to lanolize it to make it "water proof". Below are simple instructions for lanolizing your wool.
Note: you will need to do this every 2 to 3 weeks, if your wool gets stinky, or when your wool starts to leak.
What You’ll Need:
Note: Never dry wool in the dryer and never use Woolite.
When stored over a period of time, wool has a propensity to be eaten by a number of insects - mainly moths and carpet beetles. They're attracted to the protein in the wool fiber. To keep insects from eating your wool, follow these simple steps:
Do NOT store your wool in a cardboard box, plastic bag or plastic bin. This will cause mold and mildew damage. Also, keep away from direct sunlight, damp areas, hot attics.
Washing wool in hot water or (in my case) if your wool got accidently tossed in the washing machine and then the dryer (ouch!) then your wool cover has shrunken and tighted quit a bit. Follow these steps to loosen up your wool so you can use it again.
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