It seems there are two reasons most of us have steered clear of wool in the past:
Washing / Care – it seems so scary, right? What if I mess it up? What if I ruin the cover? Don’t worry, I’m going to talk about all this tomorrow!
Cost – Thirty, Forty, Sixty dollars for a diaper cover? Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!? And what if I don’t even like it!?
Let’s talk about why wool is so pricey, and how to justify the cost.
Wool is an all-natural fiber, and as such, is not as easy or cheap to mass produce as are PUL covers or other synthetics. Also, wool has various quality grades, and for diapering, you really need a quality grade merino or lambswool. Even if using upcycled sweaters, it’s important to find ones that are at least 80% wool – I have checked these out at thrift stores and they aren’t exactly dirt cheap. So, the materials themselves are just expensive materials.
If you’re looking for organic, or hand-spun wool (instead of over-processed, mass-produced wool), you have to add in the cost of labor to hand-process the raw material. Hand-knit wool covers can be very labor intensive – I read on a yahoo.com Answer boards that it can take a knitter 4-10 hours to hand knit a pair of longies! Wow! So they aren’t even making minimum wage after all is said and done!
However, despite the cost, there are factors that make spending the money worthwhile:
Quality – as I mentioned before, wool has properties completely unavailable via synthetic material. In addition to being breathable, a water barrier, and absorbent, wool is also anti-microbial. This means odor-causing bacteria cannot live in the wool fibers – meaning fresher smelling babies!
NaturalFibers– some children with chemical sensitivities might benefit from the all-natural fibers of wool, or perhaps your family is committed to using all-natural products, including clothing. A wool cover is probably your only answer if those two conditions are factors in your lifestyle.
Reusable – this is the most important one – a pair of wool longies might cost you from $30-80 depending on brand, quality, style. However, that same pair can be used again and again without washing for about a month (don’t say ew, I’ll explain tomorrow!). So, while it might take you 4-6 PUL covers to diaper your baby for a day (at $12-20 each!), if you use wool, you could get away with only two wool covers. And if you decide to only use wool at night, even better, you can just buy ONE wool cover, let it air out during the day and reuse the next night. Also, some discussion boards I read suggested that since wool can be a bit stretchy, the same cover will fit a baby through multiple sizes, eliminating the need to buy the “next size up” all the time. So, yes, you’re shelling out a lot for one diaper cover, but you are able to use it more frequently.
Convenient – The last point alluded to this, but because wool can be air-dried and reused for a long period of time before washing, your laundry duty is reduced. Also laundry and water expenditures. Which, I realize in the grand scheme of things may not be much, but it could add up!
Multi-purpose – Finally, if you’re worried you’ll buy the wool and not like it, you can always use the wool longies as a pair of pants, use it as EXTRA protection over your pocket diaper covers at night, or resell it for a good price at Diaper Swappers or Re-Diaper. So all would not be lost.
When I realized these unique benefits of wool, although I still know it’s a good chunk of change, I understand better what I was paying for, and am more comfortable with the cost.
How about you? Do you have wool sticker shock? Do you have other reasons why wool diapers are worth the cost?