New to Cloth Diapers Part 2

November 18, 2009


In Part 1, I explained to you the different cloth diaper systems.  In Part 2, I will show you the different cloth diaper covers available.

We’ve all heard of “plastic pants”. Plastic pants are made of Polyvinyl Chloride or vinyl.  Although this is a cheap, easily accessible choice it is not the healthiest. PVC is a polymer made from vinyl chloride monomer and often contains harmful phthalates as unbound plasticizers.

These vinyl pants do not allow for any air flow, also called “breathing”. The moisture stays right there close to your baby’s skin which can encourage the growth of yeast (rash). Plastic of any kind releases harmful chemicals at high rates when the structure is heated. Having phthalates in close proximity to your baby’s most sensitive parts is not a wise choice.


The next choice i made of PUL (Polyurethane Laminate).  PUL is applied to the back of a porous fabric like cotton or polyester to create a flexible, waterproof barrier. Popular covers made in this fashion are Prowraps, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap (bsww), Motherease Airflow (meaf), Thirsties, Juicy Toots, and Geny. Prowraps and bsww are widely accepted as the top cover choice for newborns.


Fleece is a wonderful fabric for diaper covers. It is 100% polyester and breathable. It works because it is also water-repellent. So you get the great combination of breathability and water repellency. Add to that easy care and you have a terrific diaper cover.

If you are experiencing leaks in clothing, first make sure you have an absorbent enough diaper underneath so that it’s not getting absolutely soaked between changes. Then make sure that the clothing going over the cover is cut full in the crotch and not compressing the fleece.

If you have any sewing skills there is a free fleece soaker pattern available to anyone called Katrina’s Sew Quick Soaker Pattern. I have tried it and it is very simple. The instructions were easy to follow and it was fun getting to use all the fleece in my fabric closet. Be sure to read through the above link for some helpful tips. For this pattern I used arctic polar fleece from JoAnns.


Wool is the king of all diaper covers. There are many advantages to using wool:

  • Because of it’s breathability wool will keep your baby warm in the cold and cool in the heat (and yes that means if you live in Texas, Florida or Arizona you CAN use wool).
  • Wool has the most absorbent fibers of all fabrics. It can absorb up to 30 percent of its own weight in moisture before it becomes really damp.
  • Wool is very comfortable because of its free movement with the body and soft fibers.
  • Wool does not need to be washed very often. When the lanolin (containing fatty acids, having an acidic pH) in the wool reacts with the urea (basic pH) in urine, a chemical reaction occurs. Acids + Bases react to create the end products of water and salt. So the urine is no longer urine – it has been neutralized thanks to this wonderful chemical reaction!

Wool really is “self-cleaning,” with no residual smell of urine, until all the lanolin is exhausted. At this time, you will begin to notice that your soaker doesn’t perform as well as you know it can- this is due to the salt build-up on the wool fibers, and the fact that there is no longer enough lanolin left in the wool to power the chemical reaction that neutralizes the urine. Then you just need to wash and re-lanolize your wool– a very easy process.

Wool can be knitted into longies, shorties or soakers (wool pull on). Wool diaper covers can also be made out of interlock wool. Interlock is 97% wool, 3% lycra. It is very stretchy, felted wool.  Interlock is super durable and very versatile.  I highly recommend it.

Wool can be a more expensive purchase, however you do not need as many of them in your stash. Having just 1 daytime and 1 nighttime wool covers would be manageable. Wool diaper covers range anywhere from $22 to $100+ (the high end is when you purchase wool and have it custom knit up for you by a talented WAHM).

Recycled wool is a highly affordable way to use wool, as well. It is easy to do and if you select sweaters that are soft and thick and 100% wool, you will never have a leak. Here is the pattern I used to make my first wool before my third child was born:

How-to Make Longies out of Wool Sweaters

Future installments will include washing tips and nighttime cloth diapering.

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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

9 Responses to “New to Cloth Diapers Part 2”

  1. Andi Says:

    Wool sounds like the best option for diaper covers! My only reservation to using it is that I am highly allergic to wool, as are my mother and sister. If my skin touches wool, I almost immediately break out in red, itchy spots. I’m allergic to wool in sweaters, coats, and even to cashmere.

    Is it possible or likely that my baby will also be allergic to wool? (He or she has not arrived yet, so I can’t test it out!) Even if my baby isn’t allergic, would I be likely to break out after diapering baby? It is hard for me to imagine a diaper cover that looks like a sweater, so I’m thinking maybe the wool is spun differently and I might be okay.



  2. Satah Says:

    There are other pull on pants on the market that use a very thin laminated nylon material. It’s breathable. Does not crack in the dryer. Does not leak. And they are super cheap! Between $3-6 ea for 1 cover. I’ve been using them on all four of my kids for over 13 yrs!


  3. Christine Says:

    I have found wool to be the best nighttime cover because it never leaks. No pee spots in my bed! Knitting was my nesting compulsion during my pregnancy so my daughter has a hearty wool wardrobe. The one down side to wool is that you can’t put a onesie on the baby and a t-shirt is in her armpits every time you pick her up.


  4. Nurture Says:

    As I said before, our store is new to carrying cloth diapers, so we are still learning! We carry pocket diapers (bumgenius and Fuzzi Bunz) which come with their own cover. Are the covers your speaking of here the various options available if you are using prefolds?


  5. Libby Says:

    What about nylon or taffeta pull on pants are these just as bad as the vinyl??


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      nylon, like PUL, is made from petroleum. they are similar. in my experience, my PUL covers hold up better (I dry them).


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