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Today I had the pleasure of chatting with Marni Duffy, wool connoisseur, cloth diaper manufacturer, and mom of three from Philly. Her passion for using wool is infectious and by the end of our conversation I felt like she shed an intriguing light on this sometimes intimidating diapering material.
According to Marni, wool is a supreme diapering material citing benefits for babies, their caregivers, and the environment. Wool provides breathability, optimum temperature regulation (good for developing reproductive organs and avoiding rashes), and uses no harsh chemicals during its manufacturing process. Lanolin, the natural oil produced by the sheep’s skin and found in it’s wool, is antibacterial and anti-fungal providing added moisture protection, requiring less washing and fewer diaper changes. Wool biodegrades in 1-3 years versus a plastic or other synthetic material which can take up to 300 years and it takes less energy to produce and clean.
Then why does it seem that many parents, even the ones who choose cloth are forgoing wool? Often it comes down to two things: Cost & Convenience. Marni’s response to both was encouraging and poignant. Yes, wool is more expensive…up front. She pointed out that if you make an upfront investment in a few packs of well made pre-folds and just 4-5 high-quality wool covers, you are set. The longevity and resale value of wool is superior to most other materials and an investment in wool may actually save you money in the long term.
In addressing convenience, Marni agreed that hand washing, lanolinzing and air drying seem like a lot but on the flip side using wool lowers your washing frequency, lanolizing does not need to happen with every wash, and implementing simple home strategies (like bulk washing) can help to save time.
At the close of our conversation, Marni made a simple, but powerful statement, “sometimes the easiest choice is not the best”. Underlying the practicality of our entire discussion I felt the familiar tug of emotion I constantly experience as a parent who toddles the fine line between convenience and conviction. While cloth diapering with wool may not be the easiest choice in comparison to the plethora of options at our fingertips these days, it seems that by integrating even just a few wool pieces in our diapering repertoire can be a satisfying, worthwhile choice.
Marni’s Simple Step-by-Step Guide to Lanolizing Your Wool:
- Heat 1 cup water
- Add a pea to dime size of solid lanolin to the water
- Add a few drops of wool wash and mix until milky
- Add mixture to a basin of lukewarm water and stir
- Add wool covers inside out and gently soak for 30 minutes – overnight
- Take the diapers out of the basin
- Lay between two towels and squeeze out excess moisture, being careful not to twist
- Lay flat to dry
Depending on your baby’s habits, lanolizing typically needs to be done every 1-2 months.
In 2008, after the birth of her second child and overcoming her own initial apprehension of wool, Marni began experimenting by making a few diapers out of some old sweaters. After many unsuccessful attempts and years of honing her design skills and knowledge of wool Marni has emerged as a successful manufacturer and purveyor of a wide array of beautiful fitted wool diapers and covers which can be purchased through The Nesting House or her online Etsy store, Rebourne.