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Demystifying Wool Covers and Cloth Diapers

January 03, 2013

Guest post by Tanya, Wool Extraordinaire

wool and cloth diapersWhy Wool  Covers?
When I say wool do you think scratchy, hot, sweaters fully of holes that pee can leak through?  Well let me help paint a new picture for you.  Let me paint a picture of breathability and less diaper rashes for your baby.  A picture of fewer leaks and fewer washings.  Let’s start with the properties of wool and what makes it the perfect choice for diapering.



Wool Covers Are:

  • Breathable
  • Renewable
  • Absorbent
  • Water Resistant
  • Antibacterial
  • Neutralizes Urine

How does wool work?
Wool is made up of tiny overlapping cuticles that repel water – kind of like shingles on a roof.  These tiny “shingles” along with the natural lanolin it is coated with, which is oil naturally secreted by the sheep’s skin, is what makes wool water resistant.  Wool can also absorb up to 30% of its weight in liquid before feeling damp. This trifecta makes wool the perfect cover for you cloth diapers.  Which is probably why my grandmother and yours truly used them for so many years!

Another VERY important property of wool is that it breathes.  The fact that wool can breathe allows for the baby’s skin to have fewer rashes or even help to heal a rash and keeps the skin much cooler.  Is is completely renewable and when environmental friendly dyes are used on the yarn and the animals are raised in a loving environment, wool covers are a far better choice for our Earth as well.

What’s the catch?
Wool has to be hand washed.  Seems like a very small catch for all those benefits listed above, but it can be very intimidating when you have paid so much for your amazingly cute wool covers and you don’t want to ruin them.  Fear not…you will do fine!

  • First of all IF your wool cover gets damp from pee, simply turn it inside out and let it air dry, not over a heater vent and not in the sun…just simple air.  When dry you will find your cover to be clean and sweet smelling again because the lanolin in the wool is antibacterial and neutralizes the urine.  AWESOME right?!
  • After about a week you will need to wash your cover and after 2 weeks you will need to re-lanolize your cover.  Below are some instructions on how I wash and lanolize my wool.  There are about as many ways to wash and lanolize wool as there are moms and babies but the following is my method. It will seem complicated until you do it once or twice. Then you will undoubtedly find the wool love.

Washing and Lanolizing Wool

  • Fill your sink, bowl or wash basin with luke warm water and either a cap full of wool wash or roll your wool wash bar under the running water to make your water soapy.  Luke warm water is water that is too warm to drink and too cold for a bath.
  • Turn your wool inside out and let it “hang out” in the lovely bath you just made for it.  If you have any trouble spots, just rub your bar on that spot or a very soft bristled tooth brush (Gently! Wool remembers how you treated it when it was wet and holds it against you when it dries.)
  • After about 20 minutes dump your water and let your wool “hang out” in a new bowl of water that is soap/wash free, Gentle swish it just to rinse it.  I let my woolies hang out in between doing other things around the house.
  • Drain your woolies but do not wring them…just gently squeeze some excess water from them so they aren’t dripping
  • Again fill your bowl, sink or wash basin with luke warm water only and then in a baby food jar add one pea size drop of lanolin, one squirt of baby wash and VERY HOT water, return the lid to the jar and shake vigorously. You will now have a lanolin/wash mixture that is cloudy and ready to add to your clean water.
  • Add your wool to this lanolin water and let them “hang out” for at least 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes to even hours later, remove your wool from their “bath” and gently squeeze the excess water so they aren’t dripping and lay them on a towel.
  • Roll your towel up like a sushi roll with your woolies, gently pressing out the water.
  • Lay your wool flat and let them air dry over night. In the morning they will be clean, soft and sweet smelling.

I repeat this process every 2 weeks depending on how often I use my wool.  My night time wool is used a lot, so washing once a week and lanolizing every 2 weeks after washing is perfect.  If you notice some wicking or leaking through your wool, it might be time to wash and relanolize.  The lanolin is the key to your wool being water resistant.

sheepish grins solid lanolinFavorite Wool Products

Ok, on your mark, get set, go wool!  You truly can do this.  Please feel free to reach out and ask any wool questions you have. I am always happy to help a new wool convert!

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