That unfortunately is a common misconception about wool diaper covers. Wool covers seem to be the mysterious diaper cover, no one really knows someone who uses them, or if they do that person is ultra granola crunchy. But everyone hears how amazing they are. But how do you wash wool? Isn’t it scratchy? How is it waterproof? What’s lanolin? and the questions go on and on.
I’ll be upfront, I really really really (did I emphasize that enough 😀 ) had to be talked into using a wool cover. For those of you who have been following our blog for a while, know we had a huge night time leaking issue and this is when we finally broke down and accepted the idea of trying wool. And I mean “accepted the idea of trying wool.” Right up to the first morning after using it I was extremely hesitant. Anyway, I digress, and that’s in a previous post.
So we use wool and love it, especially at night. But how do you take care of it? In my opinion I’ll wash a wool cover over a pocket diaper any day. The length of time (which is all waiting) is much longer, but it takes maybe 3 minutes in total and you’re left with super soft hands thanks to the lanolin.
You only need to wash wool about once a month. Yup, that’s right about once a month. Unless baby poops in it of course. You’re probably thinking to yourself, but it gets pee’d in, why would I not wash the pee out?? Well, wool that has been lanolized is amazing. The lanolin turns the pee into salt, so your wool could stink of pee in the morning, you hang that thing up to dry, by the time you go to grab it in the evening, wool is dry and there is no smell. You could stick your nose in it and there will be no smell. The only reason the wool needs to be washed is that over time the salt builds up and when you get too much of a build up is when you’ll get a leak. So, as long as you aim to wash and lanolize about every 3-4 weeks, you should be good.
So how do you wash it? Fill up a large bowl (we use a giant mixing bowl) with lukewarm water and add a few squirts of baby wash per wool item you’re washing. Mix it up and add your wool cover. Squish it around a bit, then rinse it under the tap with lukewarm water. The reason you want to use a bowl rather than your sink is that the wool fibers that get left behind from washing can clog up your drain pretty bad, so unless you enjoy unclogging a drain, we suggest you use a bowl.
Next is the lanolizing part. Mix 1 tsp of lanolin and 1 tsp of baby wash (per wool cover) in one cup of boiling water. The baby soap helps the lanolin to emulsify (in case you were wondering). Add this mixture to your large bowl filled with lukewarm water and mix around. Add your wool cover (inside out) and massage the lanolin in for a minute or two. This is the part where your hands get super moisturized. Leave it overnight preferably, but at least 4 hours. Every so often, go back and massage the lanolin mixture in. If you’re lanolizing longies, turn them inside out and drape the legs over the edge of the bowl, you don’t want the legs lanolized. Lanolin will attract dirt.
Before I go on, you’re probably wondering where in the world do you get lanolin from? Well, you can order it off of various websites in it’s natural form. And if you have a ton of wool, that is the most cost effective. But if you have just one or two, you can pick up a tube of Lansinoh (or other brand) from the grocery store. Lansinoh is 100% lanolin, so it will work perfect.
OK, back to the washing. Now your wool is lanolized. Dump the water (I fed my grass outside with it), and put your wool in the washer to do a spin only cycle. You can roll it up in a towel to get the excess water out, but we really do not recommend that option as the towel will remove a lot of lanolin. When the spin cycle is over, hang it to dry — be patient, this will take 8-12 hours — and it will be good to go for another month.
So it may seem that wool is a little high maintenance, but once you go through this once, you will realize how easy it really is. Plus your hands will be so soft.
We offer a few different types of wool covers in our store, we have traditional diaper covers made out of upcycled wool sweaters, we offer wool interlock longies, as well as custom soakers and longies too. So don’t be afraid of wool, wool is your friend! And for those of you who use disposables and are having leaking issues overnight, throw a wool cover over top of the diaper and you will get leak free mornings.