Wool can hold 30% of its weight in liquid before it even starts to feel wet! You might think it’s hard to take care of, expensive and hot. It’s NOT. Promise. I’m going to bust a few myths and show you how to wash and lanolize wool. Let’s get started!
MYTH: Wool is hot! I can’t use it in the summer! TRUTH: Wool is actually one of the coolest fabrics you can put on your baby. TPU/PUL covers will keep heat and moisture next to the skin which can actually heat things up!
Unlike synthetic fabrics, wool breaths. This means that it will actually pull moisture away from the body and evaporate it. Think about how a fan works. The fan is not actually cooling the temperature of a room, instead it works by blowing air across the skin and evaporating sweat. The more sweat is evaporated the cooler you feel. Wool evaporates moisture, the more evaporated, the cooler the bum.
*SUPER HEAVY WETTER TIP* If you want an even drier bum in the morning, leave the pj’s off and the wool uncovered! Let the air get to it. It will be able to evaporate moisture more effectively and therefor keep things even drier. If you still want little one’s skin covered use wool shorties in the summer or wool longies in the winter or in an air conditioned room.
MYTH: Wool has to be babied and it costs a lot! TRUTH: As long as you don’t put wool in the dryer, it’s pretty hard to hurt. It only needs to be washed every few weeks to a month. Wool is naturally antimicrobial. The lanolin on it will react with the urine as it air dries and actually neutralize it. It will continue to do this until all the lanolin is used up, that’s the point the cover starts to smell even when it is dry. You might also notice that it starts to not be as waterproof at this point. That is how you know it’s time to clean and lanolize again
As for it being expensive, yes it does cost more for a wool cover than a regular PUL/TPU cover. But you will need MANY TPU/PUL covers. You only need a few wool covers to use them full time. Wool is also tuff and made to last and last. With proper care you can absolutely use the same wool for ALL of your children. Then you can also get a decent resale price when you are done using it.
Interlock vs Knit Wool
My favorite interlock wool covers are HumBird and Truly Charis. For knit, it’s Rox + Rumble, which was recently purchased by Truly Charis and is now called Truly Rox. Finally, I totally have a huge love for upcycled wool pieces as well.
Interlock wool is made from wool yarn that is machine knitted together with very tiny, tight stitches. Interlock wool is often thicker and more waterproof that knit wool. Both the HumBird and Truly Charis interlock is soft and stretchy.
Knit wool is also knitted on a machine, but with looser more breathable stitches. I personally find it to be softer and stretchier than interlock. And while not as bulletproof as interlock, it is more breathable and very suitable for day use and at night for lighter wetters.
Upcycled wool means you basically take an existing wool clothing piece like a wool sweater and give it a new life as wool pants, covers, or Bernie Sanders Inauguration gloves. 100 % wool blends will work best. And something merino will work great as it is soft and not scratchy.
How do you care for wool?
First, a few tips…
Wool isn’t washed the same as your other cloth diapers. Wash it, lanolize it, air dry it and wear it…that’s it. NEVER put it in the dryer…Never…that is unless your Barbie is looking for a cute new wool piece to wear.
Interlock wool can usually be machine washed. Wash on gentle or a wool cycle if you have it. Use cold water as hot can damage the wool. Please note that many manufacturers of wool products still recommend hand washing for the longest life of the wool. Please use care and common sense when deciding how to wash your wool. It may be useful to check out the group for that brand to see how others have had success with washing.
How to Wash & Lanolize Wool Covers and other wool pieces:
- You will need some place to let it soak. I use my bathroom sink and plug the drain. But I’ve also used a bucket and my big, old kitchen pot. For smaller wool pieces like soakers, you can use a gallon zip lock bag as well.
- A small container to mix the lanolin in. I use the peri bottle they gave me in the hospital. You know…the little squirt bottle they gave for your lady parts.
- Lanolin. I have heard some people use Lanisoh Lanoline (nipple cream). I personally found it hard to get it to mix properly. I prefer to use scented lanolin that is made for this purpose. Love Spell is my favorite scent. Yum! (However, any brand of 100% lanolin will work.)
- Soap. You need the soap to get the lanolin to emulsify (the act of getting two different things to mix together). I use Euculan but any gentle type baby shampoo or soap will work. I prefer the Euculan because it is a no rinse wool wash. If you use a shampoo or other soap be sure to do a quick rinse after you are done.
1: Fill your sink or container with enough water to have the wool covered. The water temperature should be tepid (not hot and not cold). Too hot and you risk shocking the wool. This can mean loss of stretch or even shrinkage. If the water is too cold, the lanolin will turn back to a solid and won’t mix properly.
2. Add about a half capful of Euculan or a squirt of baby shampoo. Any soap will work to emulsify the lanolin. (That means it will allow it to mix with the water). If you are doing more than one piece at a time, use bit more.
3. Now take your container (peri bottle in my case) and add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Lanolin per piece of wool. For me, I find the 1/4 tsp is plenty. Some people like the greater amount (even up to 1 tsp) as it makes the wool feel sticky. That sticky feeling is excess lanolin. I’m not really sure that it does anything more to make the wool MORE waterproof than the lesser amount. I think it’s more piece of mind for the parent. Next, add small amount of the soap, just a quick splash. Finally, add HOT water to your container until it is almost full. To recap, you now have lanolin, a splash of soap and HOT water in a container. Replace lid.
5. Shake the container like a crazy woman. Once everything is mixed together, squirt or empty your container into the sink. Swish around to make sure it is thoroughly mixed.
6. Add the wool (I prefer inside out) and gently squeeze (no twisting) with your hands until it is fully soaked with water and lanolin mixture.
7. If you have any stains, pinch the spot repeatedly. Rubbing or scrubbing will felt the wool which damages it and reduces stretch of the fabric. The pinching should allow the stain to be released from the fibers.
8. Let everything it sit for 30 minutes.
9. Allow sink to drain (or dump out your container) and have lanolin rich water go through wool. Fold in halves and push water out with your hands. Do not twist as this will cause felting of the wool (which also makes it fuzzier looking).
10. Two ways to dry: One way is to lay cover in a towel, fold into halves and lay on floor. Stand on the folded towel and cover to remove the most amount of water. The other way is if you have a well-made, sturdy cover (usually safe for interlock wool), you can spin dry on the delicate cycle in the washer.
11. Once water is out, reshape and lay flat to dry. FYI, drying racks will leave lines and try not to dry in direct sunlight. It can fade some dyed wool.
— You may have to lanolize brand new wool more than once. If you find that they are leaking and the absorbency under it isn’t totally soaked, try another lano soak. Think of it like coats of paint. Sometimes you need to do more than one in the beginning.
— If you have wool clothing that you find to be a bit itchy. Give it a lano bath. Since you aren’t expecting it to be waterproof don’t go overboard with the lanolin amount. You will find that this makes the wool itchy free.
That’s it. It will be clean, fully lanolized and ready for you to use for a few weeks again. Or until it becomes soiled obviously.
If you have questions about cloth diapering at night, check out the rest of the night series:
There are other ways of lanolizing wool. Do you have another favorite method that works for wool?
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek as well as hundreds of small businesses during that time. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.