Updated on October 1, 2016
How To Lanolize Wool Covers
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So you’re thinking about wading into the wonderful world of wool, but you have no idea how to use it? This was me just a few short weeks ago. Now if I can learn to use wool (and use it with great success), surely you can too! Don’t be scared! You’ve probably heard horror stories about mothers-in-law trying to “help” with diaper laundry and washing and shrinking expensive woolies. Or maybe you’ve heard the one of the well meaning husband who grabbed that damp wool cover from the drying rack and tossed it in the dryer on high to save time. This doesn’t have to happen to you and your beloved wool. Yes, wool needs special care, but that’s no reason to avoid it like the plague! The very first thing you need to learn to do in order to use wool covers is to lanolize them! What on earth does that mean? I’m going to tell you!
Wool is a really great natural option for a breathable yet waterproof cloth diaper cover. You may have heard that fitteds and wool are the ultimate overnight solution for those who have tried everything else to no avail. But what makes wool waterproof? Does it arrive from the store or WAHM ready to go on the bum? The answer to that question is no, it does not. In order to use a wool cover AND have it be waterproof, you’ll need to lanolize it first. What does it mean to lanolize wool? Lanolizing wool is the process of applying lanolin to the inside of a wool cover in order to prevent moisture from pushing through the wool to the outside. Lanolin is the naturally occurring oily secretion from sheep’s skin. On a sheep, it coats the wool and protects the sheep’s skin from moisture. On a wool diaper cover it serves the same function. It will coat the wool fibres in the cover and prevent moisture from escaping. The benefit of it is that it does this without eliminating the breathability of a natural wool cover.
How does one go about lanolizing a wool cover? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. No, you’re not going to take pure lanolin and massage it directly into the wool cover! It’s not that messy! To start off, you’ll need the right supplies. The first thing is pure lanolin. You can purchase lanolin online or through a health food store. The second thing you’ll need is wool wash. That’s a detergent specifically made for washing wool clothing. I use Eucalan Delicate Wash. If you don’t have wool wash and need to get lanolizing right away, you can use baby wash instead. Once you have those supplies, you’re ready to lanolize your first wool cover.
To prepare for the lanolizing process, you’ll need a few things on hand. You’ll want a glass jar, a good sized towel, a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, your lanolin, and your wool wash. Now you’re ready!
Step One: Fill the jar about one third to half full of hot water. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of lanolin for each cover you’re going to be lanolizing at one time. If you’re lanolizing just one cover, you’ll add 1/2 a teaspoon of lanolin. If you’re lanolizing three covers, you’ll add 1.5 teaspoons of lanolin. You’ll also want to add a few drops of wool wash. Then you’ll stir it up until the lanolin completely dissolves and the mixture becomes cloudy and there’s no oily lanolin floating on the top. This will take a handful of minutes.
Step Two: Fill the sink with lukewarm water. If you’re only doing one cover, you can use the bathroom sink, but if you need to do more than one, you may need a slightly larger sink (like the kitchen sink). Pour the lanolin mixture into the sink of water and give it a little stir.
Step Three: Turn the wool cover(s) inside out and submerge it in sink. You want to press the wool down so it’s under the water, and swish it back and forth gently. You can also flip it over so that both sides have been submerged and swished. Leave it in the sink for up to two hours. You want to leave the cover in this mixture for at least fifteen minutes, but you can leave in there for up to two hours. The longer the better, so if you have time go for the full two hours. During those two hours you can periodically go back and press the cover down gently and flip it over.
Step Four: Take the cover(s) out of the water and let it drip some (do not wring or twist the cover). Place the cover flat on the towel, and roll the cover up in the towel. Press firmly as you’re rolling to help remove the moisture from the cover. Unroll the towel and lay the cover flat to air dry. It will take 2 to 3 days for the cover to be completely dry.
Now your wool cover is waterproof and ready to use! You will find that it feels a bit sticky on the inside the first time you use it, but that stickiness will dissipate as you use it.
If you’re itching to try wool covers on your baby, check out HumBird’s beautiful lineup of woolies (the wool cover used in this post is from HumBird). You can also find all the supplies you need to lanolize wool at Lagoon Baby in Canada and Nicki’s Diapers in the USA.