Monday, January 23, 2012

Cloth | How to lanolize your wool covers

Initially I thought I would start with the basics of cloth diapering, like type, quantity, washing, laundry soap, etc., but I've been getting so many questions about wool lately, that I thought it might be more helpful to start with how I lanolize my wool covers. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is something I forgot to cover.
But first...

How to know if it's time to wash your wool cover:
1. Does it smell bad?
2. Is it dingy?
3. Do the leg holes seem a bit stretched out?

I wash mine about once every month, and usually smell is the best indicator that it's time. 

Now to the lanolizing...

1. Take your soiled wool cover + wool wash + lanolin + wash basin + small glass jar w/lid, and find a convenient surface to work on.

2. Pour roughly a couple teaspoons of wool wash into the bottom of your basin. I eyeball this, and adjust the amount based on how many covers I'm washing at a time and how soiled they are.

3. Fill the wash basin with tepid water & swish gently with your hand to make sure all of the wool wash is mixed. Wool reacts badly to extreme temperatures, so it's very important to monitor the water temperature as it comes out of your faucet. In the warmer months, it's easy to achieve the right temperature by filling your wash basin with water and letting it sit over night. In this case, add your wool wash the next morning & swish to mix well.

4. Add 1 or 2 wool covers to your mixture and gently plunge & squeeze until they are saturated. Never wring or agitate your wool covers

5. Let your covers sit for 15 + minutes. Washing my wool covers is normally an all-morning project. I come back to the covers several times and plunge and flip them a few times, just to make sure that they've been able to release all the dirt. However, if you're in a hurry, you don't need to let them soak for longer than 15 minutes.

6. Gently squeeze your wool covers and remove them from the wash basin and set aside. At this point I sometimes empty my wool wash mixture and make a new one. But I only do this if my covers were really dirty, like if Seb sat in a pile of dirt with just his wool cover on.

7. Take your glass jar and fill with about 1 cup of water. Microwave it or heat your water until it is steaming or almost boiling. Essentially you want it to be very hot. 

8. Add a daub (see above picture) of lanolin to the hot water, put the lid on, and using a hand towel around the jar, shake it until the lanolin is dissolved. A tip on choosing your lanolin: I was told by the owner of Sustainablebabyish that you should go with solid lanolin, avoiding the liquid versions. She recommended Sheepish Grins, which is sold at Sustainablebabyish, and which I currently use. I started with Lansinoh Nipple Cream, but they changed the product slightly, and it is now very very bad. Several months of failed lanolizing with Lansinoh's new product caused awful stains in the crotch of my off-white wool covers. If you have the older version (mine is from 2010), it should be safe to use.

9. Pour the lanolin/water mixture into the wash basin (your wash basin still contains your wool wash mixture), and mix gently with your hand.

10. Re-submerge your wool covers and gently plunge & squeeze.

11. Leave your wool covers in the wash basin with the lanolin & wool wash mixture for at least 30 minutes, occasionally plunging and rotating your covers to make sure that the lanolin penetrates the entire cover.

12. Remove covers, gently squeeze (never wring!) to remove as much water as possible, and place on a large towel. Fold the towel over the covers, and gently, but with pressure, roll the towel over the covers, thus squeezing out as much water as possible. Once I've finished rolling, I place all my weight, with my knees on the roll, to get as much water out as I can.

13. After using the towel to sop up excess water, lay flat to dry, or for quicker drying place on top of cups or jars. I put them on jars, and it usually takes about 36 to 48 hours for them to dry.


UPDATE* You can get Sheepish Grins solid lanolin here.


  1. This is so helpful! I forgot -- did you say that you recommend wool for all the time, or just at night?

  2. hey dawn! we love using wool all the time, but it is 1) expensive, and 2) although i don't have first-hand experience with wool during newborn days, i feel like you would have to have at least 4-5+ wool covers since newborn poo is runny and leaks out more often than with older babies + the drying time factor. for both of the reasons i mentioned, we plan to use wool at night with baby #2 and thirsties PUL covers for daytime. this will cut our costs since we already have a plethora of thirsties covers. in an ideal world where i could have 5+ wool covers at any given time for my babies, i would without a doubt do wool 100% of the time. hope this helps!