How to Lanolize a Wool Diaper Cover

June18

Wool is an amazing and fantastic fabric to use as a diaper cover for a baby.  I have found it to be bullet-proof, meaning that it doesn’t leak, even during the wettest of nights.  Wool is able to absorb 30% of its weight in water before it even begins to feel wet.  There are many, many other fantastic properties, but I’ll go into that in another post.

One thing about wool covers is that they do require some care.  They don’t have to be washed with each use, which is a nice feature.  The trade off for that is the fact that they take some attention about once a month.  How do you know when it is time to care for the diaper?  It will either start to take on a bit of a urine smell or it will begin to leak.

This process is called lanolizing a diaper.  Lanolin is the waxy/oily substance that sheep produce from their skin.  If you have ever felt a raw fleecce off a sheep, you know that it has a greasy feel to it.  That grease is lanolin.  The beautiful thing is that lanolin does the same thing for sheep that we want it to do for our babies.  The lanolin prevents the wet from seeping into the wool so that the sheep can stay nice and dry.  In our case, the lanolin keeps the wet from soaking out of the diaper.

You can get lanolin from a pharmacy or a health food store.  You can use either solid or liquid, it doesn’t matter which.

Fill up a sink with enough warm (not super hot) water to cover your diaper cover.  It is possible to do mulitple diaper covers or longies in a batch, but I wouldn’t consider doing more than 4 at a time.  You want to make sure that the lanolin can get into the fibers of the garmet.

Put your diaper into the water and let it soak for about 15 minutes.  This lets the water get into the individual fibers so that when you introduce the lanolin it will be able to reach through the entire fabric.

Add a tablespoon (two if you are doing 4 covers) of wool wash to your sink of water and work it into the cover.  You want to get any urine or dirt out of the cover that is in there.  However, remember that felting takes place with heat, soap and agitation.  A gentle working in of the soap will clean the cover and do no damage, just make sure that the water is warm and not hot.

Drain the sink and then squeeze any excess water out of the cover.

Fill the sink back up (just enough to cover the diapers) with warm water and place the covers back into the sink.

Fill up a cup with water and microwave the water until it is boiling (if you want to avoid the microwave, you can just boil water and put it into a cup.

Add a teaspoon of wool wash to the water and mix it in.

Measure out a teaspoon of lanolin PER DIAPER COVER and add it to the mixture.

Mix in the lanolin.  This should form an emulsion, and the mixture should start to turn white.

Continue mixing until all lanolin has been added and the entire mixture is white.  Any lanolin that has not been emulsified into the mixture will not incorporate into the fibers of the cover.

Pour this mixture into your sink of water and covers.  Work the lanolin mixture into the diaper covers using your hands.  If there is more than one cover, make sure to work the lanolin into each of them and rearrange the order of the covers as you go.  You will feel the grease working into the fibers of the fabric.

Allow the covers to sit in the lanolin for at least 15 minutes.  I let mine sit overnight to ensure that they soak up as much lanolin as possible.

Wring any excess water out of the covers and then hang them out on a line to dry.  If it is winter, you can roll the covers up in dry towels to dry.  It should take about a day or two to get them all the way dry.

Repeat this process when your covers start to leak or take up smell.

It really is a very simple process that will keep the wool in your life happy.

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