Friday, February 12, 2010

Washing Wool Diaper Covers

When I decided to start cloth diapering, I had no idea really where to begin. My mom gave me everything she had from my brother and I when we were babies, and the journey began.
Despite inheriting the rubber pants my mom used on my brother and I (as well as all the cotton prefolds and flat diapers); I was determined not to use the rubber pants! I used rubber pants to help potty train one of the children in my daycare and I knew using them day in and day out on my infant wasn’t what I had in mind when I decided to switch to cloth.

After some online research I decided on using Thirsties diaper covers. Then a friend of mine who is an avid knitter came across a wool soaker pattern online. Fortunately she thought of me and gifted me with a homemade soaker, I love it! Although I do not use wool every day, I do use it frequently and love the look/feel/convenience. I have a second homemade soaker from her, and use it even more often than the first. I love how waterproof it is, how it doesn’t require constant washing, and it doesn’t smell!

If you know someone who knits, patterns are available online, but there are also plenty of cute soakers and “longies” available to buy. Kelly’s Closet also offers some wool products. If you choose to try wool, please know it cannot be washed with your regular cloth diapers. Washing wool it is NOT rocket science, in fact it is very easy!

Here is what works for me:

Step 1: Turn your wool inside out

Step 2: Warm water in the kettle until it is nearly boiling. I don’t boil my water as I don’t want to “felt” my wool.

Step 3: Get your supplies ready. You need a lidded container (I use a recycled applesauce jar), some lanolin (I use Lansinoh), some liquid dish soap or baby soap, a medium bowl (I often use a 4c. Pyrex measuring cup) and a large bath towel.

Step 4: Pour hot water into container and add a squirt of lanolin into the hot water. It will be a lump floating on top at first, and then will begin to melt.

Step 5: Add 1-2 drops of liquid dish soap or liquid baby soap to the water. The lanolin will immediately start to emulsify and turn the water a milky white. Put on the lid and shake well. I usually have to use a dishtowel around my jar-the water is that hot.

Step 6: Pour the contents of the jar into a bowl. Add two more jars of warm water to the hot. The water temperature now should be “comfortble”. Gently put your wool into the bowl and swish around until the entire thing is wet. Let it soak at least 20 minutes. I do this while getting breakfast ready, and then return once we are done eating. It won’t hurt it to sit longer.

Step 7: Drain the water and gently turn your wool right side out. Fold the wool over onto itself and press (squeeze) as much water as you can from the wool using your own body weight (NEVER wring wool). Lay the wool flat on a large towel and roll the towel. When you unroll it, you may need to pull your soaker a bit to get it back to shape. It may look short and fat.

Step 8: Once your wool looks back to “normal” lay on a towel to dry. It will feel “tacky” and that is ok-good in fact. Once dry (give it at least a day…do not put out in the sun, do NOT put in the dryer) it can be used several times before it will require washing again.

How can you tell when the wool needs to be washed?
If it has food stuck on it (I use mine like ‘shorts’ quite often). If it starts to leak (very rare). Or, if the wool starts to smell (also rare). I’m typically able to use my wool soakers 5-10 times between “washes.”
This is a post I did for "The Cloth Diaper Whisperer". They had changed a couple of things I originally wrote, and above is the "original". To see my guest post, click here.

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