Wool does require special care, but it’s really not a big deal! Wool is a truly remarkable natural fiber, amazingly effective as a diaper cover because it can absorb 30% of its own weight before feeling damp. Its natural lanolin gives wool an antibacterial, moisture-resistant barrier, allowing circulation of air that allows urine to dissipate and distribute more effectively in the diaper.
You’ll want to avoid putting a urine-soaked wool cover in the diaper pail. Even if it needs to be washed, let it dry out. Soaking in urine may leach out the color and cause bleeding onto your diapers. In addition, it could easily get tossed into regular diaper laundry, which is a disaster in most cases, resulting in stiff, hard, shrunken wool. Always be careful with vibrant or dark wool colors, especially red. Wash them separately and squeeze them dry with dark or old towels.
If it doesn’t smell, your wool probably doesn’t need washing. Adequately lanolized wool covers shouldn’t need to be washed for about two to three weeks unless they feel damp after only a short time over a diaper or if they become soiled with feces.
Finally – time to wash! If the wrap is only urine-soaked, rinse it under cool running water to remove residues. Then soak it in lukewarm water with a touch of liquid lanolin and Dr. Bonner’s castile soap, Eucalan wool wash for about 10 minutes, and then agitate gently by hand. A word of warning: the less processed your wool is, the more it will smell like wet sheep when it’s wet. This is natural and will not linger after the item, dries, especially if you use a deliciously scented wash. (*Don’t use Woolite or other commercial woolwashes because it will wash the lanolin right off and your covers will leak, and there is a potential for rashes with those more harsh products.)
Gently squeeze out – don’t wring! — the excess water, then roll up the cover in a towel and step on it to get the bulk of the moisture out. Extreme changes in temperature as well as harsh agitation will mat the fibers together, resulting in felting and shrinking of your wool. Be very careful then and use extreme gentleness with handling wool. Lay it flat to dry or put in the dryer on gentle/cool. If the wool cover is hand knit, do not put it in the dryer unless manufacturer’s directions say it is ok.
If the wrap is poopy, wash the poopy part by hand with lanolin and Dr. Bonner’s castile soap, baby shampoo or other wool wash bars or liquids, and then soak as directed above. Do not rub a wool wash bar directly on the woolen item; lather your hands and then apply that to the cover.
Guest blog by PovertyJane.