When you make the choice to try wool, there are a few items that are specialized to wool care that you will want to purchase to have on hand. These include a wool shaver, (either battery powered or pumice stone) solid lanolin, (Lansinoh nipple cream is 100% lanolin or you can purchase it in jars especially for wool care) and wool wash (whether it is a delicate wash, baby wash, or specially formulated wool wash that contains lanolin).
The first thing you will want to do when you get your new wool is to wash it and make sure it has a nice lanolin base so that it functions properly. Lanolin is what helps wool to be waterproof. It is a naturally produced waxy substance that helps a sheep to repel water when it rains. It is rendered from shorn wool, so no sheep are actually harmed in its production. Lanolin converts the ammonia in your child’s urine into water (which evaporates as the wool dries) and salt (which crystallizes in the wool fibers until the next wash). While wool that is used overnight might have a urine smell to it while wet, once dry it shouldn’t smell. When your wool starts to smell when dry, you know that it is time to wash and lanolize again.
When you think of wool and wool care, you need to think of your own hair. The more you abuse it with curling irons, hair dryers, and product, the worse your hair starts to look. With wool you have to watch out for felting. Felting is when the cuticles of the wool open up and tangle with other fibers. When you are making an up cycled wool soaker, you intentionally felt the wool to make it thicker and more “bulletproof”, yet with other wool you want to make sure you care for it properly so that you don’t felt the fibers making the item smaller and less stretchy. Felting occurs when heat, moisture and friction combine. You can felt a wool piece if you allow your mobile child to move around in a soaked diaper, or you can felt a piece by improperly caring for that item.
The following are instructions on how to properly care for your wool to get the best performance from it while also making sure it lasts.
1. Make sure that you have a water temperature that is slightly warmer than luke warm. Not hot and not cold. I always like to think of it as the temperature I would make a bottle for a baby, about body temperature. You will want to try and stay as close to this temperature throughout the entire washing and lanolizing process as drastic changes in temperature can also cause felting in your wool, known as shock felting.
9. Stir the mixture, or shake if you are using a jar. Alternate adding a small amount of water and soap until your mixture resembles whole milk and does not have any yellow lanolin that floats to the surface.
10. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then mix in a basin with warm water until you reach the same temperature your wet wool is at. Take care when adding your lanolin mixture because drastic temperature change could cause the emulsified lanolin to separate.
Take your wet piece of wool and lay it on a dry towel. Roll the towel up with the wool inside and apply pressure to get as much moisture out of the item as possible.
This tutorial was submitted by the ever so gracious Megan Ogren. She is a very talented mother of 3 that helps us all out in the circle with hard water washing issues and wool questions. Megan, is also a leader in training for the Real Diaper Association. Look for her accreditation soon!