Taking care of wool, is often seen as scary, and too much work by cloth diapering mamas. The truth is that wool is one of the easiest cloth diapering cover options available. A well lanolized cover can go 4-6 weeks between washings, unless it gets soiled. Wool is also amazing because it’s super breathable, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and remarkably waterproof while absorbing up to 30% of its weight in moisture. Wool is both cool in the summer and warm in the winter making it a wonderful choice for a diaper cover year round.
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.
2. Thoroughly wet your wool item in a basin full of plain water.
3. Add a wool safe wash to the water and gently massage the soapy water into the wool. Make sure the product is safe for use on wool as some items will cause felting due to chemicals in the product.
4. Let the item soak in the soapy water for a few minute to break up the dirt that has gotten into the fibers. Usually a 5 minute soak is perfect.
5. If you have any stubborn stains or if your child has soiled the wool, take a wool wash bar or a little bit of liquid wool wash and gently massage it into the area. Make sure you don’t rub too vigorously. Allow the item to soak a few more minutes to work the particles to the surface.
6. Drain the soapy water and run warm water as close to the temperature of your wash water as possible. Rinse your item until the water is clear.
7. Take your solid lanolin and add it to hot water in either a deep bowl or glass jar with lid. Generally I like to use 1 teaspoon per item, unless it has a good lanolin base and then I can get by with a little less.
8. Allow the lanolin to melt in the water and then add a small amount of soap to emulsify the lanolin. You can choose to use a wool wash bar that has been grated or cut into small pieces, a liquid wool wash, or baby wash for this.
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.
11. Add your wool items (turning the item inside out will allow the most lanolin to be deposited in the wet zone of the wool, which is preferable) and allow to soak anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
12. Drain the water and gently squeeze out the excess water, taking care not to wring the wool.
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.
13. Lay out the item flat in a well ventilated area, out of direct sunlight to dry. Turning the item over and inside/ right side out will allow it to dry quicker.
You will also notice that as your child wears their wool, it will have fuzzies and pills that form on the piece that aren’t aesthetically pleasing. The easiest way to deal with this is to use a wool shaver. While it is a little scary to take something with a blade to the wool that you just purchased, it is really very simple. You will want to place your piece of wool onto a firm surface and spread it flat. Gently glide your wool shaver over your wool. I find that a small circular motion is best, but honestly, there is no right or wrong way as long as you make sure to cover the entire surface. If you are using a battery powered wool shaver, make sure to clean out the collection area frequently and to clean the blades after every use to ensure they continue to function properly. If your wool needs to be lanolized as well as shaved, it puts less wear on your shaver to shave the wool prior to lanolizing.
While this process might seem intimidating at first, it is really simple and only takes a few minutes of your time every few weeks.
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!
Prefolds are pretty popular and versatile. Most CD moms have or have had some prefolds in their rotation. One thing about prefolds is that they can get pretty bulky, especially around the legs. If only they were made with elastic for a better fit. Turns out, they can be!
Being thrifty and/or frugal and/or creative and/or competitive, I decided to make a fitted out of a prefold for myself. I found this tutorial online. http://cloth-crazy.blogspot.com/2009/04/prefold-to-fitted.html
As I was following the tutorial, I quickly knew it was not what I was looking for so I made some modifications. The result was actually simpler and better* (see note below). I knew I had to share it with my cloth diaper community.
Luckily, I was not the only one with a similar dilemma. Jessica's mom Jeanie graciously donated her space at her sewing shop. We had 7 moms show up eager to convert their prefolds. Few had sewing experience. One mom had not taken the machine out of the box! This might sound discouraging but the conversion is so easy that it proves you don't need any experience.
After 2 hours of sewing, chatting, laughing, and frustration we all successfully converted a prefold into a fitted. We agreed it was easier than anticipated.
*Note: Everyone followed the tutorial based on my modification. Drying time was the biggest factor leading to the modification. With the original tutorial, the extra 2 layers of cotton made for longer drying time. With the modification, you had the same layers of absorbancy but with a removable booster.
All moms liked the idea of converting at home and saving money. Instead of buying a workhorse fitted (which is a prefold conversion), they just took what they already had and made it new again!
We have another meetup scheduled for July 7th. I hope to make some fleece covers and upcycled longies to go with the prefold fitteds. I'm excited to help moms with their CD journey.... and to spend another 2 hours talking cloth =)
- Vivian Vargas Boring
The San Diego Real Diaper Circle has two leaders accredited with the Real Diaper Association (RDA)
, Heather McNamara and Rachel Dove. Heather and Rachel handle Circle meetings in the county and organize much of the cloth diaper outreach activities. With cloth diaper use exploding, and some amazing volunteers stepping in to help with a variety of tasks, we'd like to get more people accredited to lead our Circle. What's involved?Circle Leader Role
- lead Circle meetings (we have an outline you can work from)
- teach cloth diaper workshops (we have an outline for that, too!)
- work with Heather and Rachel to determine the direction of the Circle
- assist in administering the SDRDC Facebook group
- start and conduct any outreach or special cloth diaper projects that interest you!!Requirements
- use reusable cloth diapers full-time
- have at least 9 months of experience with cloth diapers
- have 4-5 hours / month available to do classes or other outreach workTraining through the Real Diaper Association
- join the RDA (costs $25/year)
- complete a leader application
- read the book Nonviolent Communication
- participate in Leader Enrichment webinars (optional a couple of times a month when you can make it)
- do a couple of interviews with Heather and Rachel and someone from RDA
Interested? Email Heather
. We'd like to get training started in June.
In May 2012, we conducted an online survey to better understand cloth diapering in San Diego. The goal was to learn more about how people were using cloth diapers, as well as to figure out how to reach more families with better support and education about cloth diapers. 165 families completed the survey, providing us with some interesting findings.
Geography: 45% of survey respondents were from North County San Diego, which tells us we're doing some good outreach in that part of the county. We're also spreading beyond our boundaries, reaching families in the Imperial Valley, Riverside, and Orange County.
Language: Less than 10% of our respondents speak Spanish. This is not representative of San Diego demographics, which tells us that we're not reaching into this community, either due to cultural or language barriers. Our hope is to start offering Real Diaper Circle meetings in Spanish, which may begin to make a difference.
Cloth Diapering Reasons: More than 80% of respondents listed waste reduction as a very important reason they're using cloth diapers, with nearly 65% indicating that cost savings are very important, and nearly 60% of parents coming to cloth diapers to reduce rashes. While many cloth diaper companies work hard to appeal to our aesthetic senses, less than 30% listed that as being very important and more than 35% of you indicated that it wasn't important at all.
Cloth Diaper Learning: More than 50% of respondents report learning about cloth diapers from online blogs and friends. This means that YOU, a cloth diaper user, can have a huge impact on cloth diapering practices, just by telling your family and friends about your experiences and supporting them when it's time for them to start diapering!
Cloth Diaper Laundering: Only 20% of you never line dry your diapers, with more than 40% of you doing it most of the time. As far as cleaning products go, 57% of you use cloth-diaper-specific detergent primarily. 22% occasionally use chlorine bleach (though only 1% use it regularly), 14% occasionally use oxygenated bleach (3% use it regularly), and 64% of you never use any bleach at all.
Diaper Types: Though we had only small percentage of diaper service users respond to the survey, 67% of you report using prefolds and flat style cloth diapers (with 23% using these primarily), despite their reputation as being "old-fashioned." 10% of you even choose pins! 40% of you use wool diaper covers (24% for overnight, 11% during the day, and 5% using them day and night).
Cloth Diaper Commerce: 27% of you are making your own diapers and/or covers, though only 2.4% make all of them yourself. 75% of you participate in the secondary market, buying and selling used cloth diapers.
Daycare: Here's a piece of good news! Of the 24 survey respondents using daycare, only ONE of them reports that their provider won't accept their cloth diapers! Yay for local cloth-diaper-friendly daycare providers!!
Cloth Diaper Support: While 25% of you report never encountering a situation in which you'd use disposable diapers or inserts, the areas where you report most needing support with reusable cloth diapering are: traveling by plane and overnight. Perhaps we should do some upcoming workshops to cover these situations in more detail!
Random Survey Winner: Lynn Thedell, who won an econobum gift pack, courtesy of Rock Easy Diaper Company!
Thank you ALL for participating!!! What else do YOU want to know about local cloth diapering???
Over the past 4 years, one of the most common concerns I hear from parents is that they don't have time for cloth diapers. Now that I'm on baby #2, and have cloth diapered him from birth(in the hospital even), I decided the time cloth diapers take needed to be broken down.
Here are a few circle members washing routines, with how much HANDS ON time cloth diapering takes: (in their own words)
8:00 put diapers in for rinse/soak (took 1 minute)
8:30- add detergent/calgon, start wash (1 min while holding baby!)
9:20- start extra rinse (10 sec or less)
9:40- put in drier, hang pockets (1 min)
10:40- add pockets to fluff them (30 seconds)
(forget about diapers while shopping/ picking up from preschool)
2:00- fold/stuff (8 minutes while talking to my sister on the phone)
Put away when baby got up from nap (2 minutes, including gathering and walking up)
So that's about 14 minutes of my time... And it was a busy day of forgetting about laundry, so it's often done and ready to fold before she's up from morning nap :)
9:42 Start Cold Rinse (1 min to get diapers and put in washer)
10:17 Start Hot Wash w/Soap (30 seconds to add soap and start washer)
11:24 Start Cold Rinse (10 seconds to start rinse)
11:57 Put Diapers in Dryer & Hang 8 items on line (2 mins 30 seconds)
12:57 Origami folded 10 flats, folded 11 wash cloths, and 2 doublers...and put away (8 mins)
Total physical time: 12 mins 10 seconds
Elapsed time: 3 hrs 23 mins
Those are just two members. My routine is pretty much the same, so I'll spare you more times. But you should get the idea! This routine would happen 3-4 days a week if you are washing every other day. That's about 1 hour per week of hands on extra time. Probably about the same amount of time it takes to pack up a kid (or two), get to the store, buy diapers, and come back home.
Now, there is one other thing you may have to add to your time consumption when you cloth diaper. And that comes with the poop. When you start your little one on solid foods, you really want to dump those solid poops in the toilet. If your baby has 'ploppable' poop, then sweet, just plop and go. Sometimes, you have the sticky peanut buttery poop, and a sprayer will come in mighty handy (love mine!) or you might want to use disposable liners (I'm not a fan personally). To be honest, this might add a couple more minutes a week of dealing with poop. (FYI - if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, there's no need for liners, sprayers or plopping poop. Breastfed baby poop is water soluble, and will wash completely out in the washer - EVEN meconium!!)
Cloth diapering is super simple these days! The washing machines of our time are AMAZING! You can do this. We can help.
North County San Diego Real Diaper Circle Leader
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Having a baby at a local hospital? What a great time to ask them to consider supporting cloth diapering! Attached is a letter you can customize and send to any contacts you can make at a hospital -- including your OB/GYN, midwife, nurses, or administrators. The more of these we send, the more attention we'll generate for cloth diapers! Thanks for your help!
Thanks to several volunteers who contributed to this initial list of categories of work we can do in San Diego to get more local babies into cloth diapers. The next step is finding people who have an interest in any of the categories and getting you started with all the support you need to succeed with cloth diaper outreach in that category. Soooo, thoughts? Volunteers? Email Rachel at NCSDDiaperCircle at gmail dot com or Heather at hdellarocca at yahoo dot com. Thanks!
Hospitals (Jennifer N. calling at Balboa), birth centers, midwives – education (English / Spanish); any diaper services working on setting up contracts with maternity departments?
Daycares (introducing cloth diapers, advertising directory, diaper service)
Childbirth Education, doulas – education (English / Spanish) - - meet with them to help us break into new mom community?
Pediatricians – outreach material placement? Business cards?
Diaper parties, local baby planners – (Rachel)
Moms Groups – what do you participate in? can you do classes to the group? Other cloth diaper introduction ideas for this group? (are there some “natural”-centered mom meetup groups?) Are there any big churches that have big moms groups that might be interested?
Breastfeeding support groups -
Fairs – Earth Fair April 22, Oceanside Green Fair late April, Fallbrook baby/health fair, Natural Baby Fair
Military bases and Operation Homefront – Annette? Jennifer?
Waste management – Oceanside Zero Waste Plan (Heather)
Social Services – working with nonprofits / agencies that serve low-income folks to do cloth diaper education and/or help them establish cloth diaper programs
Local brochure work, Spanish translation of materials
Great Cloth Diaper Change – help Julia organize it (where? HEATHER check on USD; Temecula – Deanne?; Rochelle? Linda? South County?)
Publicity – how can we get cloth diapers in the news, radio, TV (Priscilla KUSI connection? Ideas for cloth diaper stories; GCDC)
Fun fundraising / other events? Cloth diaper 1k, Cloth Diaper Park Day, Cloth Diaper Relay, parades, cloth diaper photo shoot fundraiser (Jennifer / Priscilla)? Raffle?
Cloth diaper garage sales (community rec center?) – anyone want to organize a table at the Canyon Crest one?
Today, I submitted the following article to the San Diego Union-Tribune, in response to the AP article published Sunday, 4/17/11 - the very day the San Diego Real Diaper Circle was hosting a hugely successful booth at the San Diego Earth Fair in Balboa Park to introduce cloth diapers to parents. Please support local cloth diaper advocacy and education efforts by sending letters of your own to email@example.com
. Dear Editor:
In the leadup to Earth Day, when people are inclined to think about lifestyle changes to lessen their impact on the environment, one expects to see renewed inquiries into practices (like cloth diapering) most likely to make a difference. So Leanne Italie’s AP article published this past Sunday was very disappointing. Instead of covering the anniversary of single-use throwaway diapers, how much more relevant would a serious inquiry into reusable cloth diapers be at this time of year? How could waste reduction and “Reduce, Reuse” be appropriate for everything EXCEPT for diapers?
The very thesis of the article, that there is some “debate” about which types of diapers make the least impact on the environment, is dead wrong. There is no debate. Everyone is using the same studies. The politically-influenced (consider where the money is) conclusions to the most well-known studies (those published in 2005 and 2008 by the UK’s Environment Agency) completely misrepresent the actual data found in the body of those studies. While they are already flawed in favor of disposable diapers, the data STILL shows that reusable cloth diapers have a 40% LESS impact on the environment than do single-use plastic diapers. (For a thorough review of the topic, see http://whatawaste.info/but-i-heard/flawed-impact-studies-review/
At 9am on Saturday, April 23rd, three locations in San Diego will join hundreds of locations around the world to host the Great Cloth Diaper Change. Participants will be setting a world record for most cloth diapers changed simultaneously. Why do such a thing? Because these parents have discovered that cloth diapers are better for the environment, better for their baby, and better for their wallet. Come see for yourself: http://sdrealdiapercircle.weebly.com
There’s your source for REAL earth-friendly Earth Day coverage.Heather McNamaraSan Diego Real Diaper Circle
LeaderExecutive Director, Real Diaper Association
It would seem to me that a lot of people would be interested in participating in a world record setting event. Especially if all that was involved was changing their baby's diaper. I mean, they have to do it anyway, right? Why not make at least ONE of those diapers count for something!?!Okay, so we've established it's an attractive offer. How do I present it to the appropriate audience? How do I actually find parents of babies in diapers and get them to attend the event (which, by the way, is the Great Cloth Diaper Change, in case you haven't already figured that out)? Our method, to date:1. Try to get a venue that people were going to be at anyway (or that they'd want to go to).
Given the San Diego Zoo's popularity and interest in conservation, we thought they'd be a good partner. Alas, with the $10K pricetag for an event (which apparently Huggies could afford for their "Potty Party"), that wasn't an option. (So much for using the conservation angle).2. Print posters and try to get people to put them up all over town. Even I only managed to do this twice. Who can run in and out of 15 places with 2 little kids in tow?3. Beg our friends. I've already gotten 3 refusals out of the 4 people I asked.4. Work the social media angle. Actually, Facebook and Twitter seem to be fertile ground and we'll continue to work that angle.
Can YOU help spread the word, please? (See San Diego's Great Cloth Diaper Change details here
.)5. Contact leaders of mommy groups in hopes that they'll publicize the event to their groups. No responses from this effort.6. Try to make connections via high-level participants in the event. We're partnering with the local diaper services and hoping that brings us a bunch of participants from their client rosters. We've invited some high-profile witnesses. Ric Anthony is a director of Zero Waste San Diego. Jim Bell is a long-time sustainability expert in San Diego, and past mayoral candidate. Amy Saloner founded and runs Natural Baby Pros, so is well-connected with many parents in San Diego. Perhaps they'll also spread the word to their connections.7. Find a venue with a lot of babies and invite every one of them to attend. Sunday is the EarthFair at Balboa Park here in San Diego. There are typically upwards of 75,000 people at the fair, many of whom will probably be babies, right? The strategy: have COMPELLING handouts to distribute to EVERY person we see walk by with a baby. Ask them to join us in setting a world record the following Saturday. Now, how to make that handout sufficiently compelling???
Well, the event will have food, drinks, giveaways, prizes, and activities for older kids. (We're hoping these features will also make the event attractive to the media.) It's at a beautiful local university and the campus will be mostly ours as students will be on break. ANYONE can participate - even if they don't typically use cloth diapers! They can buy one to try (what a great excuse to try a cloth diaper, no?) or even get one at the event (we'll have some used, but perfectly functional, diapers on hand for this very reason - - as well as some beautiful brand new ones in our giveaways).So, what else? How would YOU go about spreading the word about this event?
This post is part of the Real Diaper Facts carnival hosted by Real Diaper Events, the official blog of the Real Diaper Association. Participants were asked to write about diaper lies and real diaper facts. See the list at the bottom of this post to read the rest of the carnival entries.
This started out as a response to the cloth diaper lies told by Procter & Gamble and turned into a longer rant in response to common objections to cloth diapering. Well, it is what it is.Fact: Cloth diapers use less water than disposable diapers.
Many people have concerns, especially here in southern California, about water usage. Taught years ago by our Colorado relatives, my family uses this motto in the bathroom: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Note, I flush my own feces down the toilet, rather than saving water and sending them to a landfill in a plastic-and-chemical package. If you think my water usage comes anywhere near that used in the disposable diaper manufacturing process, you're wrong. Yes, it's geeky and detailed, but it's also quite eye-opening. Find out the real story about the flawed diaper study
that made people think otherwise.Fact: Cloth diapers have less impact on the environment overall than do disposable diapers.For a THOROUGH explanation of the impact comparison between diapers, check out the What a Waste project. Fact: Using 100% reusable cloth diapers is a way to model reducing, reusing, recycling for your children from the time they are very young.
We don't buy a lot of diapers (reduce), we reuse them hundreds (thousands, probably?) of times, and they make fantastic cleaning rags when they've outlived their diaper usage (recycle). Story: I was given a throwaway cup the other day after specifically requesting a mug at a coffee shop. I had to sit there in the coffee shop with my throwaway cup in front of all the people walking by who I'm sure were thinking "She is just sitting here to drink her coffee - why is she wasting a cup? Why didn't she bring a cup or use a reusable one from here?". I was quite mortified, and have photo documentation that I'll be including in my letter to the store manager. I will not embarrass my children by sending them out in throwaway plastic clothing.Fact: Cloth diapers allow children to be more aware of their waste elimination.
My first son was in control of his own elimination by 25 months. My second son is quite close at 20 months. Yes, I'M motivated to assist them in handling this themselves as I am the one washing their diapers, but teaching your child to take control of their basic needs is one of our biggest jobs as parents of small children. My kids have been pottying (using elimination communication) since 4-5 months old
- handling it on their own is something they are quite proud of!Fact: Using cloth diapers allows me to reduce my children's exposure to chemicals.Facts about the health benefits of cloth diapers from the Real Diaper Association can be found here
. If you, like me, find yourself buying organic produce, switching to natural household cleaners (baking soda / vinegar), reading labels on shampoo and prepared foods, you already have the instinct to protect your baby from environmental hazards. The whole Pampers Dry Max fiasco
has EVERYTHING to do with the chemicals in their diapers. It's not magic that allows them to reduce the amount they send to landfills
, it's CHEMICALS.Fact: Cloth diapers cost less than the disposable variety.
Obviously, if you buy less things, you will save money. But if you want the details, Sara did a rockin' job on it here
.Fact: Cloth diapers are easy.
Yes, this is a fact. Ask my husband whose quote "I never understand why people think prefolds are so hard" endeared him to me pretty much forever. Ask my sister-in-law who became a full-on convert, despite severe skepticism during pregnancy. Ask my brother, who is a stay-at-home dad and handles the whole diapering lifecycle. Ask my 6-year-old self who diapered her little brothers - WITH pins! Have a question? Check out the Real Diaper Association, for help with common obstacles to cloth diapering.
Or find some local help from a Real Diaper Circle
.Fact: Laundry (including diapers) is part of LIFE.
I saw someone on the world wide web claiming that they were able to spend more time with their baby because they didn't have "all that laundry from cloth diapers to do". Oh, PLEASE. Along with teaching my children environmental awareness, and control of their bodily functions, I aim to also teach my children to care for themselves. They help with the laundry - BOTH of them ( 3 1/2 and 1 1/2). They transfer the laundry into the washer, then take it out and put it in the bag and lug it out (this part they love) to the front yard. Then they get to hang it on the drying rack, tear all the dry ones off and stuff them back in the bag later, and, well, I'm still doing the putting away because the diapers are in the highest drawer still. The "big boy underwear"? In the bottom drawer - where they can pull it out and put it on themselves. (Related point: I don't feed my kids fast food so I'll have less time preparing meals for them and more time to spend with them. Nourishment AND care for our environment are worth spending family time on.)
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