Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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No Need to be Sheepish about Washing Wool!

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; I really enjoy them! 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 cool water to the hot. The water temperature now should be “tepid”. 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.”

-- By Jenney D.

11 comments:

Kris said...

Thanks for the tutorial!

Jut and Chris said...

I was very hesitant to try wool. But, I LOVE it!! It is so easy to use, care for and wash. I wish I had built my stash with fitteds and wool...but now I can just afford a bit here and there! ;-)

Arizona Girl said...

I wish I had heard how to wash it before I shrunk my too much to fit on my little one.

Amy B. said...

I've been thinking about trying wool but am a little nervous. Seeing here how easy it is was great. I just ordered some!

hosiewosie said...

nice info- I've never done the boiling water part, just used hot tap water and it works well enough.

Heidi said...

Would it be possible for you to share the soaker pattern your friend uses? I'm a knitter, but it would seem reasonable to make a tried and true one if I was going to expend the effort.

I've always been afraid to try wool because of the expense and bother, but you make it sound easy, and I'm sure my boys persistently rashy bottoms would benefit.

Secret Mommy said...

I follow pretty much this procedure, but even easier... I use my bathroom sink and the hottest water that will come from the faucet. I plug the sink, put in a little Eucalan soap (or a drop of Lansinoh lanolin and a teaspoon or so of baby soap as you suggested) then fill the sink about 2/3 of the way and add my soakers. I swish them around a bit then let soak 10 or 15 minutes. Then pull them out and roll in a towel as you also suggested.

Also, for anyone who is even the least bit handy with a sewing machine, there are sooooo many patterns online for making wool soakers out of old wool sweaters. I felt the sweaters before cutting them up and making soakers, then I don't have to be so gentle with the soakers later. It's so easy and for about $30 you can have LOTS of covers in various sizes.

Pamela said...

I've been knitting soakers for a couple of months now. I'm trying to replace my pul covers with wool. I lovelovelove it!!!

Christina's Cookies said...

Thanks for the post! I have been wanting try wool covers for a while and now I'm really ready!

dotcomkari said...

THANK YOU for posting this! I know how some people are very scared of wool.. but in our house WE LOVE IT! I used it all the time when my son was younger. Wool is soo wonderful and not as hard to take care of as most people think! :)
I made a lot of cheap wool covers for my son oout of old sweaters!

Sadly, I just found out my daughter may be sensative to wool.. as she breaks out in horrible rashes from wearing anything with wool in it. :(

Attila & Tamara said...

Thanks so much for the informative post! I made 2 soakers and a pair of longies out of an old sweater and I just bought another sweater to make some more. This gives me a better idea of how to best take care of the things I've made!