The Quick and Easy Way to Wash and Lanolize Wool Cloth Diaper Covers

I am so grateful to Emilie at Got ‘Em Covered Diapers who has provided this great tutorial for lanolizing cloth diapers. I am putting her instructions here and combining them with my own notes (in italics) and pictures from my experience lanolizing my covers.

The Quick and Easy Way To Wash and Lanolize Wool Cloth Diapers

You will need:

– Lanolin (the kind used for breastfeeding)

– Baby wash or mild soap

– a small container with a lid or a stirring stick (for mixing the lanolin)

– a towel (bath size is good)

– a basin/container (or you can just use the sink)

– wool cover

Work Time : 10 minutes

Total Time (minus drying):45-50 minutes

The Quick and Easy Way To Wash and Lanolize Wool Cloth Diapers - A TutorialIt may look like quite a few steps, but you are actually only doing about 10 minutes of work time (I’d even argue that it was only 5 minutes!). It’s SO fast. TRUST me, as a full-time graduate student, college instructor, and stay at home Mom, I don’t have TIME to do a bunch of stuff. This was easy-peasy. 

Technically most tutorials out there are QUICK and EASY. But I just put up the graphics here to make it clear to you all that it really is simple. Plus I found Emilie’s tutorial very easy to follow.

Run some clean lukewarm water in to the basin (a little cooler than a baby bath)

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Fill sink with lukewarm water

Add a small quirt of the baby wash. I use Aveeno Baby, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Add a drop of baby soap

Note: If your wool cover is soiled leave the soiled side out for easy cleaning

Put the cover into the water push it down into the water, you will see that it resists the water a bit, flip it over and push it down again:

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Add covers

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Submerge covers Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Covers fully submerged in water

Let the cover soak for about 20 minutes. I just set my timer and made a goal to clean a room in my house while waiting. It was perfect!

 

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Let covers soak for 20 minutes

If there are any soiled spots on the cover you can gently rub them to get the out using your hang and the mild soap if needed

Rinse the cover out in the basin water and set to the side, dump the basin water. I used an old storage bin, but I’ve seen people do a sink. The heebee geebee part of doing it in the sink is the covers had pee in them and that’s probably not sanitary…but maybe it’s OK if you clean the sink well afterwards? I don’t know, depends on your threshold for ick.

To prepare the lanolin put a pea sized (or small line) of the lanolin into your small container:

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Apply a pea-sized amount of lanolin

I use the Bee Green Naturals Lanolin Stick that was given to me by Sew Crafty Baby. As I’ve told you before in a previous review, I REALLY like everything from this line. But you could easily just use Lansinoh Cream. I know when I was in the hospital right after labor that gave that to me to help with the “nerp” pain while breastfeeding.

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Bee Green Naturals lanolin

Add some very hot water to melt the lanolin and a squirt of the baby wash to emulsify. I initially did this without baby wash because I forgot and it was REALLY tough to get it to emulsify, so don’t miss that step!

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Add hot water and a squirt of baby wash

Put on the lid and shake until it is mixed well (no clumps of lanolin should be visible)

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Shake it until it dissolves

Here is what mine looked like once dissolved:


Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Emulsified lanolin

Add some very hot water to the basin (about 1/2-1″ deep)

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Add very hot water to sink/basin

Dump in the lanolin mixture and stir. Ack, if you look closely, you can still see small clumps of the lanolin because I didn’t add baby wash to help emulsify. That’s an important step!

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Dump in lanolin mixture and stir

Add cold water to bring the temperature back down to cool/lukewarm again

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Add cold water to get temperature back to lukewarm

Add your washed, wet wool cover. Let it soak about 10-15 minutes then flip over and let it soak another 10-15 minutes.

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Soak for 10 minutes on each side

You will see that the lanolin looks oily floating on the top of the water. You can put your hands under the cover and gently lift it up flat to pick up the lanolin off the top of the cover as the water falls through it. You can do this on each side and then pick it up open (like how your child wears it) a few times to get the lanolin through the crotch.

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Oily spots of lanolin in water

Now you do whatever you can to get as much water out of the covers. Here are some tips used by Emilie:

After the soaking time is done, take your towel and lay it out on the ground (folded in half). Gently pick up your lanolized cover and squeeze out the water, gently but firm enough to squeeze out the water (do not wring, pull or twist the cover). Lay it out flat on the towel, roll the towel up jelly roll style, and gently step onto the rolled towel to squeeze out the excess water (or get some little feet to help… kids always want to help with this part).

I did a few of these methods:

Patting dry:

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Patting dry

 

Rolling them up in a towel:
Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Rolling up in a towel

Standing on the towel to use my lovely post-baby weight to squeeze out as much as I could (Poor Cookie Monster!)

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Standing on rolled up towel

 

Unroll and lay the cover flat to dry (do not hang to dry!)

Washing wool cloth diapers tutorial - Lay flat to dry

Again, this entire process took 45 minutes (excluding drying time), but less than 10 minutes of my own actual labor. In fact, I had plenty of time to play on Facebook and Pinterest Clean My House.

What are your steps for washing/lanolizing wool covers? If you have any questions for us, please feel free to post! 

 

Other Helpful Tutorials

Cloth Diaper Geek’s

The Inquisitive Mom’s

Wife, Mummy, Nurse

 

The Blue Cover in this post was provided by Got ‘Em Covered Diapers. The Grey One is a Babee Greens Cover Provided by Kissed by the Moon. While these covers were provided, it did not affect any of the opinions in this post.

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
  • Mindy @The Inquisitive Mom

    Great tutorial! Love the photos. Thanks for the link up!

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  • Karianne

    Customer service from sloomb recommended 1ts for one wool cover. It is double layer and rather thick, and difficult to get properly lanolized so having more lanolin in the water helps.

    On another note: how should I store my wool covers between babies – lanolized or not? :-)

  • http://twitter.com/littlegreenling Greenlings Wool

    I love your kitchen sink and the herbs! And cute wool, too. ;)

  • JonasandDelice Herum

    have i mentioned how much I passionately LOVE your very clear and step by step approach to cloth diapering? I LOVE the pictures so much. Thank you!!

    • JonasandDelice Herum

      What do you like about the Bee Green lanolin stick? :)

      • Tara at Padded Tush Stats

        Thanks for the sweet comments! I like the lanolin stick because it is easy to use—but to be fair, I haven’t tried many. Carolyn could probably offer her two cents on this…Carolyn?

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Oh, the only thing I’ve ever used is the remainder of the lanolin I had leftover from breastfeeding (it’s a great way to use that stuff up so it doesn’t go to waste!) :) I can’t compare how easy/hard that is to use to the Bee Green lanolin stick, though, since I haven’t used it.

          • Tara at Padded Tush Stats

            It’s definitely not as stiff as the lanolin (I used “Lanisoh”) I had from breastfeeding

          • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

            Oh okay, yes, I’ve only used 2 brands (Lansinoh and Medela) and the Lansinoh is more solid. The Medela is definitely more gooey (but with either one you still have to work to get it emulsified in the water, so it never made a huge difference in that step. I actually found it easier to break off a strip of the Lansinoh than the Medela, and I didn’t find it took any longer to dissolve than the lanolin that was already rather gooey). In any case, I use Eucalan (so a wool wash that has a bit of lanolin in it) so I don’t lanolize very often at all. It’s easier to me to use whatever is cheapest, since I do it so infrequently (though you could argue it’s better to spring for something more gooey for the same reasons . . . ) :)

  • Cait MacIntyre

    So helpful! I have some homemade wool soakers that I need to lanolize before this baby shows up!

  • Michelle Lee

    Great tutorial! Maybe if I did it this way I wouldn’t hate my wool so much. I’ll give it a try!

  • Stephanie

    Maybe a silly question but do you rinse the wool in clean water before moving on to the lanolin? Or do you let soak and then swish rinse in the same water? Thanks!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      There’s no such thing as a silly question! ;) I usually squish my covers when they’re in the water initially (instead of just soaking them) to help get the soapy water through the fabric (mine are three layers, so they’re really thick and hold onto stink if I don’t do more than just let them soak. Thinner covers might not require that much effort). So when I’m done, I gently squeeze the wool to get a bunch of that old water off of them, then set them aside while I empty the basin, add my fresh lanolin water, and then put the wool back in. This is just another kind of laundry where it sounds overwhelming and like there are a ton of rules, but once you get comfortable with it you’ll see that you can wing most of it (there are some good rules to follow, like not rubbing the wool or using really hot water, but that’s because that will actually change the fabric! Those are really the only rules that you shouldn’t mess with … unless you are TRYING to felt your wool!) :)

      • Stephanie

        Thanks so much!

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  • cats in pants

    Would Dr Bronner’s do for an emulsifier?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      I have NO idea! People generally use baby shampoo because it is (or should be!) very gentle on the delicate fabric. If that’s what you use on your baby, then I’d probably use it (but that’s just me!) :) Or you could just buy Eucalan or some other special wool wash and then not worry about it ;)

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  • http://www.hatsoffdigital.com Priyanka Kamble

    Great tutorial! Maybe if I did it this way I wouldn’t hate my wool so much. I’ll give it a try!

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  • Sarah

    I’ve been using cloth for a while but just started in my wool adventure. I’ve loved it so far… BUT… I hate to say but. Poo. How do you get a good poo out of wool? I cleaned mine with lukewarm water and a toothbrush but I’m scared I’m ruining my wool! Also, I love this tutorial! It’s probably the easiest to follow out of all of them I’ve found. :)

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Ugh, and that’s why it’s best to use a fitted or something snug around the legs to contain the poo (and why I had trouble with wool on a newborn, but that’s just me!). So this isn’t something I have much personal experience with, but I think people like the wool wash BARS for these situations because you can kind of scrub at the poop with the bar of soap to scrape the poop off, but it’s gentle because it’s a slippery bar of soap ;) You should be okay if you are gentle and just spot clean (so don’t roughly scrub the entire thing or else it’ll probably felt up). But again, this is just what I’ve heard from other people! And thank you SO much for the compliment, I really really appreciate it! :)

  • Bailie

    Thanks for this!! Do you rinse the wool after washing with clean water? Do you rinse with clean water after lanolizing?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Nope, no rinsing necessary! (I mean, you probably COULD, but I don’t think anyone ever does and things work out just fine!) Most wool washes (like Eucalan) don’t require rinsing, and so I think people following the same steps with whatever soap they use. You wash with your soap, squeeze out the dirty water as much as possible, lanolize if necessary, squeeze it out, and then lay it out to dry! :)