This is a guest blog from our facebook group leader, panbam ambassador, and resident wool expert, Sarah Ware!
Alright folks, I won't lie to you. This is not the shortest read. Grab a snack, a second coffee, and snuggle in. By the end of this I hope you'll have decided to give wool & Puppi covers a chance. I promise you they are a game changer!
I've been cloth diapering for just over two years, and along the way I've learned a ton, and fallen in love with multiple brands of cloth diapers! So please believe me when I say, wool - and specifically Puppi covers - have my cloth diaper heart and soul. If I could go back in time I would have Puppi'd from the start. Roughly a year ago (and one year into our cloth diaper journey), I attempted to use wool for overnights, and I struggled. The wool I had kept wicking moisture onto the pj’s, my lanolin was never properly emulsified, I was constantly frustrated, and so I switched back to our trusty PUL diapers. I say all this because I don't claim to be an expert on wool - but I am someone who tried wool, gave it up, decided to try again, and FELL IN LOVE!
Fast forward to the present - a few months ago my son threw me for a loop. He was reacting to his PUL diapers every time they got wet. I'm talking indented, furious red marks. At the time, basically my whole stash was PUL covers. Read: complete panic about changing my whole stash at 2 years in!! I went into full research mode, combed the Pannolino Bambino Facebook group, and found numerous positive reviews about wool & how great it is for sensitive skin. So, kind of begrudgingly and with support from the group, I decided to jump back into wool. Now I'm a Puppi woolie (don't even know if that's a thing, but if it is, I'm it) and I'm here to convert you too!
So, here's all the info you need to know about why you should wool, how to wash it, how to lanolize, and how to dry. Stay tuned for part two about Puppi wool sizing, and absorbency under the cover.
Wool comes in so many different options, just like cloth diapers! Most wool is in the form of longies (wool pants), shorties (wool shorts), or soakers (green cover). Pictured here is a pair of longies made from an upcycled merino wool sweater from one of my favorite Etsy shops - MyEcoBaby. It even has a little wolf applique on the bum! The green wool soaker is Truly Charis brand - one I actually scored for cheap on the BST pages and dyed myself. Finally, we have the Puppi wool cover. As you can see, the Puppi cover looks just like your regular PUL cover, except it's made of wool. One of the benefits of Puppi wool is how it's shaped just like a regular cover - so trim it can fit under regular clothes and makes wool out of the house just like any other diaper. I love the fact that Puppi has rise snaps and I don't have to size up my wool as my son grows.
Benefits of Wool
1. Easy to clean. Once wet, you just lay it out to dry. You can swap between 2 covers a day, and you only need to wash & lano every few weeks!* I get away with washing and lanolizing once a month.
*Unless soiled (read: poop) However, you can just spot clean wool if only slightly soiled; for instance if a small part of the gussets is dirty or a food stain. A bar of castille soap is my favorite method. I rinse, rub the bar on the soiled area, and lay dry.
2. Naturally antibacterial, especially when lanolized. The lanolin breaks down the urine, so as it dries and the urine molecules evaporate and nothing is left! This process is what makes it so easy to clean.
3. Breathability. Wool creates little air pockets between the knit that helps regulate body temperature, so it can even be worn in the hottest months of summer! My son is a mini-furnace and prone to heat rashes - but never with wool.
4. Great for sensitive skin. Wool breathes so well and is so soft, it doesn’t trap moisture against the skin. As I stated before, I've dealt with the angriest of red marks. It's a terrible feeling as a cloth diaper parent to see those marks on your baby. Using wool, my son looks like he's just had naked time because there's barely any marks on his skin!
5. Holds up for heavy wetters. Wool has a unique ability to both absorb moisture while feeling dry. It acts as water resistant cover, while adding some additional absorbency. I've had plenty of diaper changes where the cover was soaked on the inside, but dry on the outside.
6. The most Eco-friendly cloth diaper. You just can’t beat the fact that wool is all natural, it only takes a few gallons of water to wash, and you air dry! Bonus: wool diapers are made of all natural materials - sheep hair! From the Earth to your baby's bum, wool is the most natural, Eco-friendly cloth diaper out there. Cherry on top: once the diaper wears out and is no longer usable, it can be composted.
One of the biggest deterrents for using wool is the washing & lanolizing. The only thing that's mildly scary about it is the learning curve. Washing regular PUL/TPU diapers also has a learning curve, and wool is no different. I'll even argue that wool makes cloth diapers more accessible because you don't need a washing machine to get it clean! Once you get the hang of it, washing and lanolizing will only take 20-30 minutes of your time.
The supplies: Wool wash, tbsp, warm water, sink or basin of choice
1: Fill basin with warm water & 1 tbsp of wool wash; usually 1tbsp per gallon (I just eyeball it)
2: Add covers to warm water
3: Gently swish around the diapers, if there are stain spots you can gently massage the soap into those places
4: Allow to soak for 15 mins
5: Once time is up, rinse in warm water until water runs clear, and gently squeeze (not wring!) the excess out
- You’ll want to choose a wool wash without any lanolin; using lanolin in the wash can trap the yuck and not clean as effectively. My favorite is Unicorn Clean, Beyond Clean. Some people have successfully used baby soap/shampoo to wash. My preference is an actual wool wash as I feel it’s most effective. When I first tried wool, I used a baby shampoo and didn't find it as effective. I've also tried Castille soap, and while I did find it worked, I did notice a lot of color bleeding. My diapers didn't fade, but the water turned the color of the diaper cover - so it's not my first choice.
- The water should be warm and you’ll want to keep the water the same temp throughout the whole washing/rinsing/lano-ing process to avoid shrinking & felting. Wool shrinks & felts from extreme temperature shock. Just use warm tap water and you'll be fine.
- Prepare your lano while the wool is soaking to save time (see next paragraph).
This is what I consider the biggest stumbling block in wool. Lanolizing seems complicated and fussy, but really you just need a good emulsifier and super hot water.
The supplies: measuring cup, tsp, lanolin, emulsifier (Dr. Bronner's soap bar is amazing for this!)
1: Boil water and pour into measuring cup; I find 2 cups to be sufficient
2: Add lanolin to the water, for daytime wool I use 1/2 tsp per piece. For night time you’ll want to use 1 tsp of lanolin for each piece of wool
This is what lanolin will look like without an emulsifier. It will not properly bond to the water without one.
3: Add in your emulsifier, and stir quickly until the water turns milky, opaque white Side note: If there are still small yellow pieces of lanolin floating around, your water may need to be hotter, or you need more emulsifier
This is what your fully emulsified lano water should look like - opaque, milky, and no floating yellow lanolin.
4: Fill basin with warm water, and pour in emulsified lanolin. If the lanolin is too hot you can add some ice cubes to cool it from hot to warm
5: Add washed & rinsed wool to lano bath and soak! I soak overnight; the longer you soak the more lanolin the wool will absorb
6: Optional. Sometimes wool floats. If you want to fully submerge your wool, fill a 2nd basin (or pot/bowl etc.) with water and place on top of wool. This pushes the wool down into the lano bath.
Easy peasy right?!
- Using solid pure lanolin will give you the best results (Sheephish Grins is one of the best!)
- My preferred emulsifier is Dr. Bronner's bar soap! It’s amazing - you just need to hold it in the water and stir. I've also read that liquid Dr. Bronner's does the trick. There are specific emulsifying soaps you can purchase; or some use wool wash or baby soap/shampoo. However, I have found baby soaps/shampoos to be not as effective and leaves yellow clumps floating around the lano bath.
- It’s important to make sure you rinse your wool in warm water so it’s the same temperature as the lano bath, or else the lanolin will clump onto the cold wool. This won't ruin or stain the wool, but will cause white spots on the wool that will eventually go away.
- Scents are completely optional - I personally prefer scented lanolin and emulsifier, but if you're sensitive to EOs or fragrance they sell it without.
This is it! The final step of wool care!
Supplies needed: towel & space to air dry
1: Squeeze excess lano water from wool (no need to rinse!)
2: Lay your wool on a towel
3: Roll the towel so the wool is all wrapped up & squeeze! You can also sit on it, walk on it, or use your knees for more pressure. The more you squeeze, the shorter amount of time your wool will need to air dry
4: Air dry! Depending on the type & thickness of the wool dry time will vary. For instance, Puppi covers are usually dry the following day, while my thicker green soaker takes 2 days to dry
- A good de-greasing soap will help get the lano water off your hands.
- It’s totally normal for the wool to feel a bit tacky after lano-ing! I see a lot of people ask this question. Lanolin has a tacky texture and is extremely water repellent. You might feel the lanolin on top of your wool, especially if you used 1 tsp per piece. It will eventually fade with use.
Hooray! If you followed along with your own wool at home, you’re done! I know wool can seem daunting at first simply because it’s a new process with a bit of a leaning curve. But take it from someone that had to do it twice - it truly is simple! I hope this blog has helped inspire you to jump into wool, or continue your wool journey!
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P.S. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog, where I go in-depth about Puppi cover sizing options, absorbency, and the velcro closure option!