Wool covers, longies, shorties, and skirties are all great, breathable covers to go over fitteds, contours, prefolds, or flats! Many people are intimidated by wool covers, but soon realize they are easy to care for! A wool cover over a good fitted is a great option for a heavy wetter or for overnight.
We have listed some Frequently Asked Questions, since wool is very new to many. Below are instructions on how to wash and lanolise wool.
Caring for your wool
How to wash:
In a sink or bucket, add approximately 1/2 tsp wash of your choice to each gallon of room temperature or cold water and mix. Turn wool inside out, gently agitate, and let sit for 10-15 mintues. Some wool washes do not require rinsing, but others do. Follow the instructions for the specific wash. This step may need to be repeated for deeply soiled wool.
Remove wool from the water, roll up, and gently squeeze out excess water (do NOT wring).
Lay flat on a towel and roll the wool up, then gently press on the towel to remove excess water. Skip this step if you are also lanolising the wool.
Lay flat to dry. If you lay it in a well circulated room or in front of a fan it will dry faster.
How to Lanolize:
Fill a sink or bucket with room temperature or cold water. Fully melt about 1/2 tsp lanolin (less for smaller items or after the first lanolization) and a couple of drops of baby wash or wool wash in boiling water. Mix well with the water in the sink/bucket. Water should now be a milky white.
Turn wool inside out, add to water, and gently agitate until wool is fully submerged. Let soak for a minimum of 20 minutes. For the very first lanolization, you may need to let it soak for an hour or more (depending on thickness of wool).
Follow above instructions for removing the wool from the water.
Once dry, the wool is now ready to use! Hands on time is typically 5 minutes or less to wash and lanolize the wool.
TIPS: Avoid drastic temperature changes when washing and lanolizing your wool. Also avoid scrubbing the wool. This will cause the wool to "felt". Felting is when the fibers of the wool become tightly weaved together, and will cause shrinking. Felted wool will also not be as stretchy as non-felted wool.
I find wool scratchy, so won't wool covers irritate my baby's sensitive skin?
The type of wool used to make a cover will determine it's softness. Most wool used to make cloth diaper covers is very soft, 100% wool. Merino wool is some of the softest you can find. I personally find most wool itchy (my wool sweaters are a blend, not 100% wool), but my son reaches for his wool before any other diaper 90% of the time. It is very soft. As with all materials, even the softest wool may irritate the skin of those who are very sensitive. Wool has a great resale value, so if your baby has a reaction to it, you can easily resell it.
Isn't wool hot? We live in Texas, with notoriously hot weather. Why would I put that on my baby?
Wool has a strange quality of being able to contain heat in the winter, but be breathable in the summer.
How does wool work as a waterproof cover?
Wool by itself is not waterproof. It needs to be lanolised to become waterproof. Lanolin is a natural wool by-product. This is a simple step that takes almost no hands on time at all! The inside of the wool may feel damp after use, so just allow it air dry before using it again. If the outside of the wool feels damp or wet, it is likely an indication that it is time to lanolise again. Please see above for detailed instructions.
Do I need special wool care products?
No! You can wash wool with baby shampoo and use the store-bought Lansinoh brand lanolin that many breastfeeding mothers use as a treatment for sore cracked nipples. There are many wool care items that are specifically designed for wool diaper covers that are available at several of our local cloth diaper stores. The benefit to using a wool wash designed for wool diaper covers is that most contain lanolin, which will help prolong the time between full lanolisations.
How often do I need to wash and lanolise the wool?
You only need to wash the wool once every 2-3 weeks (unless it gets soiled or stinky). You will know when it is time to wash it (they will smell). Wool is naturally anti-microbial. You will need to fully lanolise wool every 2-3 washes (depending on the wash you use, some washes contain small amounts of lanolin that help prolong this period of time). Spray lanolin is available at some of our local shops to help keep them at their peak for the washes in between.
What is the difference between knit, interlock, and upcycled wool?
Knit covers are usually made by WAHM's. Interlock is wool that has been made into a sheet of fabric that can be sewn. Upcycled wool covers are made from sweaters (and is the most affordable option).
Do I have to handwash wool?
Yes. There are a brave few who will put their wool in the delicate cycle, but handwashing is what we recommend. It is the best way to gurantee you will not felt or shrink the wool.
How many wool covers do I need?
If you are using wool part time (at night only, or only part of the daytime), then 2 covers should be enough (so you can still have one to use while the other is being washed/dryed). If you are using wool full time, it will just depend on what you want! 3-4 will be enough, but many use wool longies, shorties, or skirties in place of regular pants, shorts, and skirts. If you do this, you will need to determine how many is right for you.