How to Wash and Lanolize Wool Diaper Covers

Wool is a popular material for overnight cloth diapering when paired with an absorbent fitted diaper. Wool covers (sometimes called wool soakers) generally have a generous cut through the back to accommodate a bulkier overnight fitted diaper, with a high, elasticized waistband and long leg cuffs that are stretchy and soft. The best wool diaper covers are made of merino, which is finely knit, breathable, and not even remotely scratchy to the touch.

Caring for wool is not difficult, just different. You can’t throw wool covers in the wash with your regular diaper laundry because the heat and agitation will felt the wool, shrinking the cover drastically and making it lose is soft stretchiness. So forget everything you know about washing cloth diapers.

Please look right here for a second.


Ok, let’s continue.

Processed wool itself is not magically waterproof. In order to make a wool diaper cover do its job of repelling moisture, it must be lanolized every now and then; that is, coated with lanolin. In addition, wool covers must be hand-washed and air-dryed.

It may sound like a huge, time-consuming hassle, but it’s really not because wool covers don’t need to be washed after every use. I’ve found that washing every 10-12 uses works for me (and I always lanolize them at the same time). You’ll know it’s time to wash/lanolize them if you feel dampness on the outside of the cover in the morning or if they start harboring a slight urine odor. And of course, you should wash them immediately if they get dirty.

To wash and lanolize your wool cover, you need a few supplies:

  • Liquid soap for delicate garments (I’m using Eucalan because I have a bottle that is going to last me forever at the rate I’m going; plus it’s a “no-rinse” formula that’s environmentally friendly.)
  • Lanolin
  • Small container for the melting the lanolin in hot water mixture
  • Large container for the lukewarm soap/lanolin mixture
  • Towel for pressing the excess water out of your freshly washed cover

1_Lanolization Supplies

You can also use a lanolized soap such as CJ’s Wool Wash instead of using lanolin and soap separately. If you use a lanolized soap, skip step 1 below.3_Creamy CJs wool wash

Step 1: Mix up hot water and 1-2 teaspoons of lanolin. You’ll feel like you are melting worms. This part grosses me out.4_Melting Lanolin

Step 2: Mix lukewarm water and soap – about 1 gallon of water to 1 teaspoon of soap. Swish around to make it bubbly. I like to use a whisk so that I can pretend I’m the Pioneer Woman.5_Stirring Soap

Step 3: Pour the hot water/lanolin mixture into soapy lukewarm water. Stir well.6_Pouring Lanolin into Soap

Step 4: Gently submerge your cover. 7_Submerge

Step 5: Go do something fun while letting it soak, fully submerged, for about 30 minutes. 8_Soak

Step 6: Press out excess water with a towel. Do not wring the wool – be extremely gentle! Let it dry without adding heat. Be patient; this may take 24 hours or longer.9_Dry on Towel

You now have a freshly washed and lanolized wool cover, and you also received a little mini spa treatment for your hands. I just love how soft and smoothe my hands feel after their lanolin bath; don’t you?


PS: If your covers feel sticky after this process, don’t worry. It means they are well lanolized. The sticky feeling will go away after a couple of uses. You should never try to strip wool.



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