• Wool Care: The Basics
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    Stefanie Bye
  • diaperinglanolizingwoolwool carewool types

Wool Care: The Basics

Wool is a magical cloth diapering material. Many people find it difficult to understand how it works and why someone would use it for diapercovers and boosters, but once they take the plunge, it can be the answer tomany of the issues that arise from modern cloth diapering. If you need morefacts on why people choose wool, check this out. For anyone who asks how it works or why you use it, you can always just tell them it's magic. 

Wool types, terms, and care:

Wool knits and interlock comes in many forms. Here are thecurrently available options:


Knit wool covers seem to be the most commonly used. They canbe handmade or machine made. Handmade knits are sometimes made withmachine-washable fibers (with special care instructions, of course—the fibersare branded as SuperWash) but most should be hand washed to avoid felting. Thefibers are dyed and set before they are knitted so it is somewhat rare to haveknits bleed when washed. Wool pants can also be crocheted but it is less commonbecause most parents prefer the look of knit, the way the wool yarn colorwayslook, and crochet can be more bulky. In terms of function, they are essentiallyequal. 

Knits are very durable and retain their value well. They dorequire gentle care when washing—hand washing and no scrubbing. They can getsnags and pulls if the child wearing them brushes sharp objects. Usually pullscan be repaired by the owner and there are several knit experts who can fixvirtually anything for pretty cheap so that shouldn’t deter a buyer. Knits areoften described as luxurious, soft, squishy, and beautiful. 


When previously unfelted wool is exposed to water, heat, andagitation, the tiny scales on the fibers will lift up and then lock down ontoother nearby fibers and cause the weave to become tighter and make the entiregarment more dense (thick) and smaller in size. 

Machine-washable knits have hadthe fibers treated so that the scales will not lift up, but it is generallyadvised to hand wash wool no matter what care is allowed. Some peopleintentionally felt wool for diaper covers and boosters to increase surface areaand absorbency or to make a piece fit a child better. Interlock wool comes fromthe manufacturer unfelted and then is felted by the person making the garment. Thismakes the completed piece machine washable in many cases. Felting branded woolpieces will decrease their resale value so please be mindful of that.


Wool interlock is machine made and then goes through a felting and dyeing process by the garment maker. Wool interlock garments can be machine washed on gentle, handwash, delicate, or wool cycles with mild detergent which makes them fairly simple to care for. They can also be gently scrubbed with wool wash bars to remove stains. Always check with the maker of the garment as far as particular care and products to use an avoid when caring for it. 



Lanolin is essentially the waxy substance that sheep excretefrom sebaceous glands that coats their wool as it grows. It is harvested bybeing pressed from sheered wool. It then endures processes to sterilize andpurify it for various uses. Lanolin is available to consumers in various forms;liquid, solid cubes with Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil and emulsifiers added,or in solid form in jars. Any sterile lanolin is fine to use for lanolizingwool. Lanolin should be applied every time wool is stripped or washed in orderto recharge the fibers so that the wool can do its job. Lanolin combined withthe wool fibers is what makes it antibacterial, absorbent, and waterproof allat the same time.

Essentially, lanolin converts ammonia in urine that makes itpast the diaper into water and salt. The water evaporates when the garment isallowed to air dry and the salt crystallizes and sits harmlessly in the fibersuntil the next wash. Most people wash every couple weeks to once a monthdepending on use, but the rule of thumb is that the wool may have a urine smellwhen wet but when it is dry it should be odorless, as the lanolin is doing itsconversion process. If the wool smells of urine once dry, that’s the signal towash (to remove urine crystals) and lanolize (recharge the wool’s magicalpowers). If the wool merely has dirt from a child’s exploration in the world,the wool most likely just needs a spot clean or a gentle soak with wool washand doesn’t need to be lanolized.

Lanolizing and washing wool is a topic of its own since there are manydifferent ways to do it and I will be splitting it from this post so as not toinundate with information. 

No wool products should be tumble dried as the threeingredients to felting will be present: water, heat, and agitation. Once woolis washed and/or lanolized inside out, the best way to dry it is to place thepiece inside out (do not wring) between the folds of a towel and roll up topress out the water. You can also place the garment in the drum of the washingmachine and run a spin cycle with no rinse to get most of the water out. Then,the remaining drying process should be completed lying flat on some sort ofdrying rack that is vented and allows air flow. 

Originally Published on 9/5/13 by Lindsey Organ on Bambini Fluff

  • Post author
    Stefanie Bye
  • diaperinglanolizingwoolwool carewool types