• Wool Care: Lanolizing Wool
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    Stefanie Bye
  • diaperinglanolizingwoolwool carewool types

Wool Care: Lanolizing Wool

Wool on its own is awesome but if you want it to be water-proof as well as absorbent, you need to lanolize. Lanolization is the process of coating wool fibers with lanolin. There are many different ways to do this and everyone makes his or her own routine based on preferred products, time allowance, location, etc. A person's washing and lano routine may also change over time, just like diaper washing.

This process should happen when wool is new, after 2-3 weeks of use, or when the wool has a urine smell or stink to it when dry. Around this time, the lanolin is needing to be refreshed and the wool is needing to be washed in order to remove urine crystal build up.

This is a very common way to wash and lanolize wool.
Step 1: The wool should be hand washed in luke warm water with a gentle soap such as a wool wash or baby wash and rinsed and clean in the same temperature water. Allow it to soak in the clean water while you prepare the lano solution.

Step 2: Prepare lano "milk": this is the solution of lanolin and emulsifier you will be adding to the bath and soaking the wool in:

  • heat a cup of water in the microwave or kettle until it is hot-- about the right temperature for making tea. 
  • next, you need to add lanolin and an emulsifier to the water. The ratio should be 1 tsp lanolin (per piece of wool) into the water as well as a small chunk of wool wash bar/ lanolin cube/ emulsifier or a couple drops of baby wash/ wool wash, etc. The emulsifier breaks down the lanolin and helps it liquefy and spread in the solution. Stir or shake (in a jar) until everything is milky white with no floating pieces. If it is yellowish you need more emulsifier/soap.

Step 3: Prepare bath- this should be luke warm/tepid water (slightly warmer than the water the wool was washed in) in a clean sink or basin, just enough to cover the wool that will be soaking in it. If the wool has gotten cold, you will want to gradually warm it back to the temperature of the bath it will be placed in. If cold, wet wool goes into a bath that is too warm it could shock the wool and cause the fibers to felt. It is advised to soak like colors in the same bath if you so desire, as colors may bleed occasionally.

Step 4: Once your sink/basin is filled, gently pour the lano milk in and slowly stir it in until everything is cloudy and white. One way to avoid clumps from happening (due to change in temperature from the lano milk to the cooler temperature of the bath) is to let the cup of lano milk sit in the bath for a bit until the temperatures get closer together. If there are clumps, you can either re-make your lano milk, or scoop as much of the lumps off the top of the water as you can. You can also gently rub the small clumps into the wool after its bath.

Step 5: Turn the wool inside out and gently place it into the water and allow it to soak no less than 15 minutes. 30 minutes seems to be an appropriate amount of time for most users. If it is brand new or stripped wool, it will need a longer bath and it may need more than one lanolizing process to be night-worthy.

Step 6: Drain sink or remove from basin, pressing out the water but not wringing. Then, place the piece of wool in a folded towel and roll the towel to press the water out (the wool should still be inside out), or place the wool in the washing machine (still inside out) and run a short spin cycle to remove excess water.

Step 7: Place wool in a well-ventilated room on a surface that allows air to move freely around the wool. Many people use drying racks and baby gates for this. Depending on the wool and your climate, it should take anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days for the wool to be dry to the touch. Interlock takes less time, and double layer knits take the longest. The wool will also dry a little bit faster if you start with it inside out and switch it to right-side-out (or vice versa) halfway through the drying process.

Lano Spray:
Some people simply wash their wool and then spray a lanolin mixture on it when the wool is wet or dry. This is particularly popular with the interlock pieces. To use spray lanolin, simply wash the wool, remove excess water and spray the lanolin mixture on the wetzone (the inside of the wool piece) and allow it to dry. You can also use spray lanolin on a dry piece to refresh it. This is often a great way to do a quick, temporary lano job if you are out of town or short on time.

Once your wool is in rotation, it is best to store it in a breathable place that isn't open to the elements. Many people have a specific wool drawer, shelf, or basket they keep their wool in. Regularly inspect the area to make sure there are no bugs or pests nearby and for good measure, cedar planks or blocks will help prevent any critter damage. 

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

  • Post author
    Stefanie Bye
  • diaperinglanolizingwoolwool carewool types