Monday, April 1, 2013

I have had a lot of people asking me about wool lately and figured I should share some of the things I have learned.

When selecting a cover, remember not all wool is equal.  When picking wool to use as diaper covers it is important to get something that is nice and dense (this can be a wool interlock or a knit).  If you are planning to use it overnight (or on long car rides) then having a double layer in the wet zone is also a great idea.  I have used single layer wool longies overnight with no issues, but they were a high quality interlock.  Single layer wool is fine, but is better suited for day use. Knit covers can be beautiful, but they need to be very tightly knit, out of good quality wool, to work.  If you have something that is a looser knit, don't expect it to work over night. Use it for day wear and change the diaper often.

Lanolin makes your wool work.   It doesn't matter how nice a cover you have, if it isn't well lanolised it will not work the way you need it to.  There are 101 different ways to lanolise and a lot of different products.  Your goals when lanolising are to get a nice even layer over the whole wool piece, to get a little extra lanolin in the wet zone and to avoid staining your wool.  Some wool covers are hard to stain (such as the Woollybottom hybrid covers made from old sweaters) some will show blotches of lanolin a lot more easily (bright coloured wool interlock).

Get your wool clean.  You do not want to lanolise wool that is covered in stains or that is soaked with pee and full of urine salts.  Most wool needs to be hand washed, so getting it clean can take a bit of work.  You can wash in a number of different ways, with baby soap, dish detergent (like original blue dawn or 7th generation) or a gentle soap like Ecover.  There are also special wool wash bars you can use to gently scrub stained areas.  Wool does much better in room temperature to slightly warm water.  Too hot and you risk your wool felting.  It is also better to change the temperature of wool slowly.  Some wool is sensitive to being "shocked".  Some wool is hardy enough you can wash it on a"wool" or "gentle" cycle in your washing machine.  Once your wool is clean, it is a good idea to rince it well to get any soap residue out, especially if you have used a dish detergent.  Gently squeeze the water out, without being too rough on the wool.

Once your wool is clean it is time to condition it. The best way to get a nice even layer of lanolin over your whole cover is to do a wet soak.  For a wet soak you need to have some very hot water to dissolve the lanolin.  I take a mason jar with a cup of water in it and heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Once you have hot (almost boiling) water drop a hunk of lanolin (there are many brands) into the jar.  I like to use a fair size chunk (Hershey kiss size or bigger) for each piece of wool I am going to soak (I only do 2 or 3 pieces at a time).  Some people say a pea sized amount, but I dont find that to be quite enough.  The more you use though, the more risk there is that you will get lanolin clumps and stains.  Let the lanolin dissolve in the hot water, it will look clear and kind of oily.  Now the fun part... take your favourite baby wash or liquid wool wash (like Eucalan) and put a big squirt into the mason jar.  Give it a swirl or a stir and watch it magically turn white :)    Fill up your sink (or bucket) with warm water (not hot, but warm enough that it wont cool the lanolin too quickly).  Add the mason jar of lanolin mixture to the warm water and mix it around with your hands. You can also add a nice smelling essential oil at this point if you are using unscented lanolin.  Now, turn your wool inside out and add it to the lanolin bath.  Weigh it down with bowls or plates if need be and let it soak from 15 minutes to overnight.  Once the soak is finished, squeeze the water out, roll in a towel and squeeze it to get as much water out as possible.  Lay flat to dry.

Once your wool is dry you can use it, or you can do one further step to make sure it is really bullet proof.  I like to add some lanolin to the wet zone on the inside of my wool piece.  There are different brands of spray lanolin, that can just be sprayed lightly all over the crotch area.  You can also use a solid lanolin and do a method called "dry lanolising".  Take the lanolin and soften it in the warmth of your hands and spread it out over your palms.  Very gently pat the wet zone until there is a nice even layer all over, then massage it into the wool.

Once your wool is squeeky clean and well lanolised you can use it for a while.  If it gets damp with pee, just turn it inside out an allow to air dry.  The lanolin reacts with the pee and turns it to salts.  After it is dry there will be no urine smell at all. Eventually your wool will either get dirty from wear (like a toddler sitting in a mud puddle or dumping spaghetti on their lap) or it will start to have an odour after it is dry.  Then it is time to wash again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Using Wool

Once I started using wool covers (Soakers, Shorties, Longies and Footies) I was addicted to them.  They are so lovely and soft and do such a phenomenal job of keeping little ones dry.  Plus wool is so darn cute!

Soakers are pull on covers that just cover the diaper area and are usually worn under clothes.  Shorties, and longies do the job of shorts or pants and a diaper cover all in one piece.  Footies are wool pants with little feet attached.  They are wonderful in chilly weather (see photo above).

You can use many different things under wool covers.  Snappied flats or prefolds work well.  The most common thing to use is a fitted diaper. Cotton fitteds work, but bamboo or hemp fitteds with extra inserts make for very absorbant diapers.

There are many many products available to wash and lanolise wool, some with lovely scents. The easiest/cheapest things to use are baby wash and lanolin nipple cream. 

Method 1: fill sink with room temperature/warm water & a squirt of baby wash or wool wash (I like Eucalan) Put soaker in, swish around, rub out any stains. Drain water and refill sink to cover soaker with warm water. In a small bottle put water, another big squirt of baby wash and a couple big gobs of lanolin. Microwave until quite hot and the lanolin melts. Shake really well. Add hot mixture to sink. Swish around. Let wool soak for 20 min or so. Lightly squeeze out water and then roll into a towel. Lay flat to dry. 

Method 2: wash with baby wash ( or a wool wash) as above but skip the lanolin stage. Once dry turn inside out and put a gob or 2 of lanolin in the palm of your hand. Stir with your finger until your body heat melts the lanolin. Spread out over your hands and gently pat the inside of the soaker making a thin layer in the wet zone. Massage the lanolin into the wool. 

For really bullet proof soakers you can use both methods.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Future posts...

I am planning on doing a few more posts soon, so stay tuned.

I have been using a lot of fitteds with wool and fleece covers lately, and am planning to do a post on this type of diapering.

I am also 38 weeks pregnant, with a cute newborn stash of diapers ready to go. Once I have the chance to try out these diapers I will write a post about diapering a newborn.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bare Butt Basics: Finding a wash routine

Washing cloth diapers really isn't that time consuming (an extra load to do every 2nd or 3rd day if diapering one baby), but it can take some trial and error to get a routine that works for your situation.
One important thing to do when starting to use cloth is to get rid of your fabric softener. Fabric softener leaves waxes and perfumes on the fabric that can lead to buildup, rashes and repelling. Even fabric softener residue left in your dryer can cause issues, so it is better to eliminate it from your household altogether. Some people swear by adding a little vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften things up. Also dryer balls (wool ones are popular) are helpful to soften up your fabrics as well.
The standard wash cycle recommended by a large number of diaper manufacturers is to do a cold rinse (some say warm works better as long as it is below body temperature, if it is too hot it can set the stains) followed by a hot wash and rinse with detergent, followed by a 2nd rinse. The first rinse washes away any urine and feces attached to the diapers, the hot wash gets them clean, and the final rinse gets rid of any soap residue on your diapers.
Not all machines are the same, and depending on the make you have you may find you need to vary the routine a little bit, or add in an extra step. When deciding what cycles to set your machine on remember the more water the better, the more agitation the better and to avoid any super hot sterilizing settings that are hard on PUL covers or elastics.
Deciding what detergent to use can be like a chemistry experiment. If your machine is HE or top loading plays a role as well as if your water is hard or soft. HE machines use way less water, which means you need less detergent. Soft water means detergents function almost too well, and you have to be careful about buildup. Often HE machines with soft water less is more when it comes to detergent and extra rinses will be needed. If you have hard water you will need more detergent and possibly a stronger detergent to get the job done. There are many "natural" detergents on the market, some sold at inflated prices as they are supposed to be the magic cure for smelly diapers. Many of the more common brands of detergents we are all familiar with in the supermarket will work just as well. It is really a process of trial and error to find what works for your situation. When you find a detergent you like, that isn't giving your baby rashes, that is getting out stains, keeping the diaper stinkies away, and rinsing away clean so as not to cause repelling, stick with it. If you use a detergent for a while and start having issues, change it up and experiment.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

I have been careful not to talk too much about brands, and more about types of diapers on this blog because brands are always changing and coming out with new styles and designs. I do want to talk about a few specific things on here that have become some of my favorite things to do with cloth diapers.

Bumgenius diaper sprayer: I think having a diaper sprayer is a must have for anyone wanting to cloth diaper. In the beginning, if your baby is only getting breast milk, many people don't bother rinsing off the poop and just wash it out in the washer. Once you start transitioning to solids though, a diaper sprayer is invaluable. The Bumgenius brand one I purchased has worked great for me and I would recommend it.

AMP 3 layer hemp inserts/flats: These flats are wonderful used folded in half, placed in a cover. They are super thirsty and I don't think I have ever had a pee leak with one of these in a well fitting cover. They are a bit big and bulky on a smaller baby, but on my 23 and 24 pound twins they soak up an amazing amount of pee. They take at least 10 washes to get fully prepped, but the more they are used and washed the softer they seem to get and the better they work. Made in Canada:)

Flip one sized covers: I love the colors these come in. So far they only come in solid colors, but they are colors that work well with a lot of my kids clothes. These are one sized covers, so they grow with the baby. For fit, on my two, there are no covers that have consistently fit as well. I have tall and skinny babies, but I have heard from a number of people with chubbier little ones, that these fit their babies well too. I like the flip function of these covers, on both ends there is a small flap where you can slide an insert, a pad folded flat or prefold under. I find this useful when trying to snap these on a squirmy toddler, as it keeps the filling from falling out.

Snappis: When using a snapless fitted, prefolds or flats a snappi is very useful for fastening. Once you get the hang of using one (great videos are available online) it is super easy. No need to worry about sticking pins into your baby.

Bumgenius pocket diapers: I have tried many different brands of pocket diapers, but Bumgenius wins for function. If I am in a situation where I want to make sure the twins will be leak free, or I know finding a place to change them will be an issue. I will reach for one of these diapers. These are my number one choice for out and about. I also find they work well for my twins, triple stuffed for over night.

Minky fabric: Some pocket diapers or covers are available in minky fabric. I have a number of Blueberry brand minky pocket diapers. I love the feel of these diapers. Minky is too pretty and soft to be covered up with pants, so these are perfect diapers to wear in warm weather when all you need is a T shirt and a diaper. I also love them for under dresses.

Baby legs: These are available in a number of different brands, and countless colors and patterns. I find they are the perfect thing to match with a super cute diaper around the house. I am lazy and it is so much quicker to change a diaper without having to take off and put back on pants. I also love baby legs to wear under pants in the cold weather to bridge the gap between pants and socks and to provide a little extra warmth. They also work well as tights under dresses. For babies learning to crawl, these provide a nice knee pad. I have been told these are great to use during potty training too, when it is too cold to run around totally nude.

Cute patterns: One of the best things about cloth diapers is how cute they are. I love the cute patterns I have on some of my diapers. Rumparooz brand diapers have some of the cutest prints around. Some wool covers are knitted with wonderful colors and patterns as well. Having a print that makes you smile during a diaper change is worth a lot!

What are some of your favorite things to do with cloth diapers?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stash shots

I use many different types of diapers, but nothing looks quite as pretty as a whole stack (or laundry hamper) full off stuffed and ready to go pocket diapers.