Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How To Lanolize-A Photo Tutorial

As I mentioned in the last post, I think wool care is intimidating for people. However, it really is very simple! Lanolizing is one of the biggest parts of wool care, and it is very easy. Now, you should note that there are ALL kinds of ways to lanolize depending on what products you have. I'm going to show you how to do it in the easiest way possible with lanolin that you probably already have on hand.
Lanolin is a natural oil produced by sheep. The purpose of lanolin (when on the sheep) is to weatherproof their coat (ie waterproof!! Very nice for a diaper cover!), condition their wool (man, I wish my head made its own conditioner!), and keep their coats clean (lanolin plus wool plus moisture=natural soap). When applied to your diaper cover wool, this means that lanolin will help your wool to absorb more water before feeling damp (wool will absorb moisture regardless of whether it is lanolized-but it absorbs a LOT more if it is lanolized!), keep your wool feeling soft and luscious against your baby's skin, and it is the reason that you should only have to wash your wool every few weeks to months (depending on how many times it gets wet).
Lanolizing needs to be done before you use your wool for the first time, and again every time you wash your wool (not necessarily talking about spot cleaning for a little bit of poop here, but if you wash the whole cover, you will need to relanolize). Assuming you don't have a major poop blowout at some point and your cover is just getting a little urine on it, you will know it's time to relanolize when your cover starts to retain a bit of a urine/nitrogen smell or if you notice that you are starting to get some leaking or a lot of dampness on the cover but the diaper underneath it is not thoroughly soaked.
There are a LOT of lanolin products out there and at some point, I will probably do a blog post that talks about those options more specifically. However, for today I'm going to show you how to easily lanolize a cover using products that you probably already have around your home (and if not, you can get these easily and cheaply at any drug store or online). I apologize for the less than ideal picture quality-these were taken using a camera phone but hopefully you can get the idea!

First, you need to gather your "ingredients": a sink or bucket, a container with a lid that can hold at least a cup of water, lanolin, baby soap, a towel, and of course, your cover!

Just to verify-yep, this is Medela lanolin-the type that you used at the very beginning of breastfeeding (and hopefully don't need anymore!!! Any pure lanolin will work, though.

Okay, on to the lanolizing! Fill your sink (or bucket, etc.) with room temperature water.

Add a pea sized amount of lanolin to your container

Add one drop of baby soap-this helps the lanolin dissolve better.

Add about a cup of VERY hot water (not boiling, but very hot). Put the lid on and shake really hard so that the lanolin and soap dissolve into the water. When they dissolve, it should look like this-a milky whitish liquid.

Pour the hot water/lanolin mixture into the sink and stir it around a little. Then submerge your diaper cover in the water. You are going to have to hold it underwater long enough for the fibers to soak in enough water to stay submerged, or it will just float on the top (remember, even without lanolin, wool absorbs a fair amount of liquid!!

Let the diaper cover soak in your lanolized water for at least 15 minutes. You can leave it in there for longer than that without a problem, so you don't have to be too precise about this! In fact, some sources I have read have stated that covers can even soak overnight. So it's up to you-go kick your feet up, or chase your child around, or whatever! You've got some time. :-)

Remove the garment from the water and allow some of the moisture to drip into the sink. I usually just wait until the water stops "pouring" off. :-) Do NOT "wring" the garment of squeeze it against itself, as this can cause it to begin to felt and decrease the "life" of your precious and beautiful wool!

Place the garment on top of a towel.
Fold the other half of the towel on top of the garment and press straight down. This will "push" some of the liquid out of your garment. I just push down over each area of the garment a few times. When you are done, the garment will feel damp and saturated, but should not feel soaked or be dripping. If it is, move it to a dry part of the towel and repeeat the pressing process.

Last step! Place your garment somewhere relatively flat to dry. I usually put it across the corner of my diaper drying rack, but you could also lay it flat (You would need to turn it over if you do that). Wool takes a few hours to dry after this process, typically.

You have now successfully lanolized your wool garment. See how easy it is? It takes time, but the vast majority of the time is letting it soak. The actual time you have to spend actively doing something is probably less than 15 minutes-and remember, with wool you only have to do this process about once a month (can be as often as every 2-3 weeks if you are using it a LOT or as infrequently as every 2-3 months if you are only using it at night with another cover in the rotation).
It should be noted that your cover is going to smell a little "sheepy" (if you sniff the lanolin before you start this process-that's a "sheepy" smell and what you will smell on the cover after you lanolize it). This will be fairly faint and fade away after a few uses, but if it bothers you (my hubby and I like it-it's a pretty natural smell, and he grew up on a wool processing farm, so it's very nostalgic for him!) you have some options! You can add a drop or 2 of an essential oil in any scent to the lanolin mixture before you shake it up, or there are TONS of lanolizing products out there in every scent imaginable. You CAN also rinse your garment in vinegar and that will get rid of the sheepy smell, but I would WAY prefer my covers/clothing to smell like sheep versus vinegar-but that could just be my own personal preference.
Any questions? Anything unclear? Let me know and I'll clarify as needed!

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