Using wool over a cloth nappy may seem a little strange as we tend to waterproof our nappies with PUL. However, we know that sheep stay dry because of the natural lanolin in their fleece and we can use the same principal to keep babies dry and leak free over night.
Used alone a wool cover is breathable but not waterproof so we need to treat it with lanolin. It coats each fibre allowing air to still move between and crucuially also the liquid, but very slowly. Once the liquid hits the air on the out side of the cover it evaporates essentially making the nappy underneath able to absorb more. This makes wool covers a great option for heavier wetters and over night.
As the liquid does not actually penetrate the fibres there is no need to wash in between uses either. In fact the alkali of the lanolin also neutralises the acidic urine so they do not smell either! All you need to do between uses is air dry. Eventually the lanolin will break down and you will notice the beginnings of smells and it not being quite as waterproof.
So, you have your wool cover…..now what?
The first thing you will need to do is wash it, by hand. NEVER put your wool cover in the washing machine, there is far too much agitation. Soak your cover in some warm water with a little wool wash or if you do not have it another gentle wash liquid detergent, perhaps one suitable for babies. Leave for 30 minutes. NEVER RUB the cover.
You can then drain the water and gently squeeze NOT WRING some of the excess water out. Now you can begin to lanolise your cover.
Melt a half a teaspoon of lanolin in a hot cup of water and add a little of the liquid detergent you used earlier, you should end up with a cloudy mixture. Fill a bucket or sink with enough warm water so that the cover will be submerged and add your cloudy lanolin emulsion. Next put your cover under the water completely and soak for 4 hours or even over night.
Now you can dry your cover. Repeat the squeeze you did earlier but now lay the cover on a dry towel, roll the towel up and stand on it, this will help to get more water out. Allow the cover to air dry.
You will probably need to repeat this process a couple of times to ensure your cover is fully lanolised the first time.
You can now revel in the amazingness that is a wool cover, air drying in between uses. Every few weeks you can give your cover a gentle wash, just as you did the first time before you lanolised it. When you notice the lanolin wearing out you can reapply.
Keep an eye on the sizing of your wool cover as your baby grows, it’s important they do not get too tight as if they stretch they aren’t as effective, neither are they if they are too tight. It is possible to wear clothes over wool covers, again just make sure they are nice and loose, perhaps size up.