Category Archives: Wool Care

Tips on Storing Woolens during the Warm Season

The air is perfumed with the sweet scent of early bulbs and blooms, the fruit trees are unhurriedly and timidly revealing bits of color on their still bare branches, wary of the frosty nights that frequent Colorado late into spring.

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Thin blades of grass,  jagged edges of peppery arugula, sturdy tips of garlic, and delicate spring greens push their way through the earth, seeking sunshine but sometimes greeted with heavy, wet snowflakes or icy raindrops or hail instead.

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Mornings are still cold enough to require a full ensemble of winter attire, but by mid-morning we peel off our layers and bask in warm sunshine.  The kids blissfully spend their days outdoors and can’t be bothered to come indoors until bedtime.  Springtime is, unanimously and unquestionably, one of the most loved seasons for our family.

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Tempted to pack away all of our woolen base layers, mittens, hats, and coats for the season, a few bitterly cold spring mornings and late snowstorms pay us a visit to remind us that it’s not quite time yet.  It is the season of spring cleaning and preparing for warmer weather, however, and with woolens for the entire family that I  am determined not to be chewed to bits by moths while we play in the sun all summer, storage consideration and preparation is necessary.

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Tips on storing wool: 

  1. Wash all woolen apparel prior to storing away. This is of utmost importance.  There’s nothing pests love more than dirty, smelly wool.   Wash it by hand, throw it all in the machine (on delicate/wool cycle, cool water, not tumble dry, please!), or drop it all off at the dry cleaner, but find a way to get it all fresh and clean before packing it away.   Wash it now, before you get caught up in that wonderful slowness that is summer, and you’ll be glad you did when you open up that box in the fall.
  2. Dry your wool completely prior to storing it-  this is especially important if you intend to store your wool in any container that does not allow for much air circulation, such as plastic.  To avoid stretching the wool, we always recommend reshaping garments and laying flat to dry.   Never tumble dry your wool, of course, unless you’d like it to fit your infant instead of you.
  3. Create an effective moth barrier as a storage container.   This means a container that allows some air circulation but discourages woolens as landing pads for flying insects.  Some people store their wool in cedar chests, others in cotton bags or pillowcases, plastic storage totes, or even ziplock bags.
  4. Use dried herbs to confuse the moths. The lovely aroma of fragrant dried herbs such as lavender and eucalyptus is sure to leave nesting-ground-seeking winged pests perplexed and frustrated, leaving your favorite woolies intact while the pesky moths search for a more desirable, unscented location to lay their eggs.  Sachets filled with dried fragrant herbs can be placed inside of the storage container along with the wool.

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Why all this effort to store away my woolen clothes? 

Can’t I just throw them in a heap in the closet or shove them in a box downstairs until Labor Day?

If you’re asking this question, then it’s likely you’ve never pulled out your favorite wool sweater on the first cold day of autumn only to find unsightly holes chewed throughout it.  Properly cared for and properly stored, wool apparel can be passed down to younger children and used for years to come.  Moths and other pests use wool  and other animal hair fibers to as a nesting ground for their hatchlings to feast upon once born.  Moth damage can be devastating, particularly considering the investment that is a wardrobe of woolen apparel .

Of course, if your family enjoys nature activities such as hiking and camping during the summer, you may not even need to store your woolen underwear layers, as they make lovely base layers for all sorts of outdoor activities and are essential for camping in regions where the evenings are chilly.   We do still recommend laundering and properly storing heavier wool garments, such as wool coats, hats, mittens, and sweaters, since it’s less likely that you’ll be needing them during summer.

What to do if you discover moth eggs or larva on your wool:

Destroy all eggs or larva by thoroughly washing, soaking the wool in water and wool detergent, hanging the dry wool in the sun (do not hang wet wool to dry), or freezing the wool.  Be certain to thoroughly clean all storage containers-  vacuuming is usually effective.

What to do if you find the devastating aftermath of moths but no larva or eggs:

After finding a shoulder upon which to shed plenty of tears because your expensive woolen clothes have been ruthlessly chewed apart by impossibly small, seemingly invisible, and exceedingly elusive invaders, come back to your senses and assess the damage.   Many moth holes in knits can be easily repaired with some basic sewing skills.  (More on that in an upcoming post!)

In conclusion, please be sure to take the extra effort of properly cleaning and storing all of your precious wool clothing before the onset of summer.   You’ll save both money and tears later on, and there are few moments in life more rewarding than opening a chest full of clean, lavender scented, nearly folded wool clothes that are all in one piece and ready to bundle you up when the crisp autumn air reminds you that a cozy sweater would be just right.

Happy Springtime!


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Wool Care Part 3: Lanolizing a Wool Cloth Diaper Cover

You should lanolize your wool cover if:

  1. You purchase a brand new wool cover (Lanolizing is an important part of the “prepping” process and should be done up to two or three times with brand new wool covers); OR
  2. You notice that your wool cover is no longer keeping your baby dry and has begun to quickly soak through each time your baby is wet (you do NOT need to lanolize every single time you wash your wool cover, especially if you use a wool wash that contains lanolin)

To lanolize, you will need the following items:

  1. Lanolin (we recommend any type of solid, pure lanolin- many women use the same pure lanolin they used on their breasts during the early days of breastfeeding)
  2. Very hot water, either in the sink, heated up in a bowl in the microwave, or poured into a glass jar
  3. Wool wash (this helps break up the lanolin when you melt it)
  4. A sink or basin filled with lukewarm water
  5. One or two clean towels
  6. Some sort of flat drying rack or surface that allows for air circulation

To lanolize, follow these steps:

  1. Heat up the water until it is very hot but not boiling. You can do this in the microwave, over the stove, or directly out of your tap if your water comes out hot enough. The water must be hot enough to melt the lanolin.
  2. Put a small amount (1 tsp- 1 tbsp) of pure lanolin + a small amount of wool wash or mild baby wash (about 1 tsp) into the hot water and stir or shake it until the lanolin is completely melted.   Make sure the lanolin is melted and that there are not bits still floating around.  (we like to do this inside of a water-tight container such as a glass jar, which we fill halfway with hot water, 1 tsp of lanolin, and a small amount of wool wash and shake vigorously)
  3. Add your hot water/lanolin/wool wash mixture to a sink or basin of lukewarm water (or, if you are using the tap water method, simply turn on your tap again and add some lukewarm water to the mixture).
  4. Turn your wool soaker inside out and gently press it under the water. Very gently, swish it around a bit under the water so that the lanolin will be evenly distributed over the wool.
  5. Let the wool soak for around fifteen minutes. Drain the water while supporting the wool.
  6. Lift the wool from the sink, supporting it with both hands, and gently press the excess water out . Do not wring the wool out.  Supporting the wool, gently lay it down on a clean towel. Reshape, and then slowly roll it between two layers of a clean dry towel. Repeat several times until excess water is removed.
  7. Lay wool flat to dry on a supportive, flat drying rack. The wool can take between 24 and 36 hours to dry, depending on how thick the wool is and how humid the climate is. Turn the wool inside out at least once during the drying process to speed it up a bit.

Wool Care Part 2: Washing a Wool Diaper Cover in 5 Easy Steps

You should wash your wool diaper cover when: 

  1. You purchase a brand new wool cover (all wool covers should be washed prior to use, and then lanolized two or three times before reaching optimal performance); OR
  2. Your used wool cover needs to be washed (you do not need to wash your wool after each use- simply air dry between uses.  You will know it needs to be washed when it is stained or when it smells or urine; this may be every 2 or 3 weeks).

When your wool needs to be lanolized, follow these steps and then follow our instructions on lanolizing.   You do NOT need to re-lanolize each time you wash, especially if you use a wool wash that contains lanolin (e.g. Eucalan).   There is no need to dry between washing and lanolizing.

To wash wool, you will need the following items:

  1. A basin, sink or tub
  2. Lukewarm water
  3. Wool wash (ideally one that contains lanolin)
  4. One or two clean towels
  5. Flat surface or drying rack

Washing Wool:  

  1. Fill your basin or sink with lukewarm water.  Make sure the water is just slightly warmer than room temperature and is neither too hot nor too cold because extreme temperatures can shock the wool and cause it to felt and shrink.
  2. Add about a teaspoon of wool wash to the water.  Swish the water around to create suds.
  3. Gently press your wool cover under the water.  Swish the soapy water around the garment a bit to hand wash, but be careful not to wring or twist the wool while washing.  You can lightly press the wool while washing, and you can turn the cover inside out if you wish.  Let soak for 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the water out of the sink while gently supporting the wool.  Gently lift the wool out of the sink, pressing it between your hands a few times to remove excess water.  Do not wring the wool.
  5. Gently lay the wool onto the clean towel.  Reshape the garment.  Fold another layer of clean towel over the wool and gently roll the wool while pressing softly.  Repeat two or three times.  Lay the wool flat to dry on a flat drying surface, ideally one that allows air to circulate.  Wool typically takes 24 hours or more to completely dry; you can turn the garment inside out halfway through the drying process to speed things along.

Wool Care Part 1: The Basics (The DO’s and the DON’T’s)

Wool care is easy!  We promise.  Before we get into all the details, here are just a few basic things to remember when caring for your wool.

DO’s and DON’Ts when Caring for Wool

DO wash and lanolize all brand new wool covers and other garments before using them on your baby.

DO leave your woolens to soak for a bit when washing, but not for too long! (wool fibers can swell under prolonged soaking, causing wool to shrink & felt)

DO wash your wool from time to time, but only after it is either visibly soiled or very stinky (as opposed to never washing, which can be tempting, but which we do not advocate!)

DO use a good quality wool wash (ideally one that contains lanolin)

DO use solid lanolin as opposed to liquid lanolin when lanolizing your wool

DO spot clean your wool covers if they get a small poo stain; you can easily do this with a wool wash bar.

DO allow your wool cover to air out between uses …this will keep it smelling fresh and clean

DO wash wool by hand

DO lay your wool flat to dry

DO support your wet wool with both hands when transporting it (this will keep it from stretching)

DO expect a bit of shrinkage after washing a wool cover for the first time

DO expect some felting to occur after many uses on your baby (this is actually helpful in preventing leaks!)

DO lightly press your wool while hand washing, but DON’t rub or wring out

DO melt the lanolin with very hot water & add a little wool wash to prevent it from clumping when you lanolize your wool

…and the DON’Ts

DON’T wash your woolens with water that is very hot or very cold (extreme temperatures can shock the wool, causing it to shrink and become matted and hard)

DON’T wash your woolens in the washing machine, even if you have a “wool” setting  (this will cause extreme shrinkage)

DONT dry your wool in direct sunlight

DON’T wash your wool until it’s visibly soiled or stinky!  (unless, of course, you really love doing laundry and just can’t get enough of it!)

DONT wring, rub, or stretch your wool while it is wet; this can cause it to stretch and become misshapen.

DON’T use woolite on your wool

DON’T dry your wool in the dryer (even if you have a wool/delicate setting)

It’s not as complicated as you thought, right?   Washing wool is really a piece of cake… and once you start using wool on your baby and experience all of the benefits of wool, you won’t even bat an eye when it comes to caring for your wool.

 Next on the blog:  Wool Care Part 2:  Washing Wool