Are you washing wool changing mats or puddle pads from Fuzbaby? Start with our basic washing instructions:
Our basic wash instructions tell you how often, whether to use vinegar (yes!) or bleach (no!), and how much wool wash is too much woolwash.
When you first start out, getting diapers and baby gear clean might seem mysterious.
You will be an expert soon! Until then, we can help you treat your organic cotton diapers and wool puddle pads well so they last as long as possible. These are a few cloth diaper washing and wool washing tips we’ve gathered since 1999.
Washing Diapers and Washing Wool
Are Fuzbaby flat diapers ready to wear when they arrive?
Yes! With any cotton diapers, it may take several washes before the diapers reach maximum absorbency. Since your Fuzbaby flat diapers are dyed (hand-dyed by us), they are ready to wear. They have already been washed several times during the dye process. Your new diapers have been sitting on a shelf in our studio, so you might want to wash them like you would any new clothes, but the diapers are fully absorbent.
Should I wash the wool blanket each time it is used?
No. Your wool blankets and puddle pads don’t need to be washed that often. If a puddle pad is damp, hang it to dry. If it has not been soiled, it can be used several days or even weeks before it needs to be washed.
If a wool puddle pad is leaving the bed wet at night, should I use more lanolin?
Wool breathes. This is good. This means that moisture can escape, too. The area around a wet baby can be humid. If humidity gives way to just wet, though, you might try several solutions.
Start by changing the baby’s diaper more often, even if that means midnight diaper changes. If the covers you are using already are not enough of a barrier, you could try: 1) a thicker cover, 2) removing the lanolin that is acting as a moisture resistant barrier and that may be letting moisture slide right off the wool, or 3) you could go the opposite way and smear lanolin on the wet zone of the cover. I have done this, but it leaves a sticky patch and I prefer not to. It sends the moisture out through other areas of the cover.
Best solution: double up with two layers of wool puddle pads under your baby.
My wool blanket is stiff. How do I fix it?
If your wool puddle pad or blanket starts to feel crunchy and stiff, it may be that urine has crystallized in the wool fibers, or it may mean that detergent residue has accumulated in the fibers. To prevent this, you need to use more water in your wash routine. This may or may not be reversible.
We believe the following is your best chance to reverse the damage. First, you need to remove all traces of lanolin left by Eucalan or other lanolin treatment. Do this by handwashing in lukewarm to warm, soapy water. Use a mild soap and massage gently, then rinse thoroughly. (If the massage is too vigorous or the water hot, you could full the fabric further, stiffening it. Just be gentle, and the blanket will be fine.) This may be enough that you notice the fibers have softened again. If not, soak the cover for 24 hours in a solution of 25% white vinegar. This will dissolve any crystals of urea more quickly than would plain water. After soaking for a day, repeat the handwashing, being sure to rinse away all traces of soap. This should leave the wool softer than before.
At this point, you may want to wash with Eucalan, since the lanolin will keep the protein fibers softer. In order to prevent crystallization in fibers, if the wool becomes saturated, rinse thoroughly. You may want to handwash with soap as above if the cover becomes saturated often. If the wool has not been saturated but has become no more than slightly damp, the Eucalan is an excellent way to care for your puddle pad. Use the Eucalan when the fibers are generally clean. If the fibers become crystallized, however, the lanolin can seal that in.
My diapers feel stiff. Is there anything I can do?
If you dry diapers in the sun, they aren’t getting the agitation they would get in a dryer. By rolling them between your hands you will flex the fibers, helping the diaper feel softer.
If you are using a dryer, don’t be tempted to use commercial softeners. These could inhibit the absorbency of your diapers. An easy way to agitate the fibers and help them remain soft is to put in the dryer a wool ball (or a hockey puck or a rubber ring inside a thick sock, tying off the end). As the diapers are tumbling dry, the small hard thing will flex the fibers for you. Your diapers come out of the dryer feeling softer.
My diapers smell. Can I make that smell go away?
Probably. The smell is probably coming from residual urine that has crystallized between the fibers or detergent residue due to insufficient rinsing.
A good first step would be an extended pre-soak in white vinegar (25% in water) or BacOut (as recommended on the bottle). To follow this up, do a regular machine wash with environmentally-friendly detergent followed by an extended rinse cycle. To prevent this happening in the future, especially with the heavier nighttime diapers, put the wet diapers into a soak (preferably with BacOut) immediately rather than a dry pail.
How can I get rid of stains?
If you put diapers in the pail with Biokleen BacOut, a live enzyme cleaner, the enzymes will begin to break down the organic materials before they can stain. If you do end up with stains, you can try color-safe Oxygen Bleach in the wash. For natural stain fading, try hanging the diapers in direct sunlight. Adding a bit of lemon juice over the stain before hanging the diaper outside will speed up the process. Sun will also fade the colors of your dyed diapers, but if you don’t mind, you could find stains fade with the colors.
I heard vinegar neutralizes the pH of urine. Is that right?
Not exactly. A lot of parents know vinegar helps when they wash diapers, but why? I asked my in-house scientist about the effect of vinegar as it relates to washing diapers. He says:
The pH of urine is close to neutral, but when urea is exposed to air it begins to convert to ammonia, which is very alkaline. Vinegar would neutralize this. Detergents work better close to neutral, so the sooner you wash diapers after a change, the better your detergent will work.
For a longer answer full of science-speak, see the full article: Vinegar and Diaper Laundry.
I’ve heard that wool is self-cleaning. Is that right?
I’ve read something similar. This doesn’t mean that you leave wool diaper covers or wool puddle pads so long that they get up and take themselves to the washer.
One wool diaper cover manufacturer says, “When the lanolin in the wool comes in contact with urine, a chemical reaction occurs, which creates lanolin-soap. This has an antibacterial effect, making the wool self-cleaning, as it is worn by your baby.” If so, that is very cool. Keep in mind that you still need to wash the wool covers when soiled or saturated to keep the fibers clean and supple. (Source: “The Story Behind Woolen Diaper Covers,” Jeannette Almstrøm, Danish Wool.)
How do I remove smears of lanolin from a used wool thing I just bought?
I don’t understand why people like gooey lanolin on their wool puddle pads and wool diaper covers, since it impedes the natural absorbency of wool. We experimented ourselves to see if it made a difference to smear it down the center, but it just sends the moisture out through the rest of the fabric.
To break down the fats in the lanolin, you just need a lot of gentle, soapy rinsing. Vinegar won’t break it down, so you don’t need to bother with that. This just creates a situation like that with raw wool or raw cotton where you need to flush the original oils to make the fiber absorbent. Hotter water works faster, but you may not want to use hot water with the wool, depending on whether you are willing to full (felt) the wool. So, more water (with soap) does the trick.
Should I use lanolin on my wool at all?
Lanolin is the natural oil from sheep’s skin. Raw wool has a lot of lanolin in it. Once the original oils have been removed from the wool, you can add some back to keep the fibers soft and flexible. Not too much, not too little—just right. This works like conditioner works on your hair. A mild woolwash like Eucalan includes enough lanolin for softness but not so much that it prevents wool’s natural absorbency.
I don’t particularly like smears of lanolin on wool, but some people find this works really well for them. It comes down to what you want and need. Try it. See what works for you.