How to wash wool


Washing wool is a process that intimidates many wool-wearers. Memories of shrunken cashmere sweaters and miniature wool socks plague most people so the easiest solution seems to be a costly run to the dry cleaner. Try laundering wool at home with this process and avoid the expense of a dry cleaner and the taxing effects of dry cleaning chemicals on you and your environment.

Things You'll Need

  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Hot water
  • Tub or sink
  • Wire mesh basket or other draining device
  • Towel
  • Wool drying rack or other drying surface

Try this washing technique with a wool item that does not mean much to you. That way, if there is a misstep, little damage will be done to your wardrobe.

Fill a tub or sink with clean hot water. Temperature is not the culprit when you pull a shrunken wool sweater from the dryer. The agitation of the wool while wet is what causes the shrinkage. Hot water is much more effective than cold water as it cuts grease more efficiently.

Gently place the wool item in the water. Do not move the item around or swish or rub at any spots. Even the smallest movements can cause wool fibers to link together closely and cause shrinkage. Allow the water to cover and soak through the wool.

Add dishwashing detergent to the water and gently swish the detergent into the water so that the detergent distributes evenly. One or two teaspoons should do the trick, but you as much or as little as you prefer.

Allow wool item to soak in hot water for a few hours.

Drain the water carefully.

Add clean, hot water to sink or tub very carefully so that water does not agitate wool accidentally.

Rinse with clean, hot water until the water runs clear.

Let water drain from sweater. A wire mesh bowl or some other container with drainage holes will work.

Once most of the water has drained, gently place wool item on a towel on a flat surface. Roll the item up in the towel to soak up the excess water.

After step 10, remove the wool item from the towel and place it on a wool drying rack or other flat surface. Wool stretches when it is wet so you may need to take a few minutes to re-shape the wool so that it dries in the shape that you want.

The wool item may take as long as three days to dry. To speed up the drying process, check on the item every few hours and flip it over so that damp spots can dry out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid using any sort of cleaning fluid that contains soap. Detergent is the most effective cleaning fluid for wool.
  • When rinsing the wool item, try to avoid letting the water run directly on to the wool item; this minor agitation can cause misshapen spots.
  • Do not rub wool at any point in the process. The agitation will cause shrinkage, even if it is only in one corner of a sweater.

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