How to Tell If Fabric Is Wool?

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Things You'll Need

  • Small glass bowl

  • Water

  • Match

  • Chlorine bleach

Two tests can tell if your mystery fabric is wool.

If you've purchased fabric with no fiber content label, or came across an unmarked piece of vintage clothing or material, it is important to identify whether or not the piece has any wool content to avoid a devastating laundry accident. Alternatively, if you plan on making an item as a gift or for sale, you need to know the fiber content of the fabric you're using to properly label the item for recipients or potential buyers who might be allergic to wool. Two tests, using materials found in most households, can help you determine the fiber content of your mystery fabric.

Match Test

Step 1

Cut a small swatch of the mystery fabric, about 2 inches square. If your mystery fabric is in a garment, cut a swatch from the seam allowance.

Step 2

Fill the small glass bowl with water.

Step 3

Light the match.

Step 4

Hold the fabric over the bowl and touch it with the lit match. Wool fabric will catch fire and burn steadily, though it is somewhat difficult to keep burning. When burnt, wool fabric will smell like burning hair.

Bleach Test

Step 1

Cut a small swatch of the mystery fabric, about 2 inches square.

Step 2

Place the swatch in the small bowl and cover with bleach.

Step 3

Set the bowl in a well ventilated area for 8 hours.

Step 4

Check the fabric swatch. Wool fabrics will dissolve a significant amount, if not completely, or disintegrate.