Learning how to wash wool may not be as easy as washing linen or cotton fabric. It can be quite delicate, so it requires care and caution when being washed. But, worry not as we have compiled several methods on how to wash it safely, and we have also included tips that will help you maintain its pristine condition while it's being washed.
Methods of How to Wash Wool
Wool is a type of textile that is mostly made from sheep fur. It is commonly used as a garment for the winter season due to its insulation features. Wool however has delicate fibers that can be susceptible to knots and matting. This is why you need to be extra careful when washing it.
On that note, here are the 2 most efficient methods of how to wash wool safely:
How to Wash Wool by Hand
If you want to ensure that your wool garment's fibers and structure are maintained, your safest option is to hand wash it. Here are the steps that you should follow:
Fill a Bucket with Soap and Water
Take a bucket that will fit the wool garment that you will be washing. Fill it with lukewarm water, then mix in a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics such as wool.
To know how much detergent you should add, refer to the instruction label of the product. It will typically give you specific water to soap ratio.
If your wool garment has stains caused by food, coffee, and alcohol, make sure to spot treat it first before moving on to the next step. You can do this by applying a half wool detergent and half white vinegar mixture combined with cool water around the area of the stain. Make sure to dab the solution to the fabric and avoid rubbing it.
Add the Wool Garment
Soak your wool garment in the bucket with the soap mixture. Make sure that it is thoroughly submerged so that the detergent is absorbed by the garment. You can do this by using your hands and gently swishing them around the water for about 1 minute.
By gently swishing around the wool garment, you are removing the dirt stuck on the garment by allowing the detergent to pass through.
How to Wash Wool when Soaking
To soften stubborn dirt and impurities, let the wool garment sit in the soapy mixture for at least 10 minutes.
Remove the Wool Garment
After 10 minutes, remove the wool garment from the soap mixture and gently press it to remove the excess water. When doing this, avoid twisting the garment as it may result in damaging its structure.
Soak it in Plain Water
Discard the soapy water from your bucket and replace it with clean, plain water. Soak your wool garment into this fresh water to remove the leftover soap stuck into it. Repeat until the remaining soap is removed from the garment.
Dry in a Well-Ventilated Area
Remove the wool garment from the water and press it with a towel to take away the excess water. Put it on a rack in a well-ventilated area and let it air dry. Make sure to keep it away from direct heat sources and sunlight.
How to Wash Wool by Machine
If you are in a hurry and hand washing is not an option for you, the other choice you have for your wool garments is to machine wash it. Always proceed to machine wash any wool item with extreme caution. Here are the steps for that:
How to Wash Wool with Garment Labels
The first step when machine washing wool garments is to check their laundry symbols and care label. There you will find whether it is okay for you to machine wash it or not.
CAUTION - If the label says that you should hand wash the wool item, machine washing will put it at risk of shrinking and pilling, so it's up to you if you are willing to take that risk.
In the event the label indicates that it is okay to machine wash, it will usually tell you the appropriate machine setting to follow. It is best to take note of this and follow it strictly.
Place the Wool Garment in a Mesh Bag
Place the wool garment in a mesh bag. These are usually designed for washing lingerie but have many other uses, including washing wool. This will protect the garment from snagging while tumbling and swirling inside the machine. It will also protect the fibers from losing their structure.
Set the Washing Machine to the Appropriate Settings
Set the washing machine settings according to what's recommended on the care label of the wool garment. Most of the time, the recommended setting is a cool and delicate wash so make sure that the machine that you are using has these features.
It is even better if you have a washing machine with a handwashing feature. This will significantly reduce the risk of damage to your garment because this is a gentle mode.
Add in the Laundry Detergent
Place your laundry detergent of choice in the machine. Make sure that when choosing a detergent for your garment that you pick one that is specially designed for wool. Follow the detergent label for the appropriate amount of product to be used.
Put the Wool Garment inside the Machine
You are now ready to put the garment inside the machine. Turn on the machine and let it run until the cycle is done.
Dry on a Rack
Once the cycle is finished, remove the garment from the machine and mesh bag. Let it dry on a rack. Make sure that it is laid flat so that it does not stretch out. Also, avoid putting it near direct heat sources to prevent shrinkage.
How to Wash Wool - Additional Tips
To ensure that your wool garments are thoroughly clean and safe, you can take note of the following tips.
Do not Hang Wet Wool Garments
One of the biggest challenges when learning how to wash wool garments is drying them. There is no shortcut for this because using the tumble dryer should be avoided at all costs. At the same time, hanging it is also not a good idea because wool can stretch easily, especially when it has absorbed water and has become heavy. You can lay it down flat in a drying rack and put it in a well-ventilated area. You can also quicken the drying process by patting it dry with a clean, thick towel that can absorb the extra moisture.
Do not Iron Wool Garments
Another major no-no when washing wool garments is to use iron to straighten out creases. The heat from the iron can easily burn the wool fibers, and it can cause it to shrink as well.
However, you can use a steam iron if necessary but first, check the label of the wool garment whether it can withstand it or not. If it does not recommend you to use a steam iron, it is best to let it be. The crease will eventually resolve itself over time.
De-pill After Washing
Wool garments have a tendency to pill, especially after being washed. This is because when you wash it, you are applying friction to its surface, which then causes it to pill. If you do not de-pill your wool clothing immediately, the pilling will eventually become worse.
To de-pill your wool garment, you can use a sweater comb for lightweight garments and a sweater stone for those that are thicker such as heavy upholstery and thick sweaters. When using these tools, make sure to brush in one direction. This will help prevent further agitation on the surface of the fabric.
FURTHER READING - Pilling on Clothes
Insect Damage Prevention
Wool garments are susceptible to insect-related damages because some insects see them as food sources. To prevent insect-related damages, store your wool garment in a breathable storage bag with a zipper.
Do not place it in a plastic bag because it can discolor your wool garment. Plastic bags also have the tendency to trap moisture which can cause mildew and create an environment conducive for bugs.
Fold Wool Garments
If your wool item is knitted, do not hang it even if it is fully dried already. This is because the fabric is prone to stretching, and it will eventually lose its shape if it is hung for too long.
The best way to store knitted wool garments is to fold them. This can significantly prevent distortion or stretching. Also, do not put it at the bottom of the pile in your cabinet because the weight from other garments can cause it to dent and crease.
How to Wash Wool - In Conclusion
Washing wool requires more care and caution than other types of fabric. The best option for you is to hand wash it because you can control the fabric's friction and prevent it from pilling and losing its structure. However, machine washing wool garments can still be an option. Just make sure to use the appropriate setting and a mesh bag to minimize the chances of damage but never put it in a machine dryer at all costs. There you have it. Those are the easiest but safest methods of how to wash wool.