Wool items need special care in order to last a lifetime. Many people are intimidated by wool care and stray away from buying woolen items. But it is a simple process once you understand it. It will only take a few moments to show you how to wash wool garments and yarn.
The big worry when washing wool items is shrinkage!
Wool shrinks when it felts. Felting means that the individual fibers have become entangled. They stick together, tighter and tighter until there’s no way to get them apart.
However, it takes a certain combination of circumstances for wool items to felt.
As long as you don’t allow all 3 of these elements to combine, during washing, your wool items will be just fine.
Washing wool garments
The best way I’ve found to wash wool items and yarn is to simply soak them in a basin of warm water.
- First, fill the basin with luke warm water.
- Add a small amount of gentle soap (dish soap or gentle shampoo work fine) to the water and stir to dissolve.
- Place the wool item into the water and push it own to submerge it fully.
- Let it soak for 15-20 minutes
- Lift the item out of the water and squeeze the water out. Do not wring it out, just squeeze.
- You can repeat these steps until the water runs clear while squeezing. For Most items, I only need to soak with soap once or twice.
- Fill the basin once again with warm water, but skip the soap this time for a rinse soak.
- Let is soak for 10-15 minutes & then Squeeze the rinse water out.
After the rinse, it’s time to get as much water out of your item as possible, to speed up the dry time.
Lay a towel out on a table and place your wool item on top of it. Then, starting at one end of the towel… roll it up with the wool item inside. Once the towel is rolled up, press down on the towel to transfer the leftover water into the towel. Press with your hands, or set it down on the floor and walk on it. The goal here is to get the towel to soak up the water.
If you’re washing a heavy item, or multiple items at once, it may be easier to use the “spin” cycle on your washing machine. ONLY do this if you can assure that your machine doesn’t spray water while spinning! I use the final spin in the cycle for removing water from my wool items, so that it won’t accidentally jump into any mode that would cause a bunch of wet agitation. The spin cycle works so well that my items come out feeling nearly dry!
After using one of the above methods, you are ready to set the items out to air dry. You can block your wool items into a certain shape, or just lay them flat. Yarns can be hung to dry.
Wool care might sound like a lot of work, but it actually all happens quite smoothly. It took more work to write this article up than it would to simply, “soak, soak, squeeze, lay out to dry”