How to Wash Wool

How to Wash Wool

Thick and warm wool. When you’re forced to brave the outdoor elements , there is nothing quite like a wool sweater, wool jacket, or wool leggings to keep a smile on your face. But for a fabric that is long-lasting, hypoallergenic, and even naturally flame-retardant, there are a lot of rumors that wool is difficult to wash and maintain. We’re going to shed some light on caring for wool, including a few glorious tips on how to wash wool successfully.

And guess what? It doesn’t require a trip to the dry cleaners.


Spot Treating Wool

Wool can be finicky, which is why it is recommended to only wash it after a few uses and spot-treating smaller stains. Furthermore, items like blankets, winter socks and mittens, sweaters, and jackets without linings can all do with a quick wash, while lined or structured items, like suits, coats, or blazers, should be spot-cleaned.

To spot treat wool, do the following:

  • Take a soft wash cloth and dampen it with warm water and some mild soap.
  • Gently work the soap into any spots or stains or places where there is odor.
  • After you have dampened the spots, remove the excess lather with a fresh wet cloth. Use cool water.
  • Let the garment air dry before placing it in storage.
a selection of woolen gloves, socks and a bobble hat

Pretreating Woolen Clothes

When you opt to wash wool at home, you should pretreat any stains or do a pre-soak to remove odors.

There are many wool-specific stain solutions available, but you can easily make your own pretreating solution at home.

  • Take ½ a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of a gentle wool wash, such as Castile soap or Woolite.
  • Gently rub any stains or soiled areas on the item. Be sure to include the collar, armpits, and cuffs or sleeves.
  • Wait about 10 minutes for the solution to begin breaking up the stains.

If the wool garment has an odor, soak the item in cool water mixed with ¼ cup of vinegar for 30 minutes.


How to Hand Wash Wool

Yes, it’s no joke. You can hand wash wool at home, saving yourself for another trip to the dry cleaner. Even if the care tag on the item says that it shouldn’t be machine washed, hand washing is still viable and safe.

Follow these tips to get the best hand washing results:

  1. Fill a sink, bathtub, or wash basin with cool water. Wool is very sensitive to temperature and should never be exposed to hot water or a hot dryer, as the material will shrink.
  2. Choose a gentle wool-safe detergent, such as The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo or Woolite Delicates. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Submerge one item at the time. Begin to agitate the water with your hand, spreading the soap around.
  4. After agitating, let the woolen garment soak for 30 minutes.
  5. Run cool water over and through the item until there is no more soap left.
  6. Never wring wool. Press and squeeze water from the item to remove excess moisture (then follow the drying instructions below).
checking the hand wash instructions on a pink piece of knitwear

How to Machine Wash Wool

We get asked all the time “can you machine wash wool”, and the answer is yes, but not all garments. There are some wool items that can be placed in the washing machine without any issue.

You will need a mesh washing bag and a machine that has either a delicate, hand wash, or wool setting you can choose. Make sure the temperature is set to cold. Spin should be on the lowest setting. If you are washing a wool coat or blazer, brush and pretreat the stains before proceeding.

  1. Simply add the required amount of wool detergent to the machine, according to the load size. Remember, you will need a mesh laundry bag for every single item. Don’t wash multiple wool garments together.
  2. Let the machine wash your garments. Once the cycle is complete, swiftly remove the items from the washing machine to prevent wrinkles.
  3. Do not place your woolen clothes and accessories in the dryer.


Dry Cleaning Your Woolens

While most wool clothes can be successfully hand or machine washed, heavier or bulkier items, such as blankets, should be taken to the dry cleaners. Attempting to machine or hand wash a blanket will shrink the material or possibly diminish the softness.

Since dry cleaning is the recommended method for most woolen garments, take along any wool coats, jackets, blazers, and pullovers that may have stains or be damaged by moths. The solvents used for dry cleaning can eliminate moth eggs and larvae.

To prevent a moth infestation, it might be wise to use a dry cleaner before putting seasonal wool items into storage.

Drying and Storing Wool

folded pile of  cream woolens with socks on the top of them

Now that your wet wool is out of the basin or washing machine and the excess water has been squeezed from the material, it’s time to dry it. Your best option is to lay the woolen garment flat on towels or a drying rack. We’ll say it again: Never stick wool in a drying machine. Never hang heavy wool knits, either. You’ll stretch out the material.

Will Air-drying wool take too long? You can hasten the progress by laying the item on a towel. Adjust the garment so that it is in its original shape. Then, take the end of the towel, rolling the material up like a yoga mat or sleeping bag. Gently squeeze the rolled up wool once again.

As your wool is drying, keep it away from sunlight and heat. The fibers could shrink, warp, or yellow. Got wrinkles? Don’t touch the clothes iron. Steaming is the best!

Lastly, when you go to store your woolen clothes, make sure they are completely dry. Place them in breathable garment bags or in a storage box that moths and dust can’t infiltrate. This practice will keep your woolens fresh and clean until you’re ready to use them again.


Washing Wool, is it Worth it?

Knowing how to wash wool is one way to preserve your beautiful pullovers, dresses, blazers, and other wool garments for many years. Plus, getting to wash those items in the comfort of your home is truly a time-saver! You’ll never have to worry about running to the dry cleaner’s for your favorite wool sweater again.

100% pure wool

About MothPrevention

MothPrevention® speak to customers every day about their clothes moth issues - clothes moths are a species that are ever increasing and that can cause significant damage to clothes, carpets and other home textiles.

To date, we’ve helped over 250,000 customers deal with their moth problems. We have developed professional grade solutions including proprietary pheromones and trap design, not available from anybody else in the USA.

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