When the temperature drops, many of us reach for our wool jumpers to help keep us warm and snug, but does the thought of washing wool scare you? If so, you’re not alone. Many people fear wool because they don’t know the proper methods for getting it clean without risking damage. Wool is well known for being very temperamental, and could shrink or stretch when subjected to extreme conditions or when handled too vigorously. The trick when washing wool is to be as gentle as possible, which will help you to keep your wool looking good year after year.
From how to remove stains from wool, to using the washing machine’s wool cycle – here’s everything you need to know about this difficult material!
Check the Care Label
Before you wash wool, you should always check the care labels on your clothing. Some very delicate wool blends shouldn’t be washed, and if this is the case the care labels will indicate this. If you can’t wash your garment, don’t worry. By spot cleaning and airing your wool you should be able to get it clean and fresh without needing to saturate it or use large quantities of soap.
Removing Stains from Wool with A Spot Clean
Spot cleaning your garment is quite simple to do, just as long as you take care. Mix a drop of liquid laundry detergent (like Breeze with ActivBleach) with cold water to dilute it well, and apply the soapy water to the soiled area, keeping the rest of the item as dry as possible. Very gently use your hands to massage the soapy water into the fibers, but don’t scrub. Allow the item to dry naturally, and store it in a well-ventilated area to let the fibers breathe. This is one of the most effective methods for removing stains from wool!
Soak in Cold Water
If your care label states that machine washing is okay, you should always soak your wool in a bucket of cold water before popping into the machine. Allow to soak for roughly one hour or until you are sure the fibers have absorbed the water. Soaking in cold water can help protect the wool from shrinking in the washing machine.
Use a Gentle Detergent
Wool fibres are very delicate, and they can easily become damaged through the use of harsh chemicals found in some laundry detergents. For best results, use a mild detergent – preferably one that is free from ‘industrial strength’ stain removers, bleaching agents, and strong fragrances. The more natural and gentle the detergent – the better.
Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions
Do you know how much laundry detergent you should be using? It’s often tempting to use more than the recommended amount, but this could make clothes feel stiff and rough. With wool, using too much detergent can leave a residue that could damage your garment.
Use a Detergent Ball
If you prefer to add your detergent straight into the drum of your washing machine, rather than using the detergent drawer, make sure you pick up a machine-safe detergent ball. This is because you should never add undiluted detergent directly to a wool garment. A detergent ball keeps the soap away from the clothing until the machine fills with water, dilutes the soap, and distributes it evenly throughout the wash.
Set the Temperature to Cool
High temperatures are the main cause of shrinking in wool, and if you put an adult-sized sweater through the wash at 40 degrees, you’re likely to find a child-sized version when you come to empty the machine. Select a washing machine wool cycle no higher than 30 degrees, and if your clothes are only lightly soiled, even cooler than this.
Run a Gentle Cycle
Washing machines are typically very safe to use, but extra care should be taken with delicate materials such as wool. Machines wash by vigorously tossing the clothing around the drum, but wool can begin to felt if it’s dragged or pulled. If your machine has a gentle or hand wash setting, make the most of it. These settings run at a slower spin speed that safeguards your delicate materials.
Dry Flat and Naturally
If you hang wet wool from a clothesline, the weight of the garment will stretch the fabric. To avoid stretching wool, dry flat by putting towels onto the floor and placing the clothing on top. When the clothing is still slightly damp, use your hands to reshape the clothing, so that it dries in the correct shape.
As you can see, it’s really not that difficult to learn how to clean wool clothes properly! Follow our advice and you’ll never be afraid to wash wool again.