"How should you wash your woolen clothing?” This is a question we often get asked, so we thought we’d gather all our advice for washing woolen clothing in this post. Once you’ve read these top tips and tricks, (wool) laundry day will be child’s play!
How many times have you found yourself standing in front of your washing machine, woolen knits in hand, debating with yourself?
... Should I? Shouldn’t I?
... What if my favorite sweater morphs into a doll’s-size one?
... What if my knitted/crocheted masterpiece loses its color vibrancy or perfect fit?
Stop worrying! Wool is a lot more maintenance-friendly than you might think and with the right approach, your favorite woolies will remain in tip top condition. We’ve put together a handy list of great advice for washing woolen clothing without shrinkage or losing color.
1 | Wool cleans itself
Sure, sometimes using the washing machine and laundry detergent is more essential than optional. But, did you know that wool is self-cleaning? Wool contains a natural wax called lanolin, which is dirt- and water-resistant. When lanolin comes into contact with moisture, it acts as a natural soap. So, just hang up your sweater or cardigan outside on the clothesline or in front of an open window whenever it needs some freshening up. That’ll save yourself another load of washing.
2 | Washing woolens in the machine
If you get a stain on your knits or they start to smell a bit funky, you can pop your woolens in the washing machine with confidence. Make sure you don’t combine wool with other materials and don’t overfill the drum. Wool needs plenty of space to spin; 1 to 2 kg (2 to 4.5 lb.) is the maximum. Always use the special wool wash program to wash your woolen items. This program slowly heats up to 30°C (about 90°F) which ensures that the sensitive wool fibers gradually get used to this temperature. And set your spin cycle to a max. of 600 rpm. The less friction, the better!
3 | Washing woolen clothing by hand
If your washing machine doesn’t come with a wool program, you have no other option but to wash your sweaters by hand. This may seem like a safe, fool-proof option; surely your hands will handle your beautiful work more carefully than a machine. But nevertheless, you still need to pay attention, particularly to the temperature of your water. Make sure it doesn’t exceed 30°C (or 90°F)! And trust us, 30°C feels surprisingly cool. Fill your bathtub with a bit of water and add a little laundry detergent. Turn your garment inside out and pop it in the water. Let it soak for a maximum of 10 minutes. Then rinse well – but gently – then carefully dab or squeeze the water from your sweater. Wringing is strictly prohibited!
4 | Wool laundry detergent
It’s not just important how you wash your woolies, but what you wash them with. Always go for a special wool detergent. This protects, among other things, the wool’s natural wax coating. Wool detergents are also pH neutral and don’t contain enzymes which can attack the natural wool fibers. Fun fact: Wool detergent foams up more than regular detergent to reduce the amount of friction between garments. And one more thing: Never use fabric softener!
5 | Drying your knits
Yes, a dryer is super handy, particular when the days are cold and damp. But for woolen clothes, the dryer is simply ‘no go’! Once you’ve washed and spun/patted your woolies partially dry, lay your sweater or cardigan flat to dry on a clean, dry towel. Drying it flat makes sure it keeps its shape nicely. Don’t dry your woolen items in direct sunlight to avoid discoloration.
6 | Getting stains out of woolen fabric
Oh no, you were so careful but still managed to spill something on your favorite woolen sweater! As we already mentioned, wool is naturally water-repellent, so don’t panic; spilled liquids will be absorbed slowly. Make sure you tackle the stains right away, though. And do it with love: pat the stain dry with a moisture-absorbing cloth. Above all, try not to rub it. Then rinse the stain out with cool or lukewarm water. If the stain still doesn’t come out, then it’s time for a run through the washing machine (on a wool cycle, of course). As a final resort or in extreme cases, head to the dry cleaner!
Now that washing woolen clothing no longer holds any secrets from you, here’s two more bonus tips on how to care for and store your favorite woolies. You won’t want to miss them!
7 | Caring for your woolen clothing
To make sure your woolies retain their brilliance and to keep the compliments coming, they need more care than simply washing and drying. Wool has one drawback: it bobbles (or pills) faster than other fibers. We recommend you invest in a good wool comb, like this Yarnplaza Wool Comb, which makes removing the fluff from your clothing a piece of cake. A super handy gadget!
8 | Storing your wool-wear
No doubt your favorite woolen sweater will never see the inside of your wardrobe during the colder months! But when you do take it off, we suggest you pop it on a hanger every now and them. The fresh air is good for your sweater and will make it less attractive to moths. When the time comes to switch over to your summer wardrobe, store your woolen sweaters—washed and dried—in a sealed plastic box. A good idea is to pop a lavender sachet in with them. Moths hate the smell and will steer well clear of your woolen treasures.
Do you have any more questions about washing woolen clothing? Or maybe a tip to share? Then let us know in the comments below!