So you're cold and you pile on the jumpers and a wool coat. Your coat gets dry cleaned once or twice a winter season because it's not close enough to your body to need any more. However your wool scarves, jumpers etc etc need more care. If you're like me you like to find out new tips and tricks for washing things yourself rather than trusting someone else or dry cleaning. Dry cleaning everything can become expensive.
I own a lot of wool. I love the feel of wool, it keeps me warm AND it breathes still because it is a natural fibre. I wear wool cardigans around the house in winter with my pyjamas - it's been a long time since I had a winter dressing gown. I like that I can move around more freely wearing these. I don't wear woolen pants or tights though. I find them too thick.
When a lot of people think about wool washing they seem to always expect to use a detergent specifically for wool. Sure you can buy wool wash at your local supermarket. But really, since they are more expensive and just gentle washing liquids labelled and marketed for wool washing, you don't really need to buy any. SARD soap is fine. I also just use a gentle clothes detergent or natural shampoo. Since my skin is sensitive I use natural shampoo. I also use this when I am travelling to wash my clothes too (more about that later). Your hair gets quite dirty and shampoo strips dirt and oil from your hair, so you can see that it makes sense to use this for your wool. Gentle AND effective!
So what are my tips for your wool washing? I suggest hand washing your wool because it will keep it looking nice for longer - it will pill less over time this way.
1. Fill a bucket with a little bit of hot water. Add enough of your chosen wool washing liquid/detergent to this hot water. This will mean that your detergent mixes well through the whole bucket. Fill the rest of the bucket with enough tepid water to cover and allow your wool items to breathe in the bucket. For example, if you are washing a few jumpers, you may need a little bit more water - you may swoosh some of the water out.
2. Previously, it was suggested that you soak your wool pieces in COLD water for several hours before washing to saturate the fibres. This prevented the wool from shrinking. Unless you use EXTREMELY hot water, your wool items should be fine. You shouldn't really need to do this any more.
3. Have a look over your pieces. Do you have any stains on the outside? If you do, mix clear alcohol and white vinegar in equal parts and lightly dab the stained area. Remove the excess alcohol and vinegar solution with a dry cloth. For blood, remove the excess blood immediately with a damp sponge, gently dab the area using undiluted white vinegar and rinse the area in cold water.
4. Next, turn your wool pieces inside out ready for washing. Make sure you pay particular attention to the areas that are near your armpits, neck holes, cuffs and anywhere else that stains easily.
5. Submerge your item in the tepid water and detergent bucket.
6. Swish your items around in the bucket - or agitate it if you like. You can soak and squeeze wool pieces BUT be careful NOT TO RUB OR WRING the wool items you own. RUBBING will cause pilling and WRINGING will pull your wool out of shape. When you are done with this process, usually this washing will take 5 mins, make sure you support the WHOLE woolen piece when you remove it from the detergent water bucket. Obviously wool items soak up a lot of water and they become heavy. The weight of the water will begin to pull your wool pieces out of shape if you let it.
7. Fill the bucket up with enough cold water to cover your pieces. Rinse your wool items twice. Again, be careful not to rub or wring the pieces.
8. Squeeze the excess water out of your wool pieces and put them in a delicates bag. SPIN them in a washing machine in the delicates bag on a WOOL or HAND WASH spin setting. This final step will get rid of the excess water.
9. Dry the pieces flat on a towel in the desired shape/size. For example lay the jumper out with the sleeves next to it like you are wearing it.
10. Pay close attention to which items you should be hand washing. For example woven/knitted wool items like jumpers, woolen sweat pants, scarves, gloves, wool socks etc etc are fine to hand wash. HOWEVER dry clean only business pants should be DRY CLEANED. A general rule of thumb for this would be to work out if there is any doubt for the mode of washing suggested for your item. If you have any doubt - take the piece to the dry cleaner!