Washing Wool 101

Yes the dog days of summer are here and our little Rebena is wearing wool. Why? Because she is crazy. Because she is mad. Because wool in summer is a miracle. It breathes beautifully and transfers moisture away from the skin – keeping the wearer cool. We especially love sporting merino wool in the summer during outdoor pursuits. Wool is keeping Rebena cool while backpacking, pitching tents and running the trails during the day. To keep you soft and feeling comfortable this summer, we are going to teach you how to wash this all-natural fabric.  This tutorial is for washing cashmere, camel’s hair, wool and acrylics.


our bathing beauty, the 1950`s Fisherman`s Jumper

Fill a tub, bucket or any clean basin with cold water – adding 1/4 cup of mild detergent. Dish-washing soap, castile soap and baby shampoos work fantastic as a detergent. If your woolens have any funky odors, feel free to add a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to neutralize odor. Vinegar will take care of perspiration odors for your extra filthy ladies. I add a couple drops of lavender oil to clam myself during this experience – and to freshen things up. Immerse the woolen. While immersing, remember that wool is water repellent and can typically absorb 30% of it’s weight in water before it begins to feel wet. I have had experiences with extra heavy sweaters (like that bad boy above) taking up to 15 minutes to fully immerse. Swish gently, taking extra good care not to stretch the wool. Wool is wonderfully elastic, but it can be pulled out of shape permanently if handled carelessly while being washed. So swish gently, sing a song and soak for 10 – 30 minutes.

Look for spots and rub gently. Overenthusiastic scrubbing will fray the delicate fibers. If those spots are really nasty on a pale beige, cream or white garment — refrain from grabbing a bottle of bleach. The outcome will only be a nasty old mess as bleach will literally dissolve wool. If you are really itching for harsh chemicals, you can add two teaspoons (or capfulls) of ammonia to the wash water before placing your garment into the tub. Ammonia is second fiddle to bleach and will not damage wool when diluted properly. And for pete`s sake, when dealing with ammonia, please wear gloves.

Ball up the woolen gently and slowly squeeze out the water. Take care not to wring, stretch or apply too much pressure. Discard water and refill tub with clean, tepid water. Avoid putting your woolen directly under running water; the pressure will stretch the wool. Place your woolen into the filled tub and again gently swish to rinse. Repeat with clean water until detergent is gone.

Again, ball up the woolen gently and slowly squeeze out the water. (loving the excessive repetition yet?) After squeezing as much water as you can out, lay the sweater on a white towel on a flat surface. A white towel is preferred as it prevents dye transfer from towel to sweater. Roll the towel and sweater together to remove moisture, squeezing and pressing as you work. Roll into a second towel until the garment is slightly damp. If the garment is still drippy, go for a third toweling.

Dry the woolen on a flat, moisture-resistant surface, preferably mesh to allow the air to circulate. Keep away from sun and heat. I haven`t invested in a mesh dryer, so I simply use a clean towel laid out flat on the floor.  (Far away from my mischievous cats)  At this point you will be able to coax the woolen back into its shape. Go ahead, square off those hems! You can flip the woolen every few hours for faster drying.


  • Help cardigans keep their shape by buttoning them before washing.
  • Restore a delicate sweater to the right size by measuring it from shoulder to shoulder, across the bottom, and outside of each arm before washing. Then block to those measurements after washing.
  • If a woolen is looking pilly only remove pills with a fine-tooth comb or a pill remover. Pulling and picking will damage your woolen.
  • When the your woolen is dry, gently steam it on a hanger to remove wrinkles.

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