Washing WoolWool is a natural fibre that keeps itself relatively clean. Think about it, sheep may get a little yellow, but they never really get dirty – especially if you part the wool and look inside. For this reason, it will manage odours well, will rarely get wrinkles, and is even stain resistant.
Don’t Over-Wash Your WoolYou don’t need to wash wool frequently – for average daily wear, you can simply turn your wool inside out and lay flat for an hour or so after wear to get rid of any odours that built up over the course of the day.
Do Hand WashWhen you do need to wash your wool garments, it’s best to hand wash them (though there is another option, which we’ll cover below). Simply fill your sink, tub, or a bowl of room temperature-to-cold water and add a drop of wool washing liquid. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, swirl it around to dislodge any debris, and then rinse it two to three times.
Do Take Advantage of Machine Wool SettingsMany modern washing machines now have a gentle, handwash, or wool setting that can be used to wash wool garments. If your machine has one of these settings, you can use it to wash your wool garments.
Don’t Wash Sweaters with ZipsIf you have wool sweaters with zippers, make sure you do them up fully before putting them into the wash, and if possible, avoid washing them with your cashmere and pure wool garments. Things like zippers and metal buttons can damage wool, so wash them separately or use a wash bag to protect the other garments.
How to Dry WoolWhen you finish washing your wool, wrap it in a towel and press it dry. Then shake it out and gently stretch it into its proper shape. Wool won’t shrink at all on the right wash, but doing this will make sure it always looks and feels its best. Then leave it to dry on a flat surface, away from direct heat or sunlight. If hanging to dry, make sure that it is a light knit. Heavy knits will be weighed down and become misshapen.
Don’t put wool in the tumble dryer; the heat can cause shrinking.
You also don’t need to get your wool garments dry cleaned, unless it’s something complicated to clean, like a wool coat.
If your wool garment has developed pills (the little wool fibre dots that form in high-friction areas), carefully remove them with a disposable razor or even very carefully with scissors. A pill razor is often too sharp and can cause holes, so try to just remove the pills without shaving the entire fabric.
How to Store Wool GarmentsHow you store wool garments is just as important as how you wash them. The first thing you need to do is keep them dry and protected – moths can be a real problem if they find their way into your closet. Keep them folded in drawers or protect them with cotton bags.
Avoid hanging heavy, unstructured knit garments on thin hangers, as you’ll often find the garment will stretch. A deep wooden chest or drawer in your bedroom will be just as good, if not better, since it will allow air circulation but keep your wool protected from moths. Similarly, make sure you clear out any pockets before you put the garment away to prevent sagging or bulging.
How to Treat Stains in WoolGetting a stain on wool, especially light-coloured cashmeres and wool sweaters, can feel like the end of the world. Fortunately, small stains can be treated by washing them in cold water or seltzer water, and then drying them with a clean damp cloth.
It’s best to act quickly, so soak the stain in running water as soon as you can, gently massaging until it’s gone. Don’t panic and be too vigorous!
For more serious stains, use a clean cloth or paper towel to remove excess liquid and/or debris (pad, don’t scrub). Then, use a dull knife to gently scrape away the remaining debris. Next, take a linen fabric (or something else that doesn’t shed lint) and dip it in a mixture of white vinegar, wool detergent, and cool water. Gently rub the stain with the mixture until it fades away.
Once you’ve removed all obvious signs of the stain, rinse the entire garment in warm water with a little wool detergent. Massage the area where the stain was and rinse the garment until all soapy residue is gone. Rinse again as necessary.
Finally, dry as we outlined in the section above.
If you find you’ve got a stain you simply cannot shift, seek professional advice. Take the garment to a dry cleaner for advice – they may be able to remove the stain for you, or recommend you another method to try.
Wool garments are some of the best in our wardrobes, and help us stay warm and comfortable throughout the cooler months. They’re as comfy as they are stylish, and can instantly elevate a simple outfit. By caring for your wool carefully, you can extend its useful life for years.