Wool is a fantastic fabric. It’s warm and comforting, yet lightweight enough to wear comfortably under other clothes without adding too much bulk. As a bonus, it also resists dirt and odors. And if that wasn’t enough, it can be dyed into countless colors and patterns! If you’re going to own only one type of natural fiber clothing in your wardrobe, make sure it’s wool. But as wonderful as all those qualities are and as stylish as the color variations might be it still pays to take proper care of your wool items during their various washings throughout the year.
Wool and Shrinkage
Many people automatically assume that wool shrinks because, well, everything else they’ve ever owned has done so! And yet, it’s not as simple as that. For instance, if you’re wearing a sweater made from 100% merino wool, then it would not shrink. In fact, this material tends to be more resilient than most other natural fibers. Well, any type of wool blend with a synthetic material mixed in will most likely retain its shape after multiple washings. In that case, the wool might shrink a bit.
Of course how much it shrinks depends on a number of factors. For starters, you need to know the exact type of wool involved. If it’s 100% raw merino, then you’re looking at more than three times as much as shrinkage compared to regular wool. That translates into 2-5 cm or about 1-2 inches, depending on your specific item and what activities you do while wearing it.
How to avoid from shrinkage?
So while it’s true that wool shrinks, you can help minimize the effects of this by using cold or room temperature water whenever possible. Of course, never put your wool clothes in the dryer. Instead, hang them on a clothesline or flat drying rack to best retain their shape. And if you want to get rid of any stubborn wrinkles, simply use a steamer it works wonders without causing harm to your garment.
How to wash the wool?
The following guide was developed to help you care for your wool blankets, comforters or throws.
Washing Wool Blankets
The General Rule for all pure wool blankets is to always wash in cold water and gently wring or roll. A hand wash or delicate wash cycle and low-action washer spin on modern appliances can produce a good result.
Many of our customers report that they will go ahead and run the warm/hot load with towels knowing their blankets turn out fine. We at Biddeford are not blanket experts but we do know how important it is to remove the natural oils from within the yarns, especially before storing the blanket away when the humidity level drops down over winter. Washing in water that is too hot will remove these oils prematurely and can be harder to revive later.
Wool Comforters & Throws
For comforters or throws, machine washing can work well if you are gentle in deciding how much soap to put into the load. If you do not have a front loader washer, we recommend using no more than 1/4 cup of mild detergent (non-scented) for two small blankets or comforters. Use only one teaspoon if it’s just one large blanket! Instead of measuring out soap, consider adding about half a capful of Wool Wash Liquid.
When laundering by machine follow the steps outlined below:
- Remove any attached items (tassels, buttons).
- Check the label to ensure your comforter or throw is large enough to be able to fit into a machine.
- If you are unsure if it will easily fit into the washer, hand wash in cold water rather than trying to cram it into an over-sized washer.
- Use mild detergent only. Add half a capful for two small blankets or comforters. Use less with just one blanket as needed. Wool Wash Liquid is available as well as other mild soaps not specifically labeled for wool or delicate items.
- Gently fill the washer with cold water and allow the blanket/comforter/throw to soak briefly before putting in a gentle cycle.
- Add a small amount of wool wash liquid to this load as well if desired. Place the blanket/comforter/throw in with other items or alone if necessary to avoid tangling or damage from rubbing against other objects. Check the rinse water after each spin cycle and adjust as needed by filling with more cold water as needed to ensure all soap has been removed from the fibers.
- If you have a front loader washer, use only one tablespoon of mild detergent for two blankets or comforters and half a teaspoon for just one large blanket! Use Wool Wash Liquid instead of measuring out soap.
- Gently tumble dry on a low setting until it is partially dry but still warm to touch. You can speed up this process by using a large salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Put the blanket/comforter/throw into your dryer on medium heat for about an hour, check every 10 minutes to ensure it is not getting too hot. It will be warm but not scorching or uncomfortable. This step helps to distribute the natural oils within the yarns which are protective against the cold weather. Keep checking until all dampness has evaporated away and it feels dry to touch.
- Pull out of the dryer when ready and shake vigorously to fluff up the fibers again before allowing it to continue air-drying.
Need of detergent
To wash your wool, you can use this formula to calculate how much concentrated Eucalan you need to make the most effective, for safe wool wash possible:
- 1/4 cup / 60 mL = 1 ounce / 30mL of concentrate
- 16 ounces water = 0.5 gallons = 128 oz total volume
- Concentrated Eucalan is 12.8 fluid ounces (0.375 gallons)
In this example you would use 16 fluid ounces of water and 1 ounce Eucalan concentrate to make a total of 128 fluid ounces of wool wash.
Care for Wool Blanket
It is worth repairing wool blankets if a moth hole has been spotted, especially if it will only get bigger. A darning needle and matching wool thread can be used to repair small moth holes by pinching the holes together and sewing them together securely.
If there is a large hole in the blanket, you will need to patch it with a coordinating remnant that you can slide into place and stitch on both sides. Fill a void with darning or wool patch kits.