Wool is synonymous with colder days and winter coziness. After all, it’s long-lasting, durable, and oh-so warm. Yet, taking good care of your wool garments can be a bit challenging making sure they would stay as soft and presentable as new.
If you have a question such as how to wash wool, how to care for wool clothing, what is the best temperature to wash wool, how to dry and store it, you can find everything in our complete guide.
Can You Wash Wool?
Wool is an amazing fabric with many fascinating natural properties such as being naturally stain and odor-resistant.
Wool does not require to be washed as much as other fabrics, yet it is necessary to wash it from time to time according to some simple rules.
There is a huge misconception that you should avoid washing wool at all. In fact, no matter which fabric we are talking about, non-washing may ruin the fabric since dirt will build up on the fabric and make all its wonderful qualities disappear.
Of course, it is not recommended to wash any garments too often, especially if they are made of wool: unless you wear or stain them very often. Wool only needs to be washed every two or three wears.
Please also note and remember that there are different types of wool and that they are not all the same: some of them are way more delicate than others and need some extra care.
So one of our first recommendations would be to always check the care tag of your wool garment to make sure it is safe to wash it and best ways to do so, before doing anything.
And generally, 10 out of 10 times we advise you to hand-wash your wool pieces, making sure the washing process is very gentle and won’t damage your beloved garment.
How To Hand Wash Wool?
Hand washing wool is usually the preferred way to wash and take care of your wool garments because it will be gentle and will reduce the risk of damage.
Even if your garment label allows you to machine wash your wool clothing on a delicate or gentle cycle, the hand washing technique is always depicted as being the best.
Yet, hand washing wool can be confusing, especially if you have never done it before.
So here are some precautions to take and all of the steps to hand wash correctly your clothes made of wool:
- Fill a sink or basin with cold or lukewarm water. Your water should never be hotter than 104°F (or 40°C). If you want to wash a very large wool item, consider using your bathtub if it does not fit in a sink.
- Pour some wool detergent into the sink and gently agitate the water to distribute the detergent evenly.
- Submerge and soak entirely the fabric of your item: it should be entirely covered by water. Of course, if you are washing items on the bigger side, it is better to wash them one at a time (wool sweaters are considered already quite big). However, if you are cleaning small wool items like pairs of socks, for example, you can wash them all at the same time.
- Let wool garments soak for 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow the detergent to get activated to remove dirt and possible stains from the fabric.
- Gently move the fabric around the water to get rid of all the dirt and excess soap, but do not scrub the garment. Intense scrubbing can cause non-reversible damages.
- Rinse the fabric, but do not twist it; be as gentle as possible. Empty the sink or basin you washed the fabric in, and run clean water to rinse the fabric again by allowing the water to run over it. Continue until you no longer see any signs of detergent from the garment nor the water.
- Remove the excess water from the fabric gently, try not twist it. Lay the garment out flat on a dry towel and roll that towel up so that the garment is inside of it. Then, gently press on the towel to remove the excess water. After this process, your garment will be damp, but not soaked.
Even if hand washing is the most friendly way of washing your wool pieces, we understand that machine washing is probably the most convenient way to clean clothing at home.
You can machine wash your wool keeping it in the great possible condition.
How To Wash Wool In A Washing Machine?
Washing any wool garment in a washing machine can be tricky since there are conditions which can damage the fabric and ruin the garment easily.
However, once you know the right ways and tricks to do it, there should not be any problem with machine washing wool!
In fact, machine washing wool is even recommended, especially for bigger items because it is less time-consuming than handwashing.
For the smaller items, handwashing still remains recommended because it is safer and not that time-consuming. Of course, if you cannot hand wash your smaller wool items for any reason, it is totally alright to put them in the washing machine.
Yet, please consider putting the really small items or the fragile ones in a mesh laundry bag designed for washing delicate items.
When machine washing, it is completely possible to wash wool with clothing made from other fabrics, but it is important to be careful and only wash wool with garments made from other natural fibers, such as linen or cotton, since they will require similar machine settings to wash them without causing damage.
Washing wool with artificial fabrics, for example, polyester items, is not recommended and should be avoided.
Another extremely important thing is to use a detergent made especially to take care of wool – and we will later tell you our favorite wool detergents.
It is okay to wash other fabrics with this wool detergent – in case you decide to mix everything – but wool should not be washed with any other type of detergent due to some potential damage it could cause.
What Cycle To Use?
If your washing machine happens to have a cycle made especially for wool garments, you should go for this option without a doubt.
Again, it is perfectly alright to wash other garments in this cycle as well, even if they are not made out of wool.
For example, if you decide to machine wash a linen dress, the wool cycle of your machine would be amazing since it will be extra-gentle with the dress and will not damage it.
If you do not have this special wool setting on your machine, you probably have a delicate or gentle setting instead.
You have to use one of these settings to wash wool items without damaging them. The gentle/delicate/wool setting of a washing machine does not create as much agitation in the machine as in other settings. And this creates a considerably lower chance of your wool garments being damaged.
What Is The Ideal Temperature To Machine Wash Wool Items?
You should never wash wool items with hot water since that will damage them and will cause too many non-reversible outcomes.
Cool or cold water is always preferred since it will be more gentle. For wool, the maximum temperature to wash it is generally 104°F (40°C), so always make sure to wash your wool items at a lower temperature to prevent any damage.
However, before washing any garment, always take a look at the advice given by the care tag on it.
It will always tell you how to wash it if machine washing is safe for the garment and what temperature should not be exceeded during the washing process.
Additional Advice For Machine Washing Wool Items
Here is some more advice to machine wash your wool items safely and not damage them:
- Always turn the garment inside out (if it is possible) before putting it in the washing machine. This technique will avoid potential snags on the visible part of the garment.
- Set the correct water temperature for washing as written on the care tag. Do not exceed the maximum temperature since this could damage your garment.
- Choose the wool, gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine, depending what kind of washing machine you have. Do not go for other cycles since they could be way too harsh on wool items.
- Place your small wool items in a mesh laundry bag, made especially for delicate items. These laundry bags can easily be found at any supermarket.
- Add detergent appropriately and only use a wool detergent. No need to add too much detergent since it will not clean the garment better. Too much detergent can cause chemical build-up on the fabric and is also not friendly for the environment. Always check the recommended quantities of detergent to use, they are usually written on the bottle.
- Finally, it is always a good idea to double-check your settings before starting the machine.
Wool Washing Guide
How To Wash Wool Sweaters?
We mentioned before that wool garments have to be washed less often than others – usually every two to three wears.
However, when the days become chilly, wool sweaters are one of the most worn clothing pieces used regularly, and thus, they are the ones that will be washed quite often.
Indeed, they need a bit of extra care to be preserved and to stay intact as long as possible.
Here is some advice to wash your beloved wool sweater in the safest way possible in the washing machine:
- It is very important to turn the sweater inside out. This step should not be skipped since this will prevent it from having potential snags on the visible side.
- If your sweater has a zipper, some embellishment, or is fragile since old or vintage, place it in a mesh laundry bag designed especially for delicate items to machine wash it carefully.
- Set your washing machine on a cool or cold cycle, depending on what the care tag of your item says. Always follow what is written on this tag, or you might accidentally damage your garment.
- Set your washing machine on the wool, gentle or delicate setting. Never wash wool garments with another setting as this will irrevocably ruin them.
- Add the right amount of wool detergent. Usually, people tend to add too much detergent, which can lead to chemical build-up on the fabric and will damage the item in the long run.
- Always double-check everything before starting the machine. Once you press the start button, there is no turning back, so always be careful.
Now, here is some advice if you want to hand wash your wool sweater:
- As we said before, wool sweaters are worn more often, more washed and so, they require a bit of extra care. This is why it is recommended to wash them by hand since hand washing will always be less harsh than a machine wash – even in a gentle setting. Moreover, if your sweater has a zipper, embellishments, or is vintage – and thus, more fragile – it is heavily recommended to hand wash it.
- Begin by filling your sink or basin with cold or lukewarm water. Do not use hot water, this could cause damage or shrinkage to the wool garment.
- Add the wool detergent and gently mix it into the water so it is evenly distributed.
- Submerge your sweater and let it soak for around 10 minutes.
- Gently swirl the sweater around the water to get rid of the dirt and the excess soap. Do not twist it or be harsh with it.
- Carefully rinse your item under clear water. Again, do not twist it or it might become out of shape.
- Roll the sweater up in a towel and gently press the excess water out. The sweater should be damp but not soaked.
How To Wash A Wool Blanket?
The method for washing a wool blanket is the same as the method mentioned before.
However, since blankets are large items, to be more efficient, we recommend washing them in a washing machine.
Indeed, for big blankets, machine washing is the easiest option and there is normally low risk of damage if you follow the advice given on the care tag and use the correct setting on your machine.
However, if you decide to hand wash it, please note that this will be quite time-consuming since blankets are very large.
It will not fit in a sink either, so unless you have a very large basin, we recommend washing your blanket in a bathtub.
Remember that during the soaking process, the blanket will have to be completely underwater: that is why you need a lot of water and a bathtub or very big basin to wash your blanket effectively.
How To Wash Wool Socks?
Socks can be washed both in a washing machine or hand wash, it all depends on you!
However, if you want to wash your socks in the washing machine, we recommend the use of a mesh laundry bag: before starting, put all the socks inside it and then toss them in the machine.
The mesh laundry bag will protect your socks since they are smaller garments that are usually more fragile than the bigger items. This laundry bag will avoid damaging your socks but also avoid losing one sock.
If you prefer to hand wash your wool socks, please note that you can wash all the socks at the same time. Indeed, when you hand wash garments, it is usually recommended to wash all the items one by one. This does not apply to socks since it would take so much time and it is simply not necessary.
How To Wash Wool Hats?
The most important thing to keep in mind concerning the washing of wool hats is that only the soft hats can be washed.
If you have a wool hat that is not soft or flexible, do not wash it with regular cleaning methods, you should take it to dry-clean instead.
For the soft wool hats, it is the same process as mentioned before for other wool items. Yet, if you decide to wash it in a washing machine, make sure to place the hat in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from potential damages.
Handwashing is a preferred method here because these types of items are quite fragile and usually require extra care.
Hand wash would be more gentle with your wool hat. If you choose to wash it by hand, make sure to wash it separately from other garments and not use as much detergent as you would for bigger items.
Moreover, do not twist your wool hat to get rid of the excess water at the end of the cleaning process: this would considerably damage it and make it out of shape. Instead, use the same method as for other wool items – by rolling it in a towel and gently pressing on it.
How To Wash Wool Coats?
Wool coats are a bit different from other garments because they tend to be heavier and quite stiffer than regular garments, so they can resist winter weather.
Consequently, you cannot wash them just like you would wash any other wool garment: usually, the care tags on wool coats recommend dry cleaning, simply because many wool coats have shoulder pads or lining on them.
However, you can completely wash them at home if you want; but this time, handwashing is mandatory and cannot be replaced with machine washing – it would ruin the coat.
As mentioned before, wool coats are a bit different from other wool garments, so there are some extra steps before hand washing them just like a regular wool item:
- Begin by brushing the coat using a lint brush or roller. This will get rid of quite a lot of dust on the coat and make it easier to clean later. Since coats are a kind of garment that you are wearing outside, they tend to be dustier than your other clothes since they are constantly exposed to air, pollution, dust, etc.
- Pre-treat any stains on the coat using a mild stain or spot remover. Always carefully read the tag and check that this remover can be used on wool garments. Also, keep in mind to never use bleach – bleach is a very harsh product and it is generally not good for natural fiber items and should be avoided at all cost – and do not scrub the fabric to remove the stain. If you feel like the stain needs a bit of extra help to disappear, just gently dab the stain remover onto it.
Once you have done these extra steps, just hand wash your wool coat like you would hand wash any other wool item. Of course, use a bathtub to soak your coat if it is big and cannot fit in a sink or basin.
We also recommend letting the coat soak for around half an hour instead of 10 minutes.
If you have any doubts before hand washing your wool coat or feel like you could damage it, do not take any risks and take it to the dry cleaning.
How To Wash Wool Jackets?
For a wool jacket, the steps are the same as for a coat – especially if the jacket is quite stiff and made for colder weather.
If it is a winter jacket, it is preferable to hand wash it or take it to the dry cleaning, depending on what the care tag says.
It is a lighter jacket, like one made for the spring and summer seasons, and it contains no lining or shoulder pads, you can put it in the washing machine – according to the instructions given by the care tag, obviously.
If your summer jacket is fragile or has a zipper or some embellishment, consider putting it in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from potential snags.
Of course, there is always the option of handwashing, and if you decide to go that way, depending on the size and length of your jacket, you might have to use a bathtub instead of a sink – very large and big winter jackets might not fit into regular-size sinks.
How To Wash Wool Pants and Skirts?
The technique for washing wool pants and skirts is the same as for other wool items.
Just keep in mind to always check what the care tag advises to do to be sure to not make any mistakes and to keep your wool garments intact.
Usually, for the great majority of wool pants and skirts, both machine washing and hand washing should be alright and not cause any damage to them. It is very rare that a wool pants or skirt has to be taken to the dry cleaning or can only be dry-cleaned.
However, if your item has very big stains that you cannot remove by yourself, consider taking it to professional dry cleaning.
What Are The Best Detergents For Wool Garments?
When choosing the best detergent for your wool garments, we recommend using only detergents made specifically for wool fabric to keep it in best shape and ensure longevity of your wool clothing.
It is always very handy to choose detergents which can be used both for machine washing and for handwashing – since it is very gentle, it will not damage your hands either.
Is It Possible To Wash Wool With Winegar?
Yes, it is, and vinegar is even very helpful to remove stains from wool naturally. Mixed with some water to dilute it, it will not damage your wool clothing.
However, it does not replace wool detergent, it can only be used to complement it, and you have to take some precautions with it.
Always use the vinegar separately from the detergent, do not mix them together! After the initial wash with wool detergent, drain the water as usual and replace it with clean water. Then, add about one cup of vinegar to the water and gently rinse your clothing in it.
Vinegar can also be used in the washing machine if you are not a fan of handwashing.
It is possible to add about a cup of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser of your machine. Vinegar will then be automatically released during the rinse cycle.
Washing garments with vinegar can be a bit intimidating at first because you might wonder if your garment will smell after the process – and we understand that you do not want to smell like vinegar all day long.
But do not worry, the smell of vinegar disappears on the clothing as they dry, and it is completely impossible to smell vinegar on clothes when they are completely dried.
Is It Possible To Wash Wool With Shampoo?
It is always best to buy a wool detergent of course, but if you do not have one or run out of it, shampoo can do the job as an emergency option.
Yet, we would recommend using shampoo made especially for hand washing wool since it will not damage your items.
If you don’t have one, baby shampoos can do the job since they are usually free of chemicals and more gentle. Do not use shampoo for your hair since first, it can damage the garment, and second, it can cause chemical build-up in it.
Of course, this shampoo technique can only be used for handwashing – use the very same method as for handwashing with a regular wool detergent.
Can You Use Fabric Softener On Wool?
We know it sounds like a nice idea to make your wool item amazingly soft and cozy, yet it will not actually make the fabric softer and should not be used on wool.
Indeed, fabric softener can be very bad and damaging for wool: it would coat the natural fibers and interfere with some of the natural qualities of wool such as its moisture-wicking and stain-resistant abilities.
Moreover, using fabric softener and wool can also have the opposite effect than the one desired since it can leave the fabric less soft due to some chemical build-up.
Clean and Care Guide for Wool
How To Dry Wool?
The most important thing we advise you is that you should not dry wool in the dryer: this is the leading cause of wool shrinking. Indeed, even on the lowest setting, the dryer is still too hot for wool items and creates high risk to damage them.
Wool should air dry naturally. But, when you air dry it, avoid hanging your items up because it can stretch the fabric out of shape.
The best way to efficiently dry wool garments is in fact to lay them on a towel or drying rack to dry flat. It is also best to dry your wool items in a well-ventilated area that is not too hot.
The area should also be free of moisture as much as possible so wool will dry quicker and more effectively.
However, sometimes, some wool items say on the care label that they can be tumble-dried. Accordingly to the tag, use your dryer on the lowest setting possible – usually the low-heat or air-dry setting.
Yet, keep in mind that heat combined with the tumbling motion of the dryer can cause shrinking.
Dry Cleaning Wool at Home
Care tags on wool items sometimes say your garment can only be dry-cleaned – that is usually the case if a garment has embellishments on it.
Dry cleaning is then recommended because it is the safest way to prevent potential snags on the garment.
If you do not have dry cleaning available close to where you live, do not forget that home dry cleaning kits can be purchased in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket.
These kits are specially made for very delicate fabrics like wool, cashmere, or silk – so of course, it is safe to use them on fragile wool items.
However, keep in mind that the “Dry Clean Only” mention on care tags is usually just a simple precaution since the great majority of wool items can be hand-washed safely.
Best Way To Store Wool Clothing
Storing your wool items properly is an essencial part of the process of caring for them and preserving it.
Folding wool garments is always more preferable than hanging them since this can damage the in the means of shape, especially if hung when not completely dry.
Even if totally dry, hanging wool garments for an extended period of time can cause them to stretch and become misshapen.
The best way to store them is indeed to place the wool items in a basket with a lid or in a vacuum-sealed bag.
If you cannot do that and only have the possibility to hang them, hang them inside a garment bag to protect them as much as possible and only use wooden or padded hangers.
Of course, you should only store your wool items when they have been cleaned and are completely dried.
We have gathered all our knowledge on how to take care and how to wash wool at home and we hope you will find it helpful!
Washing wool requires a little bit of research if never done before, but once you clean it one, you will should not have any doubts or concerns since wool is care-friendly and wonderful.