Nothing beats the comfort of a warm woollen jumper, but when it comes to wool clothing, you may not be aware of the special care it requires to keep your woollen garments looking good.
You go to wash that woollen jumper and then ask yourself how to unshrink wool, or wonder whether you need a wool detergent. Find out everything about washing wool and how to care for your woollen garments!
What is wool and how to wash wool fabrics?
Wool is a natural fibre from the fleece of a sheep. After sheep are shorn, the wool is sorted, cleaned and spun into yarn. It produces a very thick and warm fabric, but it also requires delicate care. Since wool is a natural fibre, it breathes easily and it’s also non-allergenic. Wool can be blended with other fibres, like silk or nylon to combine their various properties. Wool is prone to shrinking, and unless the fabric is blended with other fibres, it can be difficult to wash.
Since wool fabric is thick and warm, it’s great for knitwear, like jumpers or scarves, but you can even get woollen dresses, cardigans, hats, scarves and even socks!
Because it is such a delicate fabric, most people prefer washing their favourite wool sweater by hand, for the added feel of security they get from being in close contact with their garment throughout the whole laundry process. However, wool fabrics (even 100% wool garments) can also be safely washed in a washing machine, you just have to use a mild laundry detergent and make sure to wash on a low temperature, quick wash setting (anything below 30 Celsius), to prevent shrinkage and other damages to the fabric. Look for the “hand wash-” or “wool cycle”!
If you want to keep your woollen clothes in top shape, follow the below guidelines:
- Always check the fabric care label before washing.
- If the garment is hand washable, then your wool wash temperature should always be in cold water with a mild detergent suited to wool.
- If you have items that are machine washable, then garments with low wool content can be washed on cool and gentle cycles with wool washing liquid, along with Lenor fabric conditioner.
- Wash your wool fabrics less frequently. If staining occurs, try to spot-clean first, instead of adding it to your laundry pile.
- Always turn your wool garments inside out before washing them.
- Always wash wool in cold water, as warm water causes wool to shrink.
- Do NOT wash your wool garments with Ariel, as it may damage the fabric.
How to dry, iron and store wool fabrics?
After you’re done washing your wool garment, it’s time for it to dry. Wool fabrics should not be tumble dried as this can shrink the garments. Because of this, you will have to dry wool naturally by laying the garment flat on a dry towel, placing another towel on top, and rolling them up to squeeze out excess water. Finally, unroll the towels and stretch out the sweater, then leave it flat to dry.
Most woollen garments, like knits, won’t suffer from creasing, but garments that are fibre blends may require ironing. Set your iron to a wool or medium setting. Avoid high temperatures as these can lead to scorch marks. Lay the garment down and reshape by hand, spray with a bit of water and use the steam function while ironing. You’ll want to store wool in a cool and dry place. Prevent any damage to the fabrics by laying the garments flat. Store your wool in cedar chests, or even with cedar chips and mothballs to prevent moths from getting at the fibres. Dry cleaning will also help keep those insects away.
How to unshrink wool?
Accidents will happen, and not even your favourite wool sweater is safe. If you’ve managed to shrink your garment by mistake (for example, by accidently washing it on a hot water cycle), you may still have a slim chance to save it from the garbage bag, but you have to be quick about it. Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add about 80 millilitres of hair conditioner. Place your sweater inside the sink and let it soak for 10 minutes, then drain the sink and gently squeeze the garment to rinse water out of it. While your sweater is still wet, carefully stretch the material by laying it flat between two layers of absorbent towels, and securing the edges with sewing pins. Finally, keep your sweater flat until it dries, and hope for the best!
Caring tips for your wool fabrics
- Treat small stains by rinsing them with cold water and blotting dry with a clean cloth.
- To remove excess water after washing, roll the garment in a towel.
- When travelling, loosely roll up or fold your woollen garments in tissue paper to keep the garment in good condition.
- You can freshen up any wrinkled woollen item by hanging it up in a steamy bathroom.
- Give your wools a dry cleaning once a season to keep them in good shape.
Different fabrics like wool and natural fibres like silk also require special care and special products. Whether you’re removing tough stains or looking to care for your other fabrics, Ariel gives you outstanding results in the 1st wash.