Wool is a natural product and has a number of unique qualities which make it outstanding as a material for clothing and home furnishings.
The structure of a wool fibre is similar to that of hair: each shaft of fibre is composed of overlapping scales. Agitating or rubbing wool when it is wet (especially warm and wet) can cause the fibres to twist and the scales to interlock, a process better known as felting. This is why we recommend that you only wash your wool products gently by hand, not in a washing machine!
To handwash your woollen items, fill a sink with warm water and add some soap recommended for wool and delicates (ordinary laundry detergent is too harsh). Put your items into the water and gently press them down until they are soaked through. This can take a few minutes as wool can absorb quite a lot of water. Leave the wool to soak for a few minutes, then gently squeeze the wool under water a few times to work the soap through. Drain the water from the sink, then squeeze as much water as you can out of the item. Carefully support it when you lift it out of the sink – don’t hold it by one end as the weight of the water can pull it out of shape. Fill the sink with tepid clean water and put the item in again. Squeeze the water through, then drain, squeeze the water out and carefully remove. Repeat the rinse process at least once more. The item can then be spun in a spin dryer or rolled in a clean towel to extract the rest of the water. Dry, preferably flat for larger items, out of full sunlight.
Wool is naturally hygeinic, so it doesn’t have to be washed every time it is worn or used. Just air the item well to make sure it is thoroughly dry before putting it away. Wool can hold up to a third of its weight in water before feeling damp, so it’s important to make sure an item is completely dry before storing to avoid problems with mustiness.
Clothes moths can be attacted to woollen items – they lay eggs which hatch into larvae which eat the wool. Prevention is better than cure here – make sure items are clean and dry, and put them straight away when dry. Lavendar bags or proprietary moth repellents can be used in drawers or wardrobes if you wish. Moths can be more of a problem when left undisturbed, so check your stored items regularly.