It’s warm, it’s soft, and it’s cosy: there’s nothing like snuggling up under a woolly jumper or blanket to keep out the chill. But you’ve heard the wool wash horror stories. The woolly jumper turned into a woolly hand puppet in the machine, the cardigan that bobbled so much that your friend had to shave it more often than his beard. Yes, washing wool can be tough – but it doesn’t have to be.
So: how can you wash wool safely? Is the washing machine really a no-go? What’s the best way to care for your favourite jumper? Let’s talk wool.
First, the cardinal rule of the wool wash: no biological detergents
Biological detergents are great at removing stains from a wide range of fabrics, but you really don’t want to use them in your wool wash.
Why? The stain-busting power of biological detergent comes from enzymes, which “eat” through protein-based stains (appetising things like blood, sweat, or food). Sadly, wool fibres are made up of proteins, too, and your bio detergent can’t tell the difference. Stick with a mild detergent specially formulated to care for delicate fabrics – Persil Silk & Wool is a good choice.
How to wash wool blankets and jumpers
The first thing to do is check out the garment care label – some wool items can be washed in the machine, whereas others need slightly more gentle treatment. Here’s how to deal with both scenarios.
Washing wool in the machine:
- Set the machine to the wool wash programme. Your machine should have a specific programme for washing wool – it’ll be labelled as the wool or delicates cycle, or possibly “hand wash”. Set the machine to this cycle.
Pro tip: If you have to set the spin cycle on your machine separately from the main wash programme, remember to set it to “low” or even switch it off altogether when you’re washing wool. Wool fibres can be damaged if they’re spun in the machine, so if your machine’s delicates cycle doesn’t automatically suspend the spin cycle, make sure it’s turned down as low as possible.
- Wash the garment or blanket using a specially formulated detergent. Something like Persil Silk & Wool should be gentle enough.
- If you haven’t used a spin cycle in your wash, gently squeeze out any excess water. Lay the garment flat on a dry towel and then roll the towel up to gently press out moisture.
- Dry naturally, and dry flat. Avoid hanging wool garments up to dry – wet wool is heavy and can stretch and lose its shape. Wherever possible, dry woolly fabrics flat on a towel.
Washing wool by hand:
- Fill a basin or tub with lukewarm water and add Persil Silk & Wool. Check the packaging for the right dosage.
- Place your wool blanket or jumper in the basin and gently swirl it around. Pay particular attention to any stained or smelly areas – you can treat these by gently massaging a drop of your detergent into the area if need be.
- Rinse in clean lukewarm water, and dry as before.
There you have it: washing wool can be pretty painless after all. Still got questions? Check out this article on how to wash wool jumpers for more information.