Tips for washing wool
So! You've spent weeks and months lovingly knitting a jumper and feeling hesitant to wash it in fear that it will shrink or felt? Fear not! Stain removal and washing wool is not as difficult and scary as you think. Here are some simple tips for freshen up or washing knitted garments.
Woollen knitted garments are actually very easy to keep clean. The reason is that wool has a combination of natural superpowers that no other material has:
· Wool is self-cleaning
· Wool has natural protection against dirt and grime
· Wool retains moisture
· Wool is antistatic
First rule: Always use wool detergent and NEVER fabric softer
Remove odours with ventilation
The best way to keep a knitted garment looking good for as long as possible is to avoid washing it too often.
So the first thing you should consider is whether you need to wash the knitted garment at all. In most cases, it is actually unnecessary to wash woollen clothes, unless they have become really dirty. The reason is that wool has good protection against bacteria that create the smell and is thus self-cleaning. You can mostly hang the garment up to air it out to get rid of the smell.
Tip! Take advantage of a chilly autumn or winters day to give your wool a proper spa treatment: Hang your knitted garment out and let the cold air do the job of freshen up those woolly fibers.
Stain removal on knitted garments
Should you get stains on your wool garment, they are easy to remove if you take care of them immediately. Wool contains lanolin, a natural fat that protects the fibers from dirt and grime. If you wipe off the stains as soon as possible, they will usually come off easily.
The rinse (Don't rub!) method:
Rinse off with running warm water directly on and through the stain. Hot water does not hurt the wool, it can only damage the wool fibres if you combine hot water with friction or rubbing. So just let the hot water run straight through the stain – don’t rub or dab it.
Spot wash method:
If the rinse method is not budging the stain and it needs more of a wash, it is important to do so with lukewarm water that feels a little cool on the skin. Moisten the stain, apply a little wool detergent and rub very gently on the stain. Finally, rinse off the soap.
Checklist before washing wool
If airing and stain removal are not enough, here are some advice before you start washing wool.
The very first thing you should do is check the label on the ball of yarn you have used. There you will find the wash care symbols that are the same as found on any purchased clothing items and textiles.
On the label you will find recommendations for
· machine wash or hand wash
· washing temperature
· drying and centrifugation
DROPS Baby Merino, Big Merino and Merino Extra Fine are a Superwash treated yarns which means they should be washed in the machine, using a gentle cycle program.
Alpaca, mohair, silk and untreated wool should be hand washed.
Different wool fibers can react differently to washing, so always check the label on the skein.
Tip! If you’ve made a test patch to check the knitting tension, you can use it as a wash test. If the patch hasn’t shrunk after washing, you can be more confident that your knitted garment will also do well in the washing machine.
If hand washing is recommended:
Use plenty of water. The temperature of the water should feel slightly cool on the back of the hand. Use soap intended for wool, put the garment in the the water and squeeze it gently. Be careful not to twist and rub too hard. Wool should not be soaked, so when you have washed the garment, rinse it immediately. Use the same water temperature, rinse, change water and rinse again. Repeat the rinse until the water is clear.
Use the correct detergent
When washing your knitwear, you should use detergents intended for wool. The reason is that many soaps contain bleaching agents, enzymes and other substances that can destroy the wool fibers and create holes in your knitted garments. NEVER use fabric softener (the wool fibers become too soft and can slide apart).
Drying of freshly washed woollen garments
Because wool has an amazing ability to absorb a lot of moisture, it also becomes very heavy after washing. If you dry the woollen garment incorrectly after washing, the garment may lose its shape and stretch significantly.
If you’ve used the washing machine, it will spin out much of the water so that you can hang it to dry in the usual way. If the garment is still heavy, you may want to dry it flat to keep its shape.
If you’ve washed by hand, you can still sometimes use a low spin cycle in the machine to get as much of the water out, a great tip is to put the knit inside a pillowcase first. If you’d like play it safe and avoid the washing machines spinning power, you should work out as much water as possible in other ways. Avoid twisting the garment at all costs. Instead, put it on a towel, roll it up and squeeze out the water. Then lay the garment to dry on a flat surface, on a dry towel. Reshape while it’s drying.