Alternate post titles:
- How to Wash a Wool…Whatever
- How to Wash Wool in General
- How to Wash Wool Without Paying a Small Fortune or the Soul of Your Firstborn Child to a Dry Cleaner
- How to Wash Wool Winningly Without a Weary Wallet
Ahem. Moving on.
A disclaimer: If you have a wool item that needs to be cleaned and it is irreplaceable, a family heirloom, something you cannot afford to replace should you ruin it, something that is worth a lot of money, something that can beam you up to the mothership, or is just in general an item you would be supremely pissed and/or distraught if it were ruined; TAKE IT TO A DRY CLEANER!!!!
This post was written because I am a major cheap-o. When a garment’s care tag says ‘Dry Clean Only,’ my first reaction is, ‘Wanna bet?’ I live in a very small town and the nearest dry cleaner is rather expensive, and I would have to go out of my way to get there. I also have this funny notion that people were cleaning wool for hundreds of years before the advent of dry cleaners, so I don’t see why I can’t clean wool myself at home.
In conclusion, I cannot be held responsible if you try this and ruin something. Mmmkay? Not my fault. This method works for me, and I cannot promise it will work for you. Attempt this at your own risk.
Alrighty. Now that that’s out of the way.
First, grab your coat or whatever item needs cleaning. This is my nice winter coat. It’s a wool/nylon/cashmere blend that I bought last fall in Wyoming. It hasn’t been cleaned since I bought it. At all.
You can see it’s a bit, ah, gross.
So, first things first. Wool has a major, major tendency to shrink. I did a bit of digging around online and read that wool shrinks because of too much agitation. (I have no idea if that’s true. But I grabbed that ball and ran with it.) When cleaning wool, remember three very important things – use cold water, agitate the item as little as humanly possible, and use a small amount of a very mild detergent. For a light cleaning you could use just water and forget the detergent altogether.
Because this is a large coat, I cleaned it in my bathtub. I filled the tub with a few inches of cold water, and added a teeny tiny amount of mild detergent.
I put the coat in, wool-side down. I made sure to lay it as flat as possible. Instead of swishing it around in the water, I just gently moved the entire coat back and forth in the water for a few minutes.
Then I removed the coat, which was a feat in itself because it weighed about 430 pounds. At this point you can give it a rinse in fresh water if you like.
I let most of the excess water drip from the coat, then quickly ran it into the laundry room. I put it in the wash machine and spun it on the gentle cycle. Spinning is not agitating, so this step should not harm the coat.
If you would rather not spin your item, here’s what you can do: Lay down towels flat on the floor. Put your coat on the towels and make sure it’s nice and flat. Then roll it up in the towels to squeeze out the excess water.