Many of our winter wardrobes are choc-full of woolen clothing — and for a good reason! Wool is an elastic fiber that comes from sheep, goats, alpaca, camel, llama, and vicuña. It is an incredible insulator, making it one of the warmest fabrics to wear in winter. And it’s timeless! Seriously, every cold-weather outfit looks better with wool.
Wool is also naturally odor-resistant, meaning it usually needs less washing. Great for you and the planet. But when it is time to clean your wool clothes, this guide has everything you need to know about washing wool. So you can enjoy that chunky knit sweater, those merino socks, and that cashmere cardigan for a little longer. And it’s easier than you think!
The answer is,you can do both. Handwashing is the safest way to wash wool as it is gentler. But many wool garments can be easily washed in the machine. Just always follow the care label to make sure it is machine washable. In some cases, hand washing and machine washing can be better than dry-cleaning. The solvents and enzyme-heavy detergent used at the dry-cleaners can wear out wool and cashmere which may shorten their lifespan.
- Fill the tub with lukewarm (not hot) water and add a delicate detergent specific for wool. Follow the product instructions for the amount needed.
- Add your wool garment and swish it around, distributing the soap.
- Soak for up to 30 minutes.
- Rinse well under running water.
- Don’t wring wool as it can stretch the fabric. Instead, press dry by rolling in a towel. Then dry flat in its natural shape.
- Turn the garment inside out and place it in a mesh bag.
- Add wool detergent according to the machine and load size.
- Select the wool or delicate cycle on the machine. Your machine will then wash at a lower temperature and on a gentler spin.
- Remove garments as soon as the cycle finishes to reduce wrinkles and keep them smelling fresh.
- Dry flat in its natural shape. Avoid hanging or putting wool clothes in the dryer.
You’ve got the basics down! Here’s how to clean specific woolen items:
- Check the care label first. Most are machine washable, which means you can safely machine wash without damage or shrinkage. In most cases, wool is washed at 104°F degrees or colder.
- Turn inside out and place in a mesh bag to protect it.
- Add wool-safe detergent and set the machine to the wool or delicate cycle.
- Turn your socks inside out and make sure they are not in a ball.
- Machine wash on a gentle or wool cycle. Avoid hot water so as not to shrink your socks!
- Add wool-safe detergent. Don’t use softener as it can coat merino wool fibers, making it less good at regulating heat and wicking away moisture.
- Some merino socks can be tumble-dried. You can always air-dry.
Bonus: because merino wool is odor-resistant and breathable, your socks don’t get as smelly fast. So you can wear them longer and wash them less. If you like!
- Check the care label first. Machine or hand wash in cold or lukewarm water no warmer than 68°F (20°C). If machine washing, put your cashmere cardigan in a mesh bag or pillowcase.
- Add wool-safe detergent. And always avoid softener, which can alter cashmere’s natural softness!
- The drying process is important when caring for cashmere. Dry cashmere flat on a towel, away from any source of heat.
With these wool-washing tricks up your sleeve, say goodbye to shrunken sweaters and misshapen merino forever!