How to Wash Wool

Wool is an extremely delicate material that is prone to shrinking, but that does not mean that you cannot wash your wool items from time to time. Hand wash your garment by soaking it soapy water, then rinsing and air drying it. You can also machine wash your garment on the wool or delicates setting, then air dry your wool garment. After drying, you may have to gently stretch your wool garment back to its original size to combat shrinkage.

Fill a bucket with water and soap.

Fill a bucket with water and soap.

Fill up a clean bucket or tub with lukewarm water, then add a mild liquid detergent formulated for delicate fabrics and materials. Check the label for instructions on how much detergent to add, or add about ½ cup (118.29 ml).

Add the wool piece.

Add the wool piece.

Place the wool garment into the bucket of soapy water and dunk it to completely wet it. Then use your hands to gently swish the wool item around in the water for about a minute.



This gentle swishing mimics the motion of a washing machine and allows the soap to pass through the wool and remove dirt or impurities.

Let the garment soak for ten minutes.

Let the garment soak for ten minutes.

After about a minute of swishing the wool item around in the water, let the garment sit and soak in the water for about ten minutes.

Remove the sweater and press out excess water.

Remove the sweater and press out excess water.

After ten minutes, take the wool garment out of the water. Roll the wool item from one corner to another into a ball and squeeze the balled garment to press out excess water, then place the garment aside.



Empty the bucket and fill with water.

Empty the bucket and fill with water.

Empty the bucket or tub entirely of the soapy water. Then fill the tub back up with clean, tepid water so that you can rinse the wool again.

Swish the wool item in the clean water.

Swish the wool item in the clean water.

Place the wool garment back in the tub of clean water, then swish it around just as you did before. Swishing the garment will wash the remaining soap out of the wool.

Repeat rinsing if necessary.

Repeat rinsing if necessary.

The one wash in clean water should have removed all of the laundry soap. However, if the water is extremely soapy and it seems like there is still soap ingrained in the wool, pour the water out, fill it back up with clean water, and repeat the process of swishing the garment around in the clean water.

Read the care label.

Read the care label.

Machine washing a wool garment has a greater probability of shrinking the item, so it’s important to check the wool item’s care label before machine washing.

If the label says hand wash, it’s best to hand wash your sweater rather than machine wash. Only machine wash the garment if it is recommended on the tag.

Place the item in a mesh bag.

Place the item in a mesh bag.

Put the wool item in a mesh delicates bag to protect the wool material from snagging inside the machine. Though it isn’t absolutely necessary to use a mesh bag, it can protect the delicate fibers of the wool item from damage.

Set the machine to the wool setting.

Set the machine to the wool setting.

Most washing machines have a wool setting that is set up specifically to wash wool garments. If your machine doesn’t have a wool setting, set the washing machine to coldest setting, which will protect the wool from shrinking.

Some machines have a hand washing setting, which you can also use as it is quite gentle.

Add delicate laundry detergent.

Add delicate laundry detergent.

Add a laundry detergent formulated for wools or delicates, using its label to approximate how much you will need.

Place the wool item in the machine.

Place the wool item in the machine.

After you turn on the wash settings and have added the soap, place the wool item in the machine. Close the machine and wash the garment until the cycle is over.

Soak up water with a towel.

Soak up water with a towel.

Lay a clean, dry towel out on a counter or other flat surface, then lay the wool garment on top of the towel. Roll the towel from one corner to the other with the wool item inside.

The clean towel will help to absorb the excess water from the wool so that it will take a shorter time to air dry.

Squeeze the rolled towel.

Squeeze the rolled towel.

When the towel is rolled completely, gently squeeze the roll from one end to another. Don’t twist or wring the rolled towel, as this can damage the fibers of the wool.

Lay the wool garment out to air dry.

Lay the wool garment out to air dry.

Unroll the towel and take out the wool item. Lay out another clean towel, then place the wool garment on top of the clean towel to air dry. To speed up the process of drying, place a fan or dehumidifier in front of the drying wool.

Do not hang up the wool garment on a hanger to dry, as this can cause the item to stretch and become misshapen.

Stretch the wool if it has shrunk.

Stretch the wool if it has shrunk.

Exposure to water sometimes has the effective of shrinking a wool garment. If your garment looks smaller than it was before washing, stretch it while it is still damp, starting by stretching it from top to bottom, then working up the garment while you stretch it side to side. Also stretch the sleeves if your garment is a shirt or sweater.

You can also stretch the garment and pin it in place to the towel with sewing pins so that it dries stretched out, but this should be a last resort since it sometimes warps the pinned areas.

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