Did you know that wool should never be washed in laundry detergent which isn’t specifically for wool or silk? This is because the detergent you’d normally use for your cottons etc is too alkaline and over time will cause the wool fibres to break. Wool loves to be washed in a detergent with a low pH which is why there are special detergents for wool.
Did you know that fabric conditioners/softeners are really bad for wool? This is because fabric conditioners are designed to remove the static from synthetic fibres. Wool is a natural fibre and does not produce static. But more importantly, if you use fabric softener on wool, the fibres will absorb it which will then make it hard for the fibres to “breathe” and make wool very unhappy.
Should you need to wash your rug you can either hand-wash it, or pop it in the machine. But firstly, go into the garden and give your rug a good shake to dislodge any dust and dirt.
- Fill a tub with lukewarm water (no hotter than 30’c).
- Add a wool/silk detergent
- Gently immerse the rug face down
- Swish it around a little and leave to soak for an hour or so
- Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with lukewarm water and a big squeeze of sulphate free hair conditioner
- Leave the rug to soak for a couple of hours
- Drain and refill the tub with cool water and a splash of vinegar (white or distilled). I use apple cider vinegar which is fine too. The vinegar will remove any soapy residue and restore the wool back to its preferred pH. Repeat the vinegary rinse until the water runs clear. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to the final vinegar rinse. This is great for deterring moths, lavender, cedar wood or tea tree are all affective
- Lay the rug flat to dry with the curls facing upwards
- Set your machine to the handwash/wool & silk cycle at no more than 30’c
- Splash some vinegar and essential oil into the rinse drawer
Sometimes machine washing can cause the wool to go a little fluffy, if this happens you could soak the rug in hair conditioner as described above in the “optional step”. The hair conditioner and air drying will encourage the locks to re-form and remove the fluffiness. Don’t forget to rinse in cool water with a splash of vinegar.
- Once the rug is dry, go through the wool with your fingers and gently tease up any locks which might have flattened down and tease apart any locks which might have clumped together. I would not recommend brushing, read on to find out why.
A little note about brushing:
Did you know that most wools don’t respond well to being brushed?
I wouldn’t recommend brushing fine-woolled, long woolled and curly-woolled fleeces. Initially they might look alright after a brush – if you like the fluffy look. However, after a short while you will find the wool going bobbly, matted and becoming dull. It’s as if the wool loses its way in life and gives up. Unfortunately such fleeces cannot be rescued from this state, even with multiple soaks in hair conditioner and vinegar rinses. Such wools will have lost their lock structure for ever and there’s nothing that can be done sadly.
But for those people who enjoy brushing out wool you’ll be happy to know that some wools do respond well to being brushed. These are the courser woolled fleeces such as Herdwick. (Check the “wool micron chart” for more information on wool characteristics). Course woolled fleeces look and feel fabulous after being brushed. This said, after brushing a course woolled fleece, I would still advise soaking it in hair conditioner, rinsing in cool water with a dash of vinegar and a few drops of lavender oil and then air drying. This soothes the wool and retrieves a little of the original structure and achieves a more natural look.