Top tips for Wool Fabric Care

what is wool

For most of us wool is not just wool. Wool is warmth as well as style – the ultimate in comfortable trendy everyday wear.

Wool is warm – an understatement if any. Do you know that the wool keeps you warm by trapping the warm air inside;  it can even feel warm when it is wet.This insulating quality makes it, the must have fabric in cold climate . Interestingly wool can keep you cold in warmer climates. It is waterproof. well almost.  It is moisture wicking and can take a lot of water before it feels really wet. It is also somewhat fire repellant and stain resistant. There are many such reasons other than that it is a very durable fabric that makes it a favourite for making clothes. But How to clean it – that is a million dollar question. 

Home laundering, as well as dry cleaning, works in caring for woolen clothes.Hand washing of woolen garments is perfectly alright so long as it is marked so in its label ” washable wool” and some precautions are taken. If three things are kept out of the purview of wool, you are safe – Heat, moths and alkalic stains

Some characteristic of wool which bugs me

Shrinkage – this is a pain; You buy a sweater and after one or two washes it wouldn’t fit a 10 year younger you.

Dry cleaning label on most wool clothes. I donot like dry cleaning because of the chemicals and the money. But with expensive wool clothes there may not be an option out of it

Some woollen clothes irritates skin – especially allergic prone  people with sensitive skin. You have to be careful with woollen clothes in this way.

Appearance of small wool balls on the surface of woollen fabric – it is also called piling and it is irritating and unsightly – this piling usually goes off after some washes

When washing most woolen clothes stretches out of shape; though It is relatively easy to bring it down to its original shape with some manipulation. Washing by washing machine is mostly out of question

Spot cleaning wool

The time to remove stain from wool is as soon as the stain occurs. Do not wait. Blotting the area with a clean towel by dabbing the area gently ( never rub) works for removing fresh stains . If you are using a spot cleaner or detergent remember to take it off by blotting with a wet cloth. But do not rub too much or too long.  

How to care for woolen clothes

Pure wool is quite easy to maintian. It is quite resistant to heat and if the above fabric care label symbols are taken care of, will remain in tip top condition for many many years.

Always brush the wool garment after each and every wear. This will remove small dirt.

Empty all pockets and hang for 1-2 hours to shake out the wrinkles and then store flat.You can also make sure that the garment do not get too much dirty with sweat and body oils by wearing a slip / petticoat between the wool fabric and your body. 

I never ever stretch woolen fabric or clothes made of them when they are wet. They have an elasticity which stretches the fibers  and when they are wet they are extremely susceptible to damage. They may permanently remain stretched. So no wringing or twisting of woolen clothes to remove water after handwashing.

When washing woolen clothes (which is marked ok to hand wash) if I am sure that the garment is going to bleed I set the colours with a small soak of water mixed with some vinegar. Some people also recommend salt solution.

I always use extra gentle liquid ph balanced detergent ( designed for woolen fabric) and cold water for washing woolen clothes – not the generic detergent. Also like silk give a final rinse with a water mixed with a few drops of hair conditioner. Remember that Like hair , wool is a natural fiber and will shine with this pampering

Woolen clothes stretch which is bad when storing it. Hanging wool garments inside a cupboard for a long time also will stretch the fabric fibers permanently.The edges of the hangers will distort the shoulder area. Fold and lie flat for storage.

Never ever hang the wet woolen cloth for drying after a wash or hold it by the shoulder area. Lay down flat to dry after the wash after absorbing extra water with a clean towel.  This will prevent stretching somewhat. You will get special mesh screens to lay the woolen clothes to dry so that it can dry from the top and underneath. Towel racks can manage if you donot get these.

A quality drycleaning center can be your ally in keeping premium woolen clothes in excellent condition. Ensure that they donot come out with that chemical smell. That means that the center is not up to the mark. A good quality place will clean your woolen clothes with enough steam and appropriate cleaning solutions making it clean and smell good too

One easy hack to take out wrinkles out of woolen clothes is to hang them in a shower area overnight. The humidity in the place will naturally iron out the wool fabric like magic.

I always keep small moth balls and nice smelling herbs inside a perforated pouch and keep this near my woolen clothes ( without touching the clothes of course) Exposure to sunlight ( not too long) can also prevent mildew growth and kill moth larvae. I have read somewhere that keeping the garment in the fridge for some time ( 48 hours or so ) also can kill the larvae. Sunlight will do for me. My fridge is overcrowded as it is

Some have success with storing wool with cedar chips/blocks or the items itself in cedar chests.

Do not despair when you see tiny holes in your woolen garment made by those hated moths ( insects) They are totally repairable. Most probably you have got some spare thread with the garment which matches the thread. With some practice you can repair the hole by weaving into the  fabric with the thread and fill the hole.It will look almost as if the hole was not there. The woolen cloth was made by weaving – so repairing by weaving is an easy and understandable solution

Special care for special wools

Performance wool – Garments made of this blended wool should never be exposed to high heat from an iron – it will end up looking shiny. Dry cleaning also should be done carefully on this wool.

Or use clothing patches on the holes ( Checkout the tutorials to make the clothing patches and the different ways to sew the clothing patches )


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