How to Wash Wool at Home Without Ruining It, According to a Laundry Pro

published Dec 10, 2023
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Your wool garments see a lot of extra love during the colder months of the year, thanks to the way that the thick fabric insulates and protects against the chilly winter weather. But if you’re not following the correct washing instructions when it comes to your wool fabrics, you might not be giving it the kind of care and attention it needs in return. According to Hannah Yokoji, brand director at The Laundress, there is a right and wrong way to wash wool.

Quick Overview

How to Wash Wool

The best way to wash wool at home is to hand-wash it with a fabric-specific cleaner, according to Hannah Yokoji, brand director at The Laundress. You’ll want to add the detergent to a tub or basin of cool water, then soak the wool garment for 30 minutes. Rinse under cool water, then lay flat to dry. You can also machine wash it or take it to a professional, depending on what the care instructions say.

How to Wash Wool

According to Yokoji, the best way to wash wool at home is to hand wash with a fabric-specific formula, like The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo. These types of garment cleaners are optimized to be used in cold water, which is a must when it comes to cleaning wool.

How to Hand Wash Wool

“Hand-washing is the gentlest method of washing wool, as it allows the most control over water temperature and agitation,” Yokoji explains, adding that you should always add your detergent (or, in this case, shampoo) to your tub or basin with cool water before adding your clothes. “Soak your wool item for up to 30 minutes,” she continues. “Rinse well by running cool water through the item until the water is no longer soapy.”

How to Machine-Wash Wool

While some delicate wool items should be hand-washed, Yokoji says that many wool garments such as heavy sweaters, blankets, and even some coats can be machine-laundered. “First, turn the item inside out, and place it in a mesh bag to add an extra layer of protection,” she says. Next, you’ll need to use your washer’s delicate setting, low spin cycle, and cold water. Then add your detergent according to the load size. Once your machine has finished, Yokoji says it’s imperative that you promptly remove your items from the washing machine to prevent wrinkling. 

How to Dry Wool

Once your wool has been washed and rinsed it’s going to need a little extra help getting dry. Whatever you do to rid your wool of excess water, Yokoji says you need to avoid wringing the fabric. “Instead, gently press the water out of the wool item in between your hands, then lay flat to dry,” she says, adding that the safest and only way to dry wool is by air drying. 

“To expedite the process, start by laying your wet wool item flat on a clean towel,” she continues. “With the item in its original shape, roll it up in the towel (like a sleeping bag) to remove excess water. Then, lay your woolen flat in its natural shape on a drying rack or on top of a clean towel to dry.” For the best results, she says you can use your hands to reshape your item and gently press away wrinkles. 

When You Need a Professional

If your wool item is tagged specifically as “dry clean only” or “do not wash,” Yokoji says it’s likely not supposed to get wet and should be taken to a professional, like a dry cleaner.

How to Keep Wool Clean Between Washes

Steaming with a hand steamer is a great option for freshening non-washable woolens at home between wears, according to Yokoji who says you should always test this process in an inconspicuous spot before treating the whole thing. 

“When it comes to treating your woolens like heirlooms, a gentle care routine is not complete without proper storage methods to protect your fabrics post-wash,” she says. “We recommend storing wool knits folded to prevent stretching or distorting that hanging can cause.” 

You can store bulkier items like jackets and suits using a solid structured hanger, and for long-term storage, you can use sturdy, yet breathable cotton or canvas zippered bags. “Always launder woolens before putting them away for the summer season, as critters are attracted to residue from sweat and body oils (even those you can’t smell yourself),” she concludes.

It seems pretty clear that if you take care of your wool then your wool will take care of you, which means it may be around for years when properly maintained.