There’s nothing cosier on a wet, chilly winter’s day than snuggling into your favourite woolly jumper. But when the time comes to launder it, you can’t just toss it in the wash with the rest of your gear. Even machine-washable woollen clothes need a little bit of TLC to keep them looking their best. Here are our top tips for laundering your woollen clothes.
Use an enzyme-free detergent.
Whether you’re washing by hand or machine, you should use a delicate fabric detergent that is designed especially for wool or silk. The enzymes in standard laundry powder or liquid will destroy the protein in woollen fibres, weakening the fabric and increasing the risk of holes.
Gently does it
Wool mats easily when friction is applied and can shrink if you move it around too much when it’s wet. So, if you’re hand washing your woollen clothes, give them a gentle swish and then leave them to soak for 10-30 minutes. Rinse in cool water and squeeze dry – never wring them out! If your garments are machine-washable, place them in a protective laundry bag, and use the delicate or wool cycle, which will agitate and spin at lower speeds.
Keep it cool
While hot water itself doesn’t damage woollen clothes, as soon as you introduce motion into the equation, the risk of shrinking your clothing increases dramatically. So, to be safe, wash your woollens in cold or tepid water.
Treat stains promptly
Due to the porous nature of woollen fibres, stains can set quickly, so don’t delay treating them. Blot the stain from the outside, working towards the middle, with a lint-free cloth. This will help to stop the stain from spreading. Then sponge the area gently with a solution of one part water and one part isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar. Lastly, soak the garment in cool water with an approved wool detergent. If the stain is oily, sprinkling baking soda over it and letting it sit for a while can help absorb the grease.
Dry with care
Never put your woollen clothes in the tumble dryer – the combination of heat and tumbling will cause felting and shrinkage. For delicate items and loose knits that stretch easily, it’s best to dry them flat on a towel, which you can drape across the top of your clothes airer or clothesline wires. If you’ve removed most of the water with a gentle spin, garments that are no longer heavy can be dried on a softly moulded hanger. Either way, avoid drying them in direct sun, which can cause the wool to turn yellow. An indoor retractable clothesline is a fantastic way to dry your woollen clothes when it’s raining outside.
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