There’s nothing cosier on a wet, chilly winter’s day than snuggling into your favourite woolly jumper. But when it comes time to launder it, you can’t just toss it in the wash with the rest of your clothes. Even a machine-washable wool garment needs a little bit of TLC to keep it looking its best. Here are our top tips for laundering your woollens.
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 garment, give it a gentle swish and then leave it to soak for 10-30 minutes. Rinse in cool water and squeeze dry – never wring it out! If your garment is machine-washable, place it 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 wool, as soon as you introduce motion into the equation, then the risk of shrinking your clothing increases dramatically. So to be on the safe side, wash in cold or tepid water.
Dry with care
Never put your woollens in the tumble dryer – the combination of heat and tumbling will cause felting and shrinkage. For very delicate items and loose knits that stretch easily, it’s best to dry them flat on a towel, which you can lay 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 direct sun as this can cause the wool to yellow.
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