How to Clean and Store Your Wool Garments

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Summer is almost here, just a couple of weeks away.

It’s time to put away your heavy wool garments, blankets and other wool items.

You need to make sure everything is clean so that insects are not attracted to the wool.

Moths love wool. I have a very old wool blanket that has several holes in it that were made by moths while it was stored.

So clean your wool garments, and anything else made from wool, before you store them for the summer.  For those of you who are wondering how to clean wool to prevent it from shrinking please read on!

How to wash your wool:

Garments and other goods made from wool of any source should be cared for properly, if you are to protect them from harm.

Most woollen goods require little washing. Some wool lines are produced in such a way to keep the lanolin which makes the fibre water resistant and/or dirt resistant.

But before putting your precious sweaters, mittens, scarves, blankets and other items made from wool away for the summer; follow these steps to clean each one.

Minor spots on wool can be cleaned off with a damp cloth if treated right away.

For more serious spots, one should wash woollen items carefully.

To Clean Wool Garments

  • Soak the spot or the whole garment in cold water and Wrapture , a lanolin enriched concentrate with jasmine oil, one of the other products by Eucalan; or a mild shampoo.
  • Never rub or scrub unless you want felt.
  • Hand wash in a basin or sink. Large items can be soaked in a tub or tote.
  • Before removing each item from the water, check that it is clean.
  • When your item is clean, drain out the water. If you use Wrapture, rinsing is not necessary. Otherwise, rinse gently in cold water.
  • Drain.
  • Gently squeeze out the water.
  • Using thick cotton towels, lay out the item flat. Roll up the item in the towels. Squeeze again.
  • Leave for several hours so the towels will absorb most of the water.
  • Next you block the item. For this process, I like to use foam blocks designed for children.
  • Lay out the item on the foam and use non-rusting steel pins to shape the item.
  • In the picture below, you can see how I blocked Dragon Wing scarves.IMG_2288
  • Leave until thoroughly dry.
  • Remove pins and fold.

What can happen if you do not clean your wool properly?

Several years ago I bought a beautiful 100% wool Aran sweater for my oldest daughter in The Sweater Shop, in Dublin.

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The label said machine washable. She washed it in her washer and she dried it in her dryer.

She called me because her sweater was too small.

What a learning experience for both of us.  Not only was it shrunk: it was also felted. This experience certainly reminded me that I need to provide cleaning instructions with my knitting.

To Store Wool Garments

  • Never, never, ever store your woollen garments on hangers.
  • Fold your garments, blankets or anything else make from wool and store them flat… On a shelf, in a drawer or box. Etc.
  • For long term storage add cedar shavings in an old sock when you store your wool goods in a drawer, or on a shelf in your closet.
  • A cedar lined chest is the best tool to store wool. The cedar sent keeps moths away thereby preventing the moths from eating holes in your prized wool.
  • Avoid moth balls. My mother would use moth balls. Moths balls are a toxic, horrible smelling product.

If looked after properly, wool products will last for many years.

I still have a sweater that my mom knit for me about twenty-five years ago. It was knit using a purple heather manufactured by the long ago closed Codroy Mill, Codroy Valley, Newfoundland.

Your woolen items are valuable and deserve to be protected. They will last for years.

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