:: quick question ::

I really should be in bed, trying to get some zzzz’s before the early start tomorrow! but instead I’m busy dreaming up ideas for possible projects (why oh why does this always happen when I need rest?!). lol. but I’ve got a question that I’m hoping someone can answer for me: how do you clean thrifted wool fabric? I’ve got a pile of old wool scraps and short lengths I bought last year at a rummage sale, and while they’re not obviously dirty, I’m sure a light cleaning wouldn’t hurt. any tips to freshen old wools without felting them (‘cause that’s not what I want!)?


Anna said...
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Anna Allen said...

Someone wrote this once and it explains how to wash wool. Might be helpful:

"First, wool benefits more from a good airing and brushing than any
encounter with soap and water. Of all the fabrics, it releases odor
and dirt more readily. If you are concerned about `cooties' or other
vermin, bundle it in a plastic sack and stick it in the freezer for 3-
5 days.

If however, the wool actually needs cleaning, here's how. These
instructions are for wool yard goods or garments only, not for wool
yarn or fleece—those require different handling.

First, measure the garment and make notes—you'll need these
measurements later.

Run your bathtub full of warm water. Not hot, warm—about the
temperature you'd bath an infant in.. Dissolve an appropriate amount
of Euclean Wool Wash, or Orvus paste in the water, per package
directions----- or other mild soap like Ivory flakes (NOT detergent,
even if does say Ivory on the box—there is a difference).

Lay your wool garment on top of the water. Go Away. Do not punch,
poke, sink, or otherwise harass or annoy the wool garment. When it
gets good and ready, it will gradually absorb enough water to sink

Let it soak at least overnight. If you must, swish you fingers in
the water as idly as you would trail them from a rowboat while
flirting with the man who is rowing.

Let the water out, and allow the garment to drain. Lift it gently by
rolling in a towel, set it aside and refill the tub with warm water
again. If the garment was particularly smelly, pour in a gallon of
white vinegar. Lay the garment back in the tub, and let it soak for
another 24 hours.

Let the water out, and allow the garment to drain. Roll it in a
towel, and press water out. Lay the damp garment on a flat surface
such as a bed or blanket. Using rust proof pins, pin the garment out
to its original measurements. Turn on the ceiling fan and Go Away---
for several days, until the garment is dry

Do not run water directly on the garment. Do not wring, twist, or
agitate. Don't subject the garment to abrupt temperature changes in
the water.

Now, here's why---wool is hair—and it has little scales on it. When
placed in warm water, those scales open up and release whatever is in
them—dye, dirt, smells and such. The wool increases in volume—fluffs
up. Agitating the wool really causes it to fluff up, and soap allows
those scaly fibers to slip back and forth, tangling together—and then
if the water temperature changes abruptly, those fibers then lock
together in a tangled mess—and shrink. And the force of running
water directly on the fabric makes it worse.

This process is called `fulling' or `felting' depending on how much
is done.

So, where does `washable wool' come from? The scales are stripped
from the raw fiber by a chemical bath No scales, no openings to
tangle up and matt down when washed. But the wool also loses its
loftyness and some of its warmth in the process.

All that said—yes I do machine wash wool on occasion. Even then, it
involves a lot of standing over the machine, interrupting the cycle,
and pulling wet steaming wool out of the machine. Like the
automobile commercials "Professional Driver, Closed Track"— machine-
washing wool is not something one does without a lot of experience—
and certainly not with a vintage item."