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A closeup of a woollen jumper on the floor.

Fabric care secrets: How to wash wool and remove stains

Are you tired of bobbly cardigans? Have you turned a woolly shawl into a hand towel once too often? Not sure what to do with all your shrunken jumpers? Then it’s time to learn how to wash wool the way it likes to be washed. Luckily, it’s not too demanding. Here’s the secret to a perfect wool wash.


Should I hand wash or machine wash wool? 

The answer to this common wool wash question lies in the care label. Look out for the wash care symbol that means ‘hand wash only’. If it’s not there (and the ‘not suitable for washing’ symbol isn’t, either), then you can go ahead and machine wash the wool garment. Just remember to use the ‘wool’, ‘delicates’ or ‘hand wash’ setting on your machine so that your clothes are given a gentle wash at a suitable temperature.

That said, just because you can machine wash wool doesn’t mean you have to. If you don’t have a washing machine, a regular hand wash will do.


How to wash wool

Before you start, take a moment to make sure you’re using an appropriate detergent for woollen clothes. The ingredients that make your regular stain-removing detergent so effective can damage fragile fabrics like wool and silk, so try to find one that’s especially formulated for delicates.

Got everything you need? Let’s get the wool wash started!


How to wash woollen clothes in the washing machine:

  1. If possible, set your machine to the ‘wool wash’ cycle. If not, use the ‘delicates’ or ‘hand wash’ setting, making sure that the temperature is low. Skip the spin cycle altogether if you can – if you can’t, or if you don’t want your woolly garments to come out of the washer soaking wet, set it as low as possible.
  2. Add a gentle detergent that’s designed for delicates. Check the packaging to make sure you’re using the right detergent for woollen clothes.
  3. After the wash is complete, press out any excess water. Gentle wash programmes don’t spin your clothes quite as vigorously as other settings, so your garments are likely to be quite wet when they come out of the machine. You can help them dry faster by rolling each one up in a clean, dry towel, and then gently pressing the excess water out.
  4. Lay out flat to dry. Always dry woollens naturally, as heat can shrink or damage the fibres. Help the garments keep their shape by laying them out flat on a towel to dry. 


How to wash wool by hand: 

  1. Fill a bucket or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle wool detergent. You shouldn’t need to use much – check the packaging for specific dosing instructions. 
  2. Treat any stains. Gently work a little detergent into any soiled or smelly areas as needed. 
  3. Rinse well. Use cold or lukewarm water for this.
  4. Dry naturally. As before, lay each garment out flat on a towel to dry.


So that’s how to wash wool! Just follow these tips, and those shrunken jumpers will be a thing of the past. For more smart tips on fabric care, click here.