Woolen items may well keep you cosy in winter months, but they have a bit of a reputation when it comes to being washed. Put one foot wrong, and you’ll end up shrinking your garment to a fraction of its original size. However, if you’re careful, many woolen or woolen blend garments can be washed in the washing machine. So, follow this short guide, and you’ll have clean woolens without the frustration of shrinkage.
Wash woolen items less frequently
Wool is actually pretty good at keeping itself clean, so woolen items don’t need to be washed as often as other garments. Spot clean stains if necessary, and air your woolens after wearing them to keep them fresher for longer.
Read the label!
As always, reading the care label is laundry’s golden rule. The care label on many woolen items will indicate that they should be hand washed. Well, we can take that with a pinch of salt as you read later – but if a care label states that an item is dry clean only, then keep it out of the washing machine.
Get it sorted
As is good laundry practice for all types of clothing, make sure you separate lights from darks. You should also turn your woolen garments inside out before washing, as this will help keep them looking their best.
Give it a soak
Soaking your woolen garments in cold water before washing them will reduce any shrinkage caused by agitation in the washing machine.
Choose the right detergent and program
While the care label on woolen garments will often state that an item needs to be hand washed, many modern washing machines offer a dedicated woolens program which uses cool water and low spin speeds to mimic a gentle hand wash. If your washing machine doesn’t have a specific woolens program, a delicate cycle at low temperature and spin speeds will achieve the same results.
It’s also a good idea to invest in some detergent designed specifically for wool if you find yourself doing woolen loads regularly. This detergent is gentler on fabrics and will take better care of your woolen items. However, if you only wash woolen items occasionally, you can simply dilute your normal liquid detergent, or dissolve powered detergent in a little water before putting it in the detergent drawer.
If you want to keep your garments extra safe, you can put them in a mesh zip bag to make sure they don’t get caught or snagged inside the machine. If your items have decorative embellishments like sequins, or if the item is particularly dear to your heart, really washing them by hand might be the safest option.
Dry it right
Not all woolen items go in the tumble dryer as the heat will cause the fibres to shrink and distort, and all that effort put into careful washing will be wasted. Also avoid high spin speeds in the washing machine, particularly at the end of cycles. It’s much better to wring woolen items by hand rather than put them through an aggressive spin cycle to remove excess water.
Take a look at the garment’s care label, as these will specify how the garment should be dried – some should be reshaped and dried flat, while others need to be hung. If you’re in the dark about how to read laundry care labels, this article will explain all.
So there it is. As long as you’re careful, most woolen items can be washed in your washing machine, but if you want to be on the safe side, you might want to take the time to wash any special items by hand.