How To Wash Virgin Wool: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a woolen item that needs to be washed? Washing virgin wool can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.

To wash virgin wool, you need to hand wash it in cool water. Use wool or other gentle detergents, and gently wash the garment without pulling the material or soaking it too long.

How To Wash Virgin Wool: A Step-by-Step Guide
Hat of blue virgin wool hand bound. Credit: canva

Today, we will focus on how to wash virgin wool correctly and safely. It’s not as difficult as you might think!

What is Virgin Wool?

The term “virgin wool” can be used to describe two different types of textiles:

  • The first may refer to newly shorn sheep’s wool that has not been processed or spun into yarn. Basically, any wool that has not been recycled.  In this case, the virgin wool can come from an adult sheep.
  • The second may refer to a baby lamb’s first shearing. This first lot of wool from a lamb is the finest and softest wool taken from a sheep during its life.

How to Wash Virgin Wool

wool overcoat
Photo by Felix Uresti on Unsplash

To keep your virgin wool garments looking their best, it is important to wash them properly.

Washing wool too often or with the wrong products can cause the fibers to break down, leading to shrinkage, felting, and overall deterioration of the fabric.

With a little care and attention, however, you can keep your woolens in tip-top shape for years to come!

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash virgin wool.

Step 1 – Check the Labels on Garment

Virginia wool is a delicate fabric, and as such, it requires special care. You’ll want to ensure that you use the correct detergent and washing method.

Many wool garments are dry clean only, so be sure to check the label before proceeding. 

Step 2 – Cool Water and Gentle Detergent

  1. Fill a sink or basin with cool water and add a small amount of Woolite or another gentle detergent designed for delicates.
  2. Do not use hot water, which can shrink the fibers and damage the fabric. 

Step 3 – Submerge the Garment

soaking cloth
Soaking garment in cool water and gentle detergent. Credit: canva
  1. Submerge your garment in the sink and gently swish it until it is fully saturated.
  2. Let it soak for 3-5 minutes. 

Step 4 – Rinse the Garment

  1. Drain the sink and refill it with cool water.
  2. Rinse your garment thoroughly, making sure all the soap has been removed. 

Step 5 – Gently Squeeze Excess Water

  1. Gently squeeze excess water from the garment and lay it flat on a towel to dry.
  2. Do not wring or twist the garment, as this can damage the fibers.
  3. Allow it to air dry completely before wearing or storing away. 

Tips for Keeping Your Virgin Wool Clean and Tangle-Free

freshly cut virgon wool
Freshly cut virgin wool. Credit: canva
  1. Hang your wool items to dry. This will minimize wrinkles in your clothing and prevent the spread of any potential pests or bacteria.
  2. DO NOT use fabric softener, bleach, or harsh chemicals on virgin wool garments! These ingredients can damage the fibers and cause them to lose their elasticity over time. Instead, use a gentle soap with low irritants safe for both machine and hand-washing.
  3. Dry your wool items on low heat. This will minimize the chances of damaging the fabric and help speed up the drying process.
  4. Store your wool items in a cool, dark place. Exposure to sunlight can damage the fibers and cause them to lose their elasticity over time.
  5. Let your wool garments air-dry entirely before wearing them, if possible. This will help prevent wrinkles and free the fabric from dust and debris.

Washing virgin wool can be a daunting task. However, following these simple tips, you can keep your yarn clean and tangle-free.

Related Topics

Does Wool Shrink in the Dryer?

Yes, it does. Wool is a natural fiber that shrinks when heat exposure, so you should always air-dry wool clothes or dry them on a delicate cycle.

Can I Dry Clean at Home?

Yes, you can dry clean at home, but it’s important to use the correct products and follow the correct instructions.

Many people make the mistake of using too much cleaning solvent or heat, damaging clothes.

What Happens if You Wash a Dry Clean Only?

It’s not recommended to wash dry clean only clothes at home, as it could ruin the fabric or the garment’s delicate stitching.

However, sometimes it’s unavoidable (like when a kid throws up on their dress).

In general, if you must wash dry clean only clothes at home, try to stick to cold water and delicate cycles. And be sure to air-dry them instead of using the dryer.

Does Wool Shrink in Cold Water?

No, wool does not shrink in cold water. Washing wool garments in cold water can help extend their lifespan by preventing the fibers from breaking down.

Does Wool Dry Fast?

Yes, wool is a fast-drying fabric. However, it’s important to air-dry wool garments instead of tumble-drying them on high heat, as this can damage the fibers.

Does Wool Shrink When Wet?

Yes, wool can shrink when wet. In fact, wool is a natural fiber known to shrink when water exposes.

This is because the wool fibers’ scales become enlarged, making the fabric tighter and more prone to shrinking.

What Happens to Wool When It Gets Wet?

When wool gets wet, it loses its ability to insulate and hold water. This is why wet wool feels cold and heavy.

Wool also shrinks when it gets wet, which is why sweaters often feel tighter after they’ve been washed.