by Cassandra Merkling
(last updated October 29, 2012)
Wool fabric is fairly straightforward in its maintenance. It generally only needs to be cleaned once or twice a year, and a lot of dust and dirt can be removed by simply brushing the fabric (if it is heavily napped) lengthwise or rubbing downward gently with a damp cloth. Never hang damp wool garments in the sun to dry, as they may shrink and possibly even fade in color.
If the garment says to "Dry Clean Only," you should take heed of the advice. Take care when hand-washing a "Dry Clean Only" garment, since it may not have been treated so that it can be washed without difficulties. If the garment has a tag sewn into it that says "Superwash", then you will be able to wash it in a washing machine as well as the dryer. Even so, you will want to wash the clothing one garment at a time. Set your machine to the gentle cycle, and keep the time your fabric will be in the washer brief. Be sure that the water temperature is set to cool or lukewarm, and make sure the laundry detergent has dissolved in the water if it is the kind that comes as a powder.
Blot, do not rub, any stains on wool fabric. Rubbing can get the stain worked in deeper, whereas blotting can absorb it up into the cloth you're blotting with, preventing it from soaking in any more than it already has. If there is anything you cannot get out yourself, then take it to a dry cleaner as soon as possible.
When hand washing your wool, you will need to keep the water warm. Hot water will set stains in wool fabric and shrinks the fabric, so never use hot water. Never use bleach on wool, since it eats through the fabric. Soak the wool for a few minutes in a solution of mild detergent and warm water, gently squeezing the fabric so you can get the solution into it. Never wring or agitate the wool, as doing so can disfigure and shrink the fabric. Rinse in cool water, again squeezing to get the rinse water into the fabric and the soap out. Then gently squeeze once more so you can get the excess liquid out. Reshape and lay your wool fabric flat to dry, since hanging will cause the fabric to stretch. Remember do not allow the fabric to dry in the sun or near heat.
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