Let's Do a Wool Wash!
The number one question I get is How do I wash my wool blanket? This is a super fair question. Somewhere along the way the message has become confused that washing wool is hard, difficult, troublesome, long or just basically runs the risk of ruining your wool blanket. Nothing could be further from the truth! There is one rule... remember it and you don't even have to read the rest.
COLD WATER ONLY
However since that would make the world's shortest Blog Post I'm going to give you a bit more information and things that I have learned from literally washing HUNDREDS yes actually hundreds of wool blankets.
Let's start from the beginning with a few qualities of wool.
Wool is durable Did you know a wool fibre can bend 20,000 times before breaking - that is a lot! Many of these blankets are 40years young. Don't be scared of washing it, it's not going to keel over because you put it in the washing machine.
Wool is naturally dirt repellant Wool's natural fibre sheen and moisture repelling qualities it also means wool blankets don't get dirty quickly like other textiles and it also means they dry super quick. Put it to the test! Wash your normal clothes and a wool blanket on the same day (not the same wash! LOL) and I guarantee the wool blanket dries first. The idea that you need lots of time for a blanket to dry is a MYTH.
So how often should you wash it then? My rule of thumb in our home blankets is once a season. or if you spill something on it. Light usage in a spare room? Just air it out for a day in some warm sun. Blankets from my teenage son's room? Definitely at the end of the winter season!
How to wash a wool blanket
You've decided to give it a freshen up wash. Firstly give it a bit of a shake and check over the blanket for any marks. If there are any, treat it with your preferred stain removal product and let sit for an hour or two. Avoid rubbing the wool to remove the mark.
Place in your washing machine - yes washing machine - and set to Wool Wash or Cold Water Wash.
Here is where you have a variable:
Wool blankets wash up better with more water.
I know my machine so 9 times out of 10 I can let is set at the auto sensing level and it is fine. If I have a particularly large blanket or something that I feel needs some special attention - maybe a delicate trim, or the wool is finer than normal or extra dense woven blanket. I will manually set the water level higher.
This brings up another variable. I like my Top Loader for blankets. Comparatively Front Loaders use less water which is great for day to day washing. Wool blankets on the other hand really come to life if they have water moving around them. The individual fibres get happy! (ok so I'm not being very scientific but you get the idea). Go ahead and use your Front Loader for a regular sized Single blanket but if you have a large blanket that needs more than an air out maybe see if you can borrow a friend's top loading washing machine for the morning - take scones and have a catch up while it washes. I like scones... hehe
Detergent Easy simple answer is Liquid Wool Wash. You can find some nice environmentally friendly ones just at the supermarket. Use it for your delicates too.
Extra info is - you CAN use your normal washing powder to wash your blanket. It is more about dissolving than anything. Pre-dissolve in a container if you have concerns. Also I tend to always use liquid detergent on darker colours or very densely woven wool such as vintage army blankets and travel rugs.
Avoid powders that contain bleach ingredients such as nappy laundry powders that may effect the colours unless you are washing something like a cream wool dry cot blanket.
45min wash and your done! Hour if you want!
As mentioned wool dries fast. Yay! Best way to dry is over a clothes horse or on something flat and aerated. Even two chairs back to back will work. I prefer this instead of a washing line. Washing lines will either leave a sharp crease straight down the middle or if you peg it up, dent peg marks on the wool. Worse still the weight will stretch the fibres and the weave and pull on the blanket shape. Not great!
Ta da! you're done!
Storing your wool blanket
Blanket boxes and linen cupboards are the usual choice. If you use a vacuum bag just make sure the blanket is nice and dry. Avoid storing on a sun exposed shelf - they may look awesome folded all nice in your open shelf but they WILL fade on the exposed edge. This is worth remembering for blankets that are kept in cars or over the backs of sofas too. I always keep my Travel Car Rug out of direct sunlight.
Pesties - I'll be honest I don't have a lot of experience with moths, I live in a cool house where maybe moths don't like (thank goodness given my blanket cave, they would have a right party). Perhaps someone has tips they would like to share.
Extra Wool Love
Fabric softener - I don't use it but my mum does. Both turn out lovely so personal preference here.
The beautiful blankets you buy here at Fresh Retro Love, I brush them, both sides - firmly but carefully. It is SLOW. But it picks up any naughty bobbles, hairs and brushes the pile up nice. Happy blankets.
I also iron the smoother weaves. Yes call me mad but it makes a difference. Our blankets are often mistaken for new and this is one of the very reasons. Select the Wool temperature on the iron and NEVER iron the label unless it is on very low heat (I have bad dreams about this!).
Mohair - Same as above but choose the gentle spin/wash. Just make sure the temperature doesn't default. Adjust to cold always.
The above instructions are for woven wool blankets specifically. Knitted wool garments or open weave Aircell Blankets require more gentle care.
My main point is not to be intimidated washing your wool blanket. Just remember the number one rule: Cold water only and your blanket will give you many many years of warm winters, fun picnics and cosy couch evenings.
Any questions, comment below and I will do my best to help!
Stay well and warm