Wool is one of the most hardwearing fabrics, with a natural stretch and breathability that allows it to dissipate any moisture it might absorb.
However, for all its considerably resilience, wool can still require some occasional care to keep it looking its best. Here are some easy-to-follow maintenance rules to keeping your wool clothing in optimum condition.
HAND WASH, MACHINE WASH OR DRY CLEAN?
It sounds obvious, but reading the care label of your garments will prevent any accidents such as washing for dry-clean only or dry-cleaning for hand wash only.
Unless specifically stated, hand washing, or a gentle machine wash, is by far the preferable cleaning method for wool.
Hand washing is essentially a slow soak for ten minutes followed by a rinse in warm water. To get rid of excess water, roll your garment up in a towel and gently press to absorb. Then, using a fresh towel, lay your garment out flat, preferably in the sunshine. After machine-washing, gently shake and reshape and lay out flat to dry.
Should you find yourself dealing with a potential stain, immediately apply a solvent-based stain remover such as eucalyptus oil. Apply it in small amounts, working inwards on the stain to avoid it from spreading. For specific stain removal, read The Woolmark Company’s detailed guide to potential mishaps and how to treat them.
Whilst most people prefer to care for their wool clothes at home, some items are labelled as Dry Clean Only. These must be taken to a professional dry cleaner to help retain your wool clothing’s as-new look and feel.
While pilling is more common amongst man-made fibres, it can still occasionally occur with wool. Washing your clothes inside out will help prevent pilling from occurring and investing in an electric de-piller will help safely remove them. However, if left alone, it will eventually pull away on its own accord with no trouble.
When not wearing your woollen garments, always fold them to store. Hanging will cause stretching and cause sweaters to lose their shape. If the only option is to hang, then buying hangers specifically designed to hang woollen clothing will help maintain their shape.
TIPS FOR WASHING WOOL
Should a sweater or jacket lose its shape, turn it inside out and place it in a small amount of water with a small amount of detergent for roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Press dry, then lay out flat and arrange back into the original shape.
Always aerate your clothes after wearing – this allows any moisture to evaporate, prevent odours and eliminate the need for excess washing or cleaning.
If a hole occurs, address it immediately otherwise it will only get larger. Use a hooked needle or “knit-picker” to draw yarn from outside of the garment to the inside where it can be sewn in. Or, take it straight to a professional who can do it for you.