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Natural Cleaning

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How To Wash Wool

how to care for wool

how to wash wool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wool is great at keeping your warm, but it can be tricky to wash.  I’ve put together a guide today on how to wash wool, to help keep you right!

Come this time of year I’m rarely out of a woollen jumper or cardigan, or without a woollen hat or scarf.  There’s nothing quite like a soft woollen to keep you warm.  Finisterre kindly sent me the alpaca wool jumper above, and I have to say it’s now one of my very favourites.  Whether I’m out on a walk or curled up in front of the fire, it’s seeing me right and keeping the chills at bay.  Finisterre have strong ethical values too, so it’s an all round feel good wear.

What I love most about wool is that if you look after it, it can last a lifetime.  I’ve got some handy tips today on how to look after your woollen clothing, and how to wash wool, to keep your garments looking fresh and as good as new, no matter how old they are, and to lengthen their lifespan.

Let’s talk laundry!

Does your wool need washing?

If your woollen clothes have been lightly worn, and they aren’t stained or sweaty then they probably don’t need washing.  Wool is naturally breathable, allowing it to dissipate any moisture it might absorb.  That means you can get away with washing it less than you would other types of material, and washing less helps prolong your garment’s lifespan.  Instead, just hang your clothes outside for a couple of hours on a dry day to refresh your clothes without having to wash them.

How to hand wash wool

If your clothes are dirty then hand washing is my preferred option for washing wool, as it gives you a bit more control, rather than being at the whim of your washing machine.  Hand washing wool is pretty straightforward, and the good thing is for the most part you just let the water and the soap do its thing.

Fill your sink with lukewarm water (30ºC or less) and add some gentle laundry detergent specially made for washing wool and other delicates.  I use the Ecover stuff because it’s the easiest to get hold of, pretty inexpensive and does a good job at looking after my woollens.  Mix it in well before adding your clothes to the water.

Don’t be tempted to use conventional laundry detergents as they tend to be on the more alkaline side.  Alkalinity isn’t good for both the wool itself, or the dyes used on wool, so these detergents can make your wool prone to breakage and fade its colour.

If I’m washing a few garments I’ll wash the light colours first, and the dark colours second, so as to avoid dye transfer.

Pop your clothes into the soapy water, submerging to ensure the whole garment is wet.  Then allow the clothes to soak for at least 10 minutes.  This allows the water and soap to penetrate the fibres, ensuring a nice thorough clean.  I like to use this 10 minutes or so to have a nice cup of tea.  Got to make the chores bearable!

After 10 minutes, give your garment a gentle swirl and give any areas that need particular attention a gentle rub with your hands.  Avoid rubbing the fabric together, like you might do when you hand wash other fabrics.  Then remove your garment from the soapy water, and rinse twice with clean water to ensure all the soapy suds are out.

Now, this is the bit where you need to take the most care.  The last thing you want to do is wring your garment out. Doing so will cause stretching and loss of shape.  Instead, press the water out of your garment gently, and then lay your garment on a clean dry towel.  Then roll your garment up, like you would roll a swiss roll, in order to squeeze out the excess water.

Next unfurl your garment, reshape your garment if need be, and let your garment dry flat.

how to care for wool

How to machine wash wool

I tend to use my washing machine for washing wool if I’ve got quite few woollens that need laundering in one go.

If you’re using your washing machine, again wash darks and lights separately.  Add the laundry detergent to the dispensing drawer rather than to the drum, and run the wool programme, if your machine has one.  If not, run a 30ºC or less cycle, with the lowest spin cycle your machine has.

Once removed from the machine, as before, reshape your garment whilst damp and dry flat.

How to dry wool

For both methods I’ve emphasised the need to dry your woollens flat.  Hanging wet woollens vertically, either on a washing line, clothes horse or radiator can stretch the wool fibres, making your clothes lose their shape and fit.  I’d therefore always dry your woollens flat on a drying rack, away from direct heat.  And avoid the tumble drier at all costs.  This is sage advice at the best of times, but all the more pertinent when dealing with wool.

How to remove stains from wool

I’ve found that eucalyptus oil makes for a good natural stain remover.  I use a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil and leave for 10 minutes before washing, and then wash as normal.  As always, do test the oil out on an inconspicuous area before using for the first time on any fabric or garment.

How to store wool

I fold my woollens and keep them in my drawer, rather than hanging them up in the wardrobe (Martha Stewart agrees with me!).  This helps them retain their shape, but also protects them from any errant hangers that might snag the wool.

When it comes to storing your woollens away for the summer, it’s always best to give your woollens a wash before packing away, because moths and other wool loving insects are especially attracted to dirt.  I like to store my woollens in an airtight vacuum bag, with a sachet of lavender added for good measure.  As well as repelling the wool munching critters, this method has the added advantage is that your clothes take up very little storage space (a boon for small space dwellers like myself.  Try eBay or Wilkinsons to pick up the bags cheaply.

Other tips

I tend to give jewellery a miss when wearing wool, especially when I’m wearing a looser knit, to avoid the risk of snagging.

And there you go, with this advice on how to wash wool, and how to look after your woollen clothes, hopefully you can prolong the length of your woollens.

ps: here are some natural stain remover tips to help get stains out of your best wool jumpers!

Natural Cleaning

Eco Friendly Cleaning Supplies

eco friendly cleaning supplies

eco friendly cleaning supplies

This post contains affiliate links

Long term readers of Moral Fibres will know that I’m big on eco-friendly cleaning.  It’s lighter on the planet, good for your health, and it’s a whole lot of fun whipping up your own cleaning products in your kitchen.  I promise you’ll feel a bit like an alchemist mixing up various (often food safe) ingredients, and coming up with potions and powders that will leave your home sparkling clean and smelling beautiful.

I’ve been asked a few times lately about my eco-friendly cleaning supplies and where I source my materials.  As it’s come up a few times I thought it would be useful to put all of this information into a blog post.  So lo and behold, a comprehensive list of the eco-friendly cleaning supplies I use and where to source them.

My eco-friendly cleaning supplies:

green cleaning supplies

Amber Glass Bottles (500ml or 1000ml size)

The reason I specifically use amber glass bottles is that the cleaning products I make typically contain essential oils.  Amber coloured bottles protect the essential oils from ultraviolet light, which can damage the oils.  Meanwhile, the glass is used because certain oils, such as citrus oils, may dissolve plastic over time.  This could be a problem if you’re reusing plastic bottles time and time again.  I found my amber glass bottles at Baldwins, and their service is second to none.  Don’t feel you have to splash out on bottles though.  For a zero-waste solution the glass bottles that white vinegar comes in will suffice: just store them in a dark cupboard when not in use.

Trigger Spray Nozzles

The glass bottles from Baldwins all come with screw tops.  I add a few trigger spray nozzles to my order.   Alternatively reuse trigger sprays from any used up cleaning products.  I’ve bought the nozzles as some as my bottles are 1000 ml sized, for cleaning products I like to make in bigger sizes.

Pump Tops

I’m having a go at making my own hand wash, so have two pump tops, again from Baldwins, for easy and measured dispensing.  I’ll share my recipe once I’ve hit the homemade hand wash jackpot.

White Vinegar

I buy my white vinegar in bulk from eBay, getting four 5 litre jerrycans of the stuff at a time.  Twenty litres works out at a little over £15 (with free postage) and it’s the most economical way of buying vinegar.  At about £1.33 a litre, it’s way cheaper than buying the glass bottles of white vinegar at the supermarket (£1 for 568ml) or the plastic 750ml bottles from the pound shop.  I use vinegar all around the house, and even the garden, so it’s a handy bulk supply to have in stock.

Vodka

I buy a big bottle of vodka specifically for cleaning with.  Nothing fancy, just the cheapest, nastiest stuff I can find on the bottom shelf of the supermarket.  Minimum alcohol pricing laws in Scotland means the cheapest I can find vodka for is £10 for 750ml.  Vodka is scent-free and oddly great for deodorising (I promise your house won’t smell like a pub).  It’s also great at cutting through soap scum and has some disinfectant properties.  And the handy thing is that once you’ve finished cleaning you can pour yourself a celebratory vodka and tonic…!

Bicarbonate of Soda, Soda Crystals, Salt, & Borax

I keep a couple of boxes to hand of each ingredient.  Each is handy in its own right – see here for soda crystals uses and here for borax uses, and often can be combined with other ingredients to make powerful homemade cleaning products.  Large boxes of borax, soda crystals, and bicarbonate of soda can be found cheaply in the cleaning aisle of bigger supermarkets, at Wilkinsons, or in pound shops.  Alternatively, try eBay if you want to buy in bulk at low cost.

Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap

I’m a fan of Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap.  I’ve been buying the orange scented soap in the larger size and been using it as part of the handwash recipe I’m working on.  I also use it for other uses around the home, such as cleaning my solid floors.

Essential Oils

I use a variety of essential oils.  The most common ones I use are lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit, as I’m a particular fan of citrus scents.  I’m also partial to lavender and tea tree oil because of their disinfectant and antibacterial properties.  I tend to buy my essential oils from Buff & Butter on eBay as they are priced competitively, offer free delivery, and have the added advantage of being organic.

e-cloths

I love my e-cloths – I wrote a whole ode to e-cloths here.  These cloths remove dirt, grease, and 99% of all bacteria, including salmonella, E.coli, and listeria, with just water.  When dirty, just pop them in the washing machine.  I’m particularly a fan of using e-cloths to clean my windows and shower screen, and for cleaning my stainless steel hob and appliances.  Streak-free cleaning at it’s finest.

There is a bit of controversy regarding microfibre cloths shedding microplastic into the ocean.  However, if you wear any kind of synthetic clothing then it’s also responsible for this microplastic release.  I would personally argue that the environmental impact of not using harsh chemicals that ultimately end up in our waterways is better than the small amount of microplastic coming from microfibre cloths.   That’s your personal choice to make though.

Other Items

Cotton cloths, scrubbing brushes, and citrus fruit are always handy eco-friendly cleaning supplies to have to hand, as is a little bit of elbow grease!

Looking for inspiration?  Try my post on my green cleaning favourites for some recipes to try out with these eco-friendly cleaning supplies!

eco friendly cleaning uk