Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How To Wash Wool

how to care for wool

how to wash wool

Wool is great at keeping you 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 has 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.  These will help to keep your garments looking fresh and as good as new, no matter how old they are.  They’ll also lengthen their lifespan, for extra sustainability points.

Let’s talk laundry!

Does your wool 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.  This is great because washing less helps prolong your garment’s lifespan.  

If your woollen clothes have been lightly worn, and they aren’t stained or sweaty, then they probably don’t need washing.  Instead, just hang your clothes outside for a couple of hours on a dry day.  This will 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.  This method 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 their 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.  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.  I’ll then wash 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 a 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 it 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: I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful.  Firstly, how to make your own fabric conditioner. Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – how often should you wash your clothes.  I also have guides on how to dry clean at home, and how to wash striped clothing.  And lastly, my guide to natural stain removal.  I’m all about the laundry! 

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

12 Natural Stain Remover Tips For All Of Your Laundry Woes

how often should I wash my laundry

Looking for natural stain remover tips? Try out these 12 tips, for all your laundry woes – from lipstick stains to biro, red wine, to cooking fat – I have a solution for you.

Today I wanted to share my natural stain remover tips.  But first, I’ve got a confession to make. For the longest time, I couldn’t not have a bottle of stain remover in my kitchen cupboard.  You know the one that comes in the pink bottle.  It was a habit I could not kick – two kids will do that to you!

When my last bottle ran out I vowed to look into natural stain remover methods, and lo and behold, a lot of them work just as well, if not better than their chemical-ridden counterparts.

I use a good quality eco-friendly laundry detergent (see my guide to the best eco-friendly cleaning products) but sometimes you just need a little something extra to shift extra stubborn stains.

Here are my natural stain remover tips for a cleaner greener wash.  As with any stain remover, before trying out the natural stain remover tips I’d recommend spot testing in an inconspicuous area just in case.

Natural Stain Remover Tips

A range of natural cleaning ingredients with blue text box that says natural stain remover tips to remove any stain


Milk is a surprising natural stain remover, that’s great at removing biro.  Simply soak your stained item of clothing in a little milk for around 3 hours, then wash as normal.


You can either pre-soak your item of clothing in heavily salted cold water or soak it in a mixture of 1 litre hot water and a quarter cup of soda crystals, then wash as normal.  Soda crystals*, in particular, are a great natural stain remover. However, either option, depending on what you have to hand, should remove the most stubborn bloodstain.

Natural Stain Removal Tips for Candle Wax

Got some candle wax on your best table cloth?  Try placing brown paper on top of the wax stain and iron the paper with a warm iron.  This should draw the melted wax out of the fabric.

Chewing Gum

Put the offending item of clothing in your freezer for a few hours.  The gum should then be quite hard and brittle, allowing you to scrape the gum off easily with a knife.

Cooking Fat

Create a paste of bicarbonate of soda or soda crystals and equal parts of water to spread over the stain.  Then leave the paste on for 30 minutes and then wash in your usual laundry detergent. Similar to soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda also makes for a great natural stain remover and deodoriser, and is a really handy one to keep in your green cleaning arsenal.


Similar to chewing gum, freeze the item of clothing for a few hours to harden the crayon.  Once frozen you can then scrape off the excess with a knife.  You can then place the stained area of clothing between two clean paper towels, and press with a warm iron.  This should transfer the wax onto the paper towels.  Depending on how bad the stain is you may need to do this a few times.  Then wash with your regular detergent and a large spoon of soda crystals in the drum to help shift the residue.

Faded Whites

cleaning products and lemon juice

Although not strictly a stain, half a cup of lemon juice in with your usual detergent should help keep whites bright.

Natural Stain Remover Tips for Lipstick

Remove the crusts from a slice of white bread and roll the bread into a ball (trust me on this!).  Then use the ball of bread to blot the lipstick stain, which should lift the lipstick from the clothes, and then wash as normal.  Apparently, white play-doh also works for removing lipstick stains but I haven’t tested that particular method!


Pre-soak muddy clothes in a bucket of warm water with a quarter cup of bicarbonate of soda or soda crystals for three hours.  Then wash your item of clothing as normal.  Don’t be tempted to leave muddy clothes sitting – it works best if you soak straight away.

Perspiration Marks

Yellow perspiration marks and stains can easily be removed naturally by soaking your clothes for a few hours in white vinegar, another great natural stain remover. Leave them to soak for an hour or two, before rinsing in water, and then washing as normal.

Red Wine

Make a paste using bicarbonate of soda and equal parts water and apply to the stain.  Leave for a few hours, then rinse under the tap and then wash.  Sparkling or soda water will also help to naturally remove a red wine stain if the bicarbonate of soda doesn’t cut the mustard.

Natural Stain Removal Tips for Tea & Coffee Marks

Mix one cup of soda crystals into a pint of hot water, and pre-soak your clothes for an hour before washing as normal to effortlessly remove tea and coffee stains.

Any natural stain remover tips I’ve missed?  Do share your favourites in the comments below!

ps: I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful.  Firstly, how to make your own fabric conditioner. Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – how often should you wash your clothes.  I also have guides on how to dry clean at home, and how to wash striped clothing.  And lastly, my guide to how to wash wool.  I’m all about the laundry!