First of all: Wash your wool as little as possible. It's good for the environment and it's even better for your clothes. In other words, if you wash less you can keep your clothes longer. To clean your wool clothes you just need to air them out after use. Believe it or not they will be as good as newly washed the next morning. In fact, they'll probably be even better.
The reason you don't need to wash wool as often as other materials is because of its extraordinary fibers. You may have heard people say that wool is "self-cleaning". That is because the fibers have the ability to absorb large amounts of water vapor (double the amount of cotton and triple the amount of polyester), which helps keep sweat, bacteria and odors at bay.
How to wash wool
Washing your wool once in a while is totally understandable and definitely necessary. When laundry day rolls around it can be useful to follow these tips and tricks to take best possible care of your wool:
Use detergent made for wool
Other detergents usually contain enzymes, bleach or have a PH value that can damage wool fibers.
If you don't have wool detergent available the best alternative is to use shampoo. Just like our hair gets stiff, dry, dead and weak when using the wrong soap, the same thing happens to the sheep's hair.
Make sure the water you wash with is between 30-40° C. Quick temperature changes make the wool shrink.
Avoid dryers and drying in the sun
Unless you have a dryer with a specific wool program, you should keep your wool garments far away from this machine. The dryer and the sun give off high heat, and in addition to the movement from the dryer this can shrink the garment.
Be gentle when hand-washing
Wool can expand when wet. Don't stretch or wring out the garment unless you are trying to stretch it out.
To get the water out after washing you can roll the garment in a dry towel. Afterwards it can be smart to lay it flat if the garment is big and heavy so that it doesn't lose it's shape.
Disinfect without water
By freezing or boiling your garment you can remove all bacterias. Wool garments can be put in the freezer overnight, or even better; outside in the snow during the winter. The moisture from the snow can help draw out dirt, in addition to killing bacteria that makes it smell bad.
Another method is boiling the garment for 10 minutes in clean water. Make sure that the garment doesn't move. Don't touch! High temperatures and movement can shrink and tuft the wool.
Use a laundry bag
Use a laundry bag like a Guppyfriend when you wash your wool clothes to keep even better care of them. When using a Guppyfriend with other garments you will also contribute to less microplastics getting out into the ocean.
It is common for wool to shrink a little bit during its first round in the washing machine, and we know how annoying it can be if your garment looses its fit or becomes uncomfortable because of it. Most washing machines that have wool settings are programmed to 800 spins for the centrifugation. We advise changing this to 400.
If the damage is already done, you can carefully stretch the wool back to its original shape when wet, before laying it flat to dry. You can also steam (not iron) the garment and stretch it carefully back to its original form. Use pins to keep the garment in place while you steam. That way you prevent the garment from shrinking again, and it will keep its shape better. It shouldn't be necessary to do this after each wash, only if you've been unlucky and let your clothes stay in the washer a little too long, or washed on the wrong setting.