Jan asked: How do I wash a wool blanket? I bought this large wool blanket and an Army/Navy surplus store. It has no tags to advise how to wash it. We use it in our motor home, and I wanted to know if you thought I could wash it in my large capacity, high efficiency washing machine? Thank you!
Though many wool items are too delicate to machine wash, most wool blankets are actually a blend of wool and another fiber (often acrylic). This allows them to be machine washed successfully on a gentle cycle. Here are a few steps to ensure your wool blanket comes out as good as it went in.
You Will Need:
- Zero Fabric Wash (by Woolite)
- Liquid vegetable glycerin (optional)
- White vinegar (optional)
- Fabric brush
Steps to Clean the Blanket:
- Begin by unfolding the blanket and shaking out any loose debris.
- Place the blanket in the washing machine.
- High efficiency washers use a minimal amount of water, which can cause the blanket to rub against itself more than it would in a standard washer, which can lead to pilling. If you have the option, add extra water to your HE washer.
- Add a small amount of a gentle liquid detergent that is designed for wool items, such as Woolite.
- Set the washing machine to wash and rinse on cold water. Use a gentle or delicate cycle.
- If your wool is scratchy, add either a few drops of liquid vegetable glycerin (available in the baking aisle or at most pharmacies) or 2 cups of white vinegar (for standard washers) to the rinse water.
- After the washing cycle is complete, remove the item and reshape it as necessary.
- Hang the blanket to dry. This can be done several ways:
- Lay it flat on a clean floor or on a few clean towels that are on the floor.
- Hang it outside on a clothesline away from direct sun
- Hang it over the backs of several chairs overnight
- Hang it over a rust-free shower curtain rod
- If the blanket feels stiff after drying, brush it with a fabric brush to rub up the nap. A dry towel can be used instead of a fabric brush.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Avoid any wash cycles that use hot water or strong agitation/spin cycles. These can all cause damage and shrinkage to the wool fibers.
- If the Zero detergent cannot be found, another gentle/mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics will work. Baby detergents are a good choice.
- While all wool blankets have different fiber compositions, those found at military surplus stores are strong blankets. They can usually tolerate the machine washing with no problems.
- Avoid machine drying wool items unless the care instructions specifically say that it is allowable.
- You do not need to use fabric softener on wool as it is softened with heat and moisture.
- When wet, wool fibers are swollen and weak. Do not wring or twist the wet wool as you can damage it. If you find that your blanket has retained too much water after a wash, put it through a second spin cycle.
- Do not wash more than one wool blanket at a time as they will abrade against each other and begin to pill.
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