I'm pretty familiar with washing handmade vintage items made of wool. If you're not familiar with the care that wool items require you can be left wondering why your woolen or knitted items don't last, are destroyed, shrink or are felted.
For those unfamiliar with genuine wool items it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that machine washing woolen items like everyday pieces would be okay.
What you should know about laundry vintage woolen items!
First up, be prepared to get your hands wet, you're going to be hand washing.
There are many products I have on hand for cleaning and restoring vintage items, but when it comes to vintage woolen items the main two products I have on hand are:
- Earth Choice Woolen & Delicates Eucalyptus Wash
- Goanna Eucalyptus Oil
Using the laundry tun or plastic container, fill with enough warm (not hot) water to cover the garment/item you're going to wash. In the warm water dilute 20-30ml of wool wash liquid.
Place the woolen item/garment into the water carefully. Basically you want to let it soak, be careful not to agitate the garment in the water too much, as it will ware away at the fibers and can also cause felting. You can step away and let it have a good ole soak for a few hours and overnight if necessary.
After a good soak, drain the water out of the tub/container. Lift the garment in a bundle so the woolen fibers aren't stretched and place the item into a colander or strainer of some description. Then run warm water through the garment in the colander. You can press down gently on the garment to help this process to remove the detergent/wash and repeat if necessary.
Again let garment drip and drain in a colander, once again you can press down lightly to help expel the excess water. Once it has had a good drip dry, lift the garment in a bundle on to a clean dry towel that you have laid out (I double my towels up for more absorbency).
Spread your garment out gently on the towel and proceed to roll your garment up in the towel as seen in the example above. Apply gently but even pressure whilst rolling to help the initial drying process and explosion of excess fluid .
Repeat process if necessary.
With another clean towel lay the laundered garment/item flat in the sun to dry.
Stubborn stains often improve with a good sunning. If you've followed the above process and allowed your garment or item a good sunning to assist with stain removal you can try some straight Eucalyptus Oil on stubborn spots by dabbing gently.
Final Care Notes after Laundering
When storing your woolen items, never put them on a hanger. Remember to always fold them and have them on a shelf or in a drawer, this will give your garment longevity by not stretching the fibers your item from the weight of the garment or piece.
ETA: full disclosure the above products are just products I use and love there has been no payment or product received for this post.