Q:

How do you clean raw wool?

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Quick Answer

Fiberist Holly Shaltz suggests washing raw fleece in modern washing machines with hot water and liquid dishwashing soap to remove grease from the wool fibers. Before wool is washed, it must be skirted to remove damaged, overly dirty and contaminated fibers. Shaltz recommends washing raw wool in top-loading washing machines to stop the wool from clumping into balls of felt.

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Full Answer

After skirting the fleece, the wool is placed into a medium or large mesh bag to prevent the wool from spreading around the wash container. Make sure the mesh bags fit within the wash basin of the washing machine, tub, bucket or sink. Use a minimum of 140 F water for coarse wool and 160 F water for fine wool. Lower temperatures may allow some grease to be left behind. Soak the wool for 15 to 30 minutes per soak until the fibers are clean and white.

Handwashing wool takes at least two or three soakings to get manure, dirt, vegetable matter and other contaminants out of the wool. New England Simple Living explains that hot water soaks with mild dish detergent should be used to remove manure. Two or three soakings in warm and lukewarm water are needed to remove regular dirt. New water should be used during each soaking. Excessive agitation in hot water can damage wool fibers, according to Pegg Thomas of Twin Willows Farm.

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