3 tips for washing wool

It’s my favourite time of year — I’m no longer the only person wearing and washing woolen items. Today I’ll discuss 3 tips for caring for items that are made with wool. While this post is written mostly geared to knit socks, it does apply to other woolen items. A future post will discuss both short and longer term storage (can’t wait? I’m a fan of cedar and/or lavender).

Tip one – skip washing for a week (or more)

For years I washed my socks every week because that’s how I had always washed the cotton/acrylic socks I wore. The social media campaign about wearing a wool dress for 100 days is what actually made me stop to reflect about how often I actually needed to wash my wool socks.

Now I’ll wear a pair, hang them to air out for a night or two, then give a sniff test. They tend to go straight back into my sock drawer. I will wear them several times before I feel they need a bath. I’ve noticed that the amount of nylon, the number of plies, and how I knit the fabric all influence how often they need washing. I haven’t made a formal study with recorded data, but I hope to knit a pair of socks from a multi-ply and high-twist wool/silk combo soon.

Tip two – cool water and no rinse wool wash

Can you wash socks in a machine? Yes, I did for years. It’s also why I have sock toys for cats and mug cozies. Sometimes I didn’t check the settings and the entire load ended up on warm (and therefore felted).

I’m a big fan of wool wash. You can purchase it pre-made as I’ve done for years. I’m about to make my own batch because I’m almost out and I’m not too keen on paying to have what’s primarily water shipped. I plan to follow this popular recipe with modifications based on other’s experiences and honestly what I have around the house. I’ve started to gather everything.

various cleaning bottles sitting on top of a white surface.

In the image above, to the left are the two bottles of no rinse wool wash I bought years ago. They work & I like them, but they aren’t easy for me to buy more of. On the right is a bar of hand-made soap I was given years ago, some liquid castile soap, essential oil, and some isopropyl alcohol. So far that’s as far as I’ve gotten in the gathering of supplies!

Tip three – roll, stomp, let dry 

I don’t have a wringer for handwashing (yet, I have an idea on how I’ll make one). For now, I roll items in a clean towel and gently step on it, rotating the roll. This helps to draw out the extra water and helps the items to dry faster. If the weather is nice, I let them dry outside in the sun.


I hope this post helps you care for your wool items.

Need to read more?

a plastic bowl with sudsy water and some knitting. a post it with "gauge" handwritten, a pen, and a small ruler is in front of the bowl

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