THE ABC’S OF WOOL CARE
Did you dig out your favorite wool scarf for a stroll on a cold day? Or did you just get your hands on that luxuriously soft Lexington knit you’ve been eyeing since the beginning of the season? Whatever the reason, you’ll need to care for them wisely if you want to wear them next year. Or the year after. Or the year after that.
Caring for wool is as easy as reciting the ABCs. In fact, it’s easier since you won’t even get to Z. Here’s how you can prolong your favorite wool pieces’ new look and feel.
How to keep your wool clean
Hate washing clothes? Well, then wool should be your new favorite material. Wool has anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties, so you can go longer between washes. But keep these in mind should the time come to wash your woolens.
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A- Attend to stains immediately
Use a recommended solution to treat any stains as soon as possible and let it air dry. By treating the stain you’ll go longer between washes which saves energy, water and material. It’s also a good idea to pre-treat stains before washing your wool.
B- Brush the dirt off between wears
After each wear, brush your wool product lengthwise to remove dirt, hair, food and makeup that may become stains later. This will keep your favorite item from looking dull as this simple practice also helps to release natural oils that rejuvenate yarns. This helps you go longer between washes.
C- Cool your water for wool
Always use cold water when washing wool when you handwash or machine wash. Well, that’s unless you want to donate your sweater to a small child or his/her doll toys.
D- Divide and conquer
When washing in a washing machine, separate your wool garments from clothing that have fastenings like zippers, hook and loop or hook and eye. There’s always a chance that these will latch on to yarn and pull it damaging your wool garment. It's best if you also separate your dark wool garments from your light ones.
E- Eradicate tough stains and odors in the washing machine
Before throwing your wool garment in the washing machine make sure it can be washed in a washing machine. If the care label advises machine washing, always wash the garment in delicate or wool cycle. Make sure the garment is turned inside out, the water temperature is cold and the spin is on low. When the cycle is done, immediately remove the garment from the washing machine to reduce wrinkles.
F- Freshen up in the bathroom
When taking a steamy shower, hang your wool on a padded hanger in the bathroom. The steam will release wrinkles and get rid of odors.
G- Get the right detergent
Anyone who says you can wash your wool with a regular detergent isn’t your friend. These detergents break down the molecules in your wool. So, your long-lasting garment won’t last. Wool detergents, however, are mild making them gentle on the garment and on your hands should you decide to handwash your wool. Avoid fabric softeners.
H- Handwash for safety
Handwashing is always the best and safest method for washing wool and cashmere. To wash your wool garment, fill a sink or a tub with cool water. Add the right detergent and submerge the garment. Gently stir the water to distribute the soap and let the garment soak for up to 30 minutes. Rinse the item under running cool water until you get all the soap off. Do not wring. Instead, press the water out of the item.
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I- Idle between wear
Give your wool garment a 24-hour break before wearing it again. We know you love that cozy poncho and want to live in it, but the break allows the fibers to recover their natural resilience and spring so that the poncho can retain its original shape.
J- Juice up the garment
Some may feel that not using a fabric softener makes their woolens a little stiff. If that’s you, add some vinegar to your laundry. It doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, but its mildly acidic. This property allows the vinegar to dissolve acid-based stains and residue from the detergent. The latter is what makes vinegar an effective and cheap fabric softener. Oh, and don’t worry about smelling like a salad because the smell disappears when dry.
K- Keep away from dry cleaners
Dry-cleaning detergents use harsh chemicals that degrade yarns in your warm blanket or scarf.
L- Lay it flat
Flat dry your woolens in its natural shape on a drying rack or clean towel. To expedite the drying, roll your woolens in the towel (like a burrito) to remove excess water. Do not put wet woolens in the dryer nor should you hang them!
M- Minimize contact with heat
When drying, avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, such as an iron or a radiator, because they can yellow, shrink, or damage woolens. Dry wool in room temperature. Keep away from heat even after your garment has dried. Don’t iron your woolens as it will crush or flatten the natural pile of the yarns. If you do iron smooth wool garments, always use steam when pressing. Set your iron on the wool setting, place a damp cloth on the area you will press.
There’s nothing as ugly as those tiny, ugly balls you see on wool garments. They make your woolens look dull and worn. That doesn’t mean it’s time to throw them out. A few simple tools can bring back life to those wool items.
N- Note the different de-pilling tools
Pilling is a result of friction which occurs with movement. The loose wool fibers form tiny balls or pills when this happens. The more you wear a garment the more likely it is to pill. However, there are different tools for de-pilling your garments. Glide a sweater comb across pilled areas on finer-guage knits such as a lightweight wool sweater, t-shirts or pants. Use a sweater stone on heavier-guage garments such as thick sweaters or outerwear.
O- Operate tools the right way
Whichever tool you decide to use, always work de-pilling tools in one direction.
Digging out old wool sweaters, suits and other garments you used 5 years ago is an exciting way to renew your current wardrobe. But it’s a real bummer to find out the sweater grandma knitted lost its shape and that bugs feasted on the wool suit you wore at your first job. Avoid all of that heartache with these simple tricks.
P- Prevent stretching, distorting and bug infestations
Store your knits properly to prolong their lifespan. Knits should always be folded when stored, while outerwear and suits should be hung using a solid, structured and padded hanger. They should always be clean when stored to avoid attracting bugs. Remember that food stains and body oils attract moths.
Q- Quit plastic storage bags
Avoid plastic bags if you’re storing your woolens away for the season. The plastic storage bags encourage yellowing and trap mildew-causing moisture which is a prime environment for bugs and moths. Choose a breathable cotton bag with a zip closure instead.
Wet wool can be scary. The shrinkage and the stretching are terrifying. But they don’t have to be if you know what to do.
Now that you know your ABCs, you won’t have a problem telling your friends that your new-looking sweater they’re asking about has weathered a few seasons or even generations.