How to care for your wool clothes this winter
Wool has been one of the most popular clothing materials for thousands of years due to its breathable yet absorbent qualities, as well as its comfort, warmth and style. If cared for correctly, wool can last for a very a long time, but many make the mistake of treating it like any other clothing material.
Whether it’s washing and drying your wool clothing at home in a way that makes them last or entrusting your delicates to a professional like BLANC, we're here to explain how to keep your wool garments in good condition for many years to come.
Wash wool sparingly
One of the benefits of wool clothing that many people don't seem to realise is that it doesn't need to be washed anywhere near as often as other garments — that’s good news for the environment! Due to the natural anti-microbial properties of wool, even your socks can be used a few times before you need to wash them — the key is to air them out between uses.
Wool also has a natural protective layer that acts as a barrier to help prevent stains from being absorbed. You only need to wash your wool if you can see that it is physically dirty or if it is emitting any distinctive odours, but even then you should try a stain removing agent first.
Wash wool by hand
Though entirely possible to machine-wash some wool, many people prefer to do it by hand or take it to a professional as extra protection for the fabric. Some manufacturers, such as Joseph Turner, will recommend that their wool products are only washed by hand. We spoke to their menswear buyer, Katie Illingworth, who explained the best way to hand wash wool garments.
"To wash wool by hand, fill your sink or bathtub with lukewarm water and add a small amount of specially designed wool laundry detergent. Add your clothing and gently swish it around, being careful not to stretch the material, and allow it to soak for 10 minutes.
"Remove as much excess water as you can without wringing out the wool and allow it to rinse in clean water. Gently swish the garment again and repeat the rinsing process until all the detergent has been removed."
If you choose to get a professional to do it for you, you'll want to find one that offers "wet" cleaning services, like we do here at BLANC, as opposed to a "dry" cleaner, who will use stain-removing chemicals that also dissolve your wool's natural protective layer.
Wash wool in the machine
Some brands do make wool garments that can be washed in the machine, but even for these items, the fewer spin cycles you put your wool clothing through, the longer it will last. The key is to use the right detergent and use only slow, cold cycles. Soaking your wool clothing in cold water before putting it in the machine can also reduce the amount of shrinkage. If your garment is very stained or needs some extra TLC, you might be better of speaking to a professional wet cleaner like us, as our machines are specially designed to get the best out of wool.
As an extra layer of protection, we often use a mesh laundry bag — which you can also use at home. If your washer has a hand wash or wool cycle, use that, but if not, go for the slowest, coldest cycle possible. Always check the label before machine-washing anything. If the label says hand-wash only, even a hand-wash cycle in the machine can damage the garment.
Dry wool carefully
Wool should never be put in the dryer, unless it’s a professional one: not only will this shrink your garments, it will also set any stains that were not removed in the washing process. After you have washed your wool, whether by hand or machine, lay it flat on a towel to dry.
Gently roll the garment in the towel into a tight cylinder to remove any excess water. Unroll your clothing and lay it on a flat surface — never hang wool as it will cause lumpy, misshapen areas as it dries. While still damp, you can gently reshape the garment if necessary. At BLANC, we use machines to do just that, called "form finishers", which take lightly dried woollen garments and apply steam from within to give garments their shape back.
Store wool properly
Many people store wool clothing the same way they store regular clothing, but this is a mistake. Always make sure to clean and vertically brush each wool garment using a special textile brush before storing away in a drawer — never on a hanger, as this will stretch the fibres in the wrong way and cause the knit to drop, which will affect the fit.
Moths are naturally attracted to the proteins in wool fibres, so you should store your wool with natural cedar wood balls to protect against them. For added protection, you can even store them in plastic bags or containers.
So that's it, you now know everything you need to know to be able to take proper care of your wool items. Follow this guide and your woollen garments will stay in top condition for a long time.