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How to wash wool

And how not to wash wool…

by Cybele
I can see the humour in most of my domestic failings, which is lucky because there are many, but some still make me flinch to think of them.
The household’s laundry is one of my chores, not because I am a skilled washer (mad scientist moments are often my undoing), but because I am one of those weird creatures that likes hanging out the washing – within reason. Everyone in the house is still reminded not to push their luck on this or they’ll be washing their own long Johns before you can say short Dick.
The washing line is still my friend, because when I’m there I can enjoy the sunshine, watch the birds, check if my baby plants have grown and generally escape to la-la land for a few moments. This is probably why laundry detergents and stain removers are some of my favourite experiments.

Red socks in a white wash

The red sock that found its way into the white wash and dyed everything a cheery shade of pink led to the banishment of red socks. Even though Gordon took my suggestion on board that only real men have the balls to wear pink business shirts and socks.
He tested out my theory of manliness with good grace until enough washes and some experiments with lemon eventually returned the shirt to white. Red socks make much better hand puppets and are less likely to terrorise the white washing that way.

Tissues in the wash

Bah. Checking pockets is not the most interesting job in the world and since cargo trousers with their endless pockets made their way into civilian wear, I will take all care but no responsibility. I have had some success by slowly replacing the tissues in the home with handkerchiefs and their no-sew friends.

The shrinking of the Wooly BullIMG_0866

The one that shrank is the one that hurts the most. The beautiful jumper (aka sweater), lovingly made by my mother’s friend, was a navy, cable-knit one for Heckle. It was just like the one his grandfather, my father, used to wear. My father wore his so much he’d named it Wooly Bull.
On a whim and having run out of wool wash, I poured in the ‘normal’ laundry detergent with all its oxygenated, leaping-tall-building powers and washed…
I did have some luck remedying the error of my ways by soaking the withered jumper in conditioner, so Heckle could wear it a little longer and one saving grace is that Heckle’s little brother will be able to wear it.
Now I make my own wool wash (and laundry detergent too, but that’s a story for another day), so I can always have it when I need it.

Homemade Wool Wash Recipe

IngredientsHow to wash wool

4 tablespoons soap flakes or grated soap
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup hair conditioner (the cheap ones are fine for this)
10 drops essential oil – eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon or peppermint work well

How to make wool wash

1. Add soap flakes to a jar,How to wash wool 2. pour the boiling water in and stir until dissolved.How to wash wool 3. Mix in hair conditionerHow to wash wool
4. Stir in essential oils.How to wash wool
I find that some soaps, like solid Castile soap, can take longer to dissolve and may need encouragement. So I put them in a saucepan and stir over a low heat before adding the other ingredients.
A teaspoon of this wool wash will wash a bucket of woolly bulls.
Does anyone know a good way to rescue woolens that have shrunk?

About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. This is great! I’ll add making my own wool wash to my to do list this weekend! I remember when my husband & I first met, he did a load with my 3 gorgeous cashmere jumpers that my mum gave me, and he shrunk them all. I had him pulling on the ends of my sleeves until we both fell over, but it still didn’t work 🙂

  2. Shannon Lush’s Spotless (the first book) has an un-shrinking method that intrigued me but I have not yet tried. I can’t find my copy just now but from memory there is some magic old-school ingredient (might be fuller’s earth) and some boiling on a stove. I had visions of cauldrons… I would love to find out if it works.

  3. I’d love an excuse to buy a cauldron! I just found the one you’re talking about and you’re absolutely right, it’s Fuller’s Earth. Basically, you add 2 tablespoons of Fuller’s Earth to a bucket of warm water, add the shrunken item, squeeze a bit to make sure it’s wet. Leave it for 10-15 minutes. Gently stretch it out on a towel while it’s drying.
    Thank you! I’m going to try this x

  4. Fabulous (the home made wool wash not the shrunken jumper). Must try and make some of this for home.

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