image of a wool dryer ball

How to wash wool without ruining it.

Last Updated: October 18, 2021

Wondering how to clean your wool blanket, sweater, or socks without ruining them? Learn how to wash wool the right way with these easy tips and tricks.

When those chilly fall and winter days arrive, nothing’s better than cozying up in your favorite warm wool sweaters and blankets.

Wool is a wonderful natural fiber known for its warmth and moisture-wicking capabilities. But since it’s a little more delicate than cotton or polyester, you’ve got to show it some extra TLC. So, here’s how to wash wool — the right way.

First, what are the benefits of wool clothes?

Curious about some of the key benefits of wool over other materials? The International Wool Textile Organization boasts that wool:

  • Doesn’t have to be washed as often as other textiles, which means it has a lower impact on the environment
  • Is a protein-based fiber that easily biodegrades on both land and water (meaning less landfill pollution)
  • Has a long lifespan, so wool clothing can be worn longer than other textile fiber products

How do you wash wool without ruining it?

The best way to avoid ruining your wool is to check the care label for any special instructions — and follow them.

Since wool is naturally stain- and odor-resistant, its self-regulating fibers don’t require as much washing as other fabrics. That means that taking care of wool is both simple and friendly to the planet!

Can you wash wool in the washing machine?

Some wool items are machine washable, but others aren’t. No label? Probably best to assume you need to hand-wash it.

To keep your machine-washable wool looking fabulous, only wash wool sweaters, socks, blankets, and other items when absolutely necessary.

If you only need to spot-treat a few stains, hand wash the item to help retain its shape and cuddly, soft texture.

How to clean wool in the washing machine

When it’s time for washing, use a gentle, natural laundry detergent. Then, follow these easy-peasy steps to handle your wool items with care:

2. Turn wool clothing inside-out.

Illustration of 3 water droplets

4. Set the machine to the extra rinse setting.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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Like other appliances, washing machines need a little care from time to time. Learn just how easy it is to clean your washing machine to keep your laundry smelling fresh and looking great!

Grove Tip

Lay wool flat to dry

If you’re wondering how to dry wool, we’ve got a few tips. First, don’t put your wool sweaters or other items in the dryer, or they might shrink! And don’t hang them to dry, or they might stretch!

Instead, place a clean, dry towel on a flat surface, lay the item on top to air dry, and adjust it so it keeps its shape as it dries.

How do you hand wash wool?

If some of your fave wool items aren’t machine washable, no need to panic when they get dirty! Get your hand-washable wool spic-‘n’-span in just a few simple steps:

Blue sink illustration

1. Prep the bath and the garment

Add a bit of mild detergent to lukewarm water in a sink or tub.

Turn your garment inside out, and gently swish it around in the water for a minute or two to get it nice and soaked.

2. Soak, then rinse

Leave the garment in the water for about 10 minutes.

Swish again, then drain the sink and fill it up with clean water to rinse. Repeat.

Purple hand illustration

3. Remove the excess water

Don’t wring out the garment, or it’ll stretch.

Instead, press as much water out as possible with your hands (kind of like kneading dough), and lay the item flat on a clean towel to dry.

Want to see just how easy it is to hand-wash wool? Check out this short video!

How to care for wool between washes

Since wool is so resilient, you shouldn’t need to wash your wool items very often.

If you’re looking for ways to get stains out of wool or want to refresh your wool clothing and bedding, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the job done:

  • Spot-clean minor stains by blotting the stain with mild soap and water.
  • Remove annoying junk like pet hair, lint, or fuzz with a lint brush.
  • Air out wool clothing or blankets after each use to keep them smelling fresh.
  • Store wool items in an airtight bin at the end of the season to prevent pests like moths, silverfish, and carpet beetles from snacking on them.

Learn how to clean all of your blankets — including the wool and weighted ones — with our guide to washing blankets. While you’re at it, read up on how to wash all of your clothes and bedding naturally with our ultimate laundry guide.

Grove Tip

How to care for Merino wool

To care for Merino wool, machine wash on the gentle cycle in cool water. Don’t use bleach or fabric softeners, since these harsh chemicals can destroy the wool fibers.

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