There’s nothing quite like the cozy warmth of a wool blanket on a cold day. Unfortunately, many people consider wool one of the trickiest fibers to care for since it is very easy to accidentally damage the fabric. Wool requires special handling when washing and drying, or it can shrink and have its texture ruined forever.
While handwashing or dry cleaning wool is the safest method, wool blankets can be washed in a home washing machine. The blankets should be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle, using wool-safe detergents. Avoid drying wool in a dryer and instead allow it to air dry.
Once you become more familiar with wool, you’ll realize it isn’t as difficult to work with as it may seem. As long as you follow the proper steps for washing your wool blankets in your washing machine, you shouldn’t run into any issues with damage to the fabric. Keep reading and we’ll explain everything you need to know about how to wash wool blanket.
- Can You Put Wool in the Washer?
- How to Wash Wool Blanket: 6 Steps
- How to Dry Wool Blanket
- Does the Washing Machine Ruin Wool?
- Does Wool Shrink in Cold Water?
- How Often Should I Wash a Wool Blanket?
- What Detergents are Safe for Wool Blankets?
- How to Wash a Military Wool Blanket
- Is Vinegar Safe to Use on Wool Blankets?
- How to Wash a Vintage Wool Blanket
Can You Put Wool in the Washer?
Yes, you certainly can put wool in the washer. However, you won’t want to run it through on a normal cycle like you would the rest of your laundry. You’ll need to take precautions to protect the fabric as best as possible.
Wool does not do well with heat, so cold water is a must. Avoid spinning or moving the fabric excessively since this can cause its fibers to merge. Instead, set your washing machine to a gentle cycle that doesn’t agitate the fabric too much.
Washing machines are generally safe for wool, but remember that they can still cause damage. If you are concerned about your fabrics, it may be safer to hand wash them or take them to a dry cleaner who has experience working with wool. However, for most wool fabrics, this won’t be necessary and you can do the washing at home at your convenience.
While wool can safely be put in the washer, the same can’t be said for the dryer. The heat from the dryer can cause wool fabrics to shrink and the texture to be ruined. You’ll want to avoid drying your wool garments or blankets if possible.
How to Wash Wool Blanket: 6 Steps
1. Remove Any Surface Debris
Before you place your wool blanket into your washing machine, take a moment to remove any surface debris you see. You can shake the blanket to allow any loosely attached particles to fall off. Hanging the blanket to air it out can also help remove any loose particles trapped in the fibers.
After you get the loose particles out, you’ll need to work on the ones trapped deeper in wool fibers. To do this, brush the surface of the blanket with a soft-bristled brush to lift any debris embedded in the fabric. You should always brush in the same direction to avoid tangling the fibers and causing them to mat.
2. Spot Clean Stains
Once you’ve lifted as much dirt as possible, check the blanket for noticeable stains. You can treat the spots with a mixture of cold water and wool-safe detergent. Mix the two until the soap is slightly runny and then apply it directly to the stain.
Alternatively, you can dab a small amount of club soda onto the spot. The air bubbles in the soda can trap and then lift any stains from the fabric. Just be sure to only use club soda that is clear and does not have any dyes or flavorings.
As a third option, mix ⅓ cup of white vinegar with ⅔ cusp of cold water and apply it to the stain. Vinegar is an excellent cleaner and is gentle enough to use on wool. Just be sure to only use white vinegar since other types can cause stains on their own.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to soak the area with the solution and then blot it with a clean paper towel or rag. To be safe, test an inconspicuous spot on the fabric before applying your solution. This helps to check that the dyes in the wool are colorfast and won’t bleed.
3. Soak the Blanket
With washing wool, the goal is to spin the fabric as little as possible. Too much movement while cleaning can ruin the fibers and the feel of the blanket. You can minimize how much spinning you have to do by soaking your blanket first.
Fill your washing machine or a large basin with cold water. Add in wool-safe detergent according to the directions on the package. Then, place your wool blanket into the water and allow it to soak for 15 minutes.
Make sure that the fabric is fully submerged, but don’t agitate it. The soak is just meant to dampen the fabric and lift away some of the dirt and odors.
4. Quick Wash in the Washing Machine
Once your wool blanket has finished soaking, transfer it and the water mixture to the washing machine if it is not already there. Then, set the cycle to whatever the gentlest setting on your machine is. Wash your wool blanket on the gentle cycle for just a few minutes – no more than five.
Again, the goal is to avoid moving the wool as much as possible while it is submerged in water. After you wash the blanket on the gentle cycle for a short interval, run a rinse cycle. This should remove all the soap from the blanket, but you can repeat the rinse cycle if necessary.
Remember that any water used on the blanket should be as cold as your machine or faucet will allow. Cold water is standard for rinsing on most machines, but be sure to check your settings to be safe.
5. Air Dry the Blanket
Once the soap has been completely rinsed from the fabric, you’ll need to dry it. Do not place your wool blanket in a dryer since the heat will ruin it. You also want to avoid wringing out the fabric since this can cause the blanket to lose shape.
If you feel like there is too much water in your blanket after the rinse cycle, you can remove the excess by rolling the blanket up in a dry towel. Lay the towel flat on a table or countertop, and then place the blanket on top. Gently roll up the towel, slightly squeezing.
If enough water has been removed, you can begin to air dry the blanket. Hang the blanket in a safe place that won’t damage the fabric, ideally indoors or in a shaded place. Too much sunshine can cause wool to shrink as it dries.
6. Storing Wool Blankets in a Safe Place
Once your wool blanket is dry, you can use it as you normally would! Drape it over the end of your bed or hang it on a blanket ladder to display in your room. However, if you’re planning on storing it away until next winter, you’ll need to take a few precautions.
Moths and other pests are a huge problem for wool fabrics since they will eat holes into the material. Moisture can also be an issue that can break down the wool fibers as well. You can prevent these issues by storing your wool in airtight places that neither pests nor water can reach.
An air-tight plastic container is a good option, though a carefully wrapped and sealed plastic bag will also work. Storing wool around cedar wood can also help get rid of moths, which is why cedar chests have long been a popular storage area for blankets and other home fabrics.
Avoid spraying your wool with pest deterrent chemicals since they are typically unnecessary as long as you properly store your fabrics. This also goes for products like moth balls, which work but leave your clothes smelling bad unnecessarily.
How to Dry Wool Blanket
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – do not use heat on your wool blanket. This will almost always ruin the fabric by shrinking it or causing the fibers to mat together. Instead, try to air dry it.
Hang your wool blanket or lay it flat to dry. Be careful not to place it in direct sunlight since it can also cause damage, much like a dryer. Air drying is a slower process, but it is worth it if it saves your blankets.
Does the Washing Machine Ruin Wool?
Washing machines are typically safe for wool fabrics if you use the proper settings. Cold water is essential since hot temperatures will ruin wool. You should also do your best to avoid jostling the fabric while wet since too much of this can cause it to mat together.
If you follow the steps listed above, you should not have any problems with your washing machine ruining your wool blankets. However, if you’re still concerned, I recommend hand washing or taking your fabrics to a trusted dry cleaner.
Does Wool Shrink in Cold Water?
Cold water by itself will not cause your wool to shrink. It is preferred over hot water since the heat is what will damage the wool fabric. What can cause issues is washing wool in any temperature of the water and agitating it.
Agitating wool fabric while it is wet will cause the fibers to bunch together in ways that cannot be undone. This will cause irreversible damage to your wool blankets and will ruin their overall look and feel. This can happen even if you use cold water, so avoid agitating your fabric more than necessary.
How Often Should I Wash a Wool Blanket?
Wool blankets, surprisingly, do not need to be washed all that often. In fact, you can wash them about once every three months and be perfectly okay. Why is this?
Wool fabrics are naturally very resistant to mold, mildew, and bacteria. That’s because wool is naturally produced by animals such as sheep, which need their wool to keep moisture and dirt away from their skin. These benefits transfer to you as the blanket owner and you’ll find that you don’t have to wash wool all that often because of them.
We generally think of washing as a positive thing, but too much can damage wool. The more times you wet the fabric, the more chances you give it to shrink or for the fibers to stick to one another. You’re better off waiting and only washing your blankets a few times throughout the year.
The only exception is if your blanket has been stained or had something spilled on it. You will want to wash it right away to prevent the stain from setting in. You can spot-treat it with wool-safe detergent, soda water, or a vinegar solution to avoid washing the entire blanket.
What Detergents are Safe for Wool Blankets?
Wool fabrics need to be washed with gentle wool-safe detergents that won’t cause them any damage. Choose one that is mild and ideally free of many dyes and chemicals. You should avoid any heavy-duty detergents, enzyme-based cleaners, or any products that use bleach.
Many wool-safe detergents will say as much on their labels. These products may refer to themselves as a “wool wash” or another similar description. Always be sure to read the product label completely and follow the directions given to ensure you are using it correctly and won’t accidentally damage your wool.
How to Wash a Military Wool Blanket
Given that these military blankets are made of wool, they can generally be washed in the same way you would any other wool blankets. Wash your military wool blanket with cold water using a gentle wash cycle. Don’t let it agitate in the water for more than a few minutes.
Then, run it through a rinse cycle and lay the blanket out to air dry. Don’t be tempted to wring it out since this will make it look misshapen. Don’t dry it, or it will shrink.
Additionally, only use a wool-safe detergent on your military wool blanket. These will be mild and safe enough to use even on this tricky fabric.
Is Vinegar Safe to Use on Wool Blankets?
Yes, vinegar is safe to use on wool blankets. It is commonly mixed with water to spot treat stains on wool fabric. You can mix one part white vinegar with two parts cold water and dab it on any stains.
You should still check that it does not bleed the fabric by first applying it to an inconspicuous area. Dab the stain until it has lifted, then rinse the vinegar or place the blanket into the washing machine.
How to Wash a Vintage Wool Blanket
Vintage wool blankets need a bit of extra care when you wash them. Any vintage fabrics tend to be more delicate than modern products, meaning you need to be extra gentle.
If you think that the fibers of your vintage wool blanket are in good shape, you can still wash it as you would typically do so. Use cold water, a gentle cycle, and avoid agitating it unnecessarily. Remove stubborn smells by giving the blankets a good soak in cold water before you wash them.
You can add wool-safe detergent to your soak or even a small amount of white vinegar. This will help to lift away smells while not agitating and damaging the wool.
If your vintage wool blankets are in rougher shape, you may want to avoid washing them in the washing machine altogether. Even a slight amount of agitation can make holes in vintage fabrics worsen. Instead, soak the blanket as usual and then carefully agitate it by hand for a couple of minutes.
Don’t wring the blanket out, however. Gently squeeze it with a towel before laying it out to dry. Don’t place it in the dryer or direct sunshine since either will damage the vintage fabric.
Wool blankets have been a household staple for generations and are perfect for staying warm when the weather is cool. Now that you have become more familiar with how to properly wash your wool blankets, I hope that you feel comfortable doing so on your own. Keep this guide handy as you work, and don’t be afraid to refer back to it as you need.