Even though felt is widely known all over he world many people still ask if it is okay to wash it. I’m regularly asked if the colours and picture will stay after washing or if the material itself won’t sprawl. No it won’t.
It is okay to wash felted wool. But wool is a delicate material. So if you decide not to commit that job to dry cleaners, here are some advice to follow.
- Woolen felt should be hand washed only in water not hotter than 40 °С.Otherwise the fabric can shrink or what’s even worse loose its form. Hot water combined with mechanical movement (like in washing machine) makes wool fibers tangle tighter, shrinking felt.
- To ensure your felt is in good condition after washing, use special washers, containing lanolin. Lanolin is a natural fat produced by sheepskin to protect wool from environment: dirt, bacteria, dryness and fragility. It makes wool fiber flexible, moisturized, soft, glossy and – clean. Yep, it really makes it clean in some magic way, which explains the fact that your woolen clothes don’t really need a wash:
- It’s enough just to soak it in warm water with lanolin-rich washer for a couple of hours.
- Wool should be hand-wringed as whole piece, wrapped as a ball with no twisting. Twisting deforms the fabric. Wool fibers hold together because of the overlapping scales on their surface. While the material is dry these scales keep closed and the felt is strong. But when the material is soaked in warm soapy water the scales on fibers open making felt stretchy. The issue with twisting is that it stretches fabric in different parts not evenly. That makes fabric look unpleasant and lumpy.
- It’s always better to iron wool right after wringing. Iron with steam on two dots mode (130-160 °С).
- Dry flat.
This is a complete list. Only six rules. They might seem a beet complicated especially now when we’re used to washing machines and tumble dryers, but really they are not to much if you want your unique felted scarf or sweater serve you their longest.
Enjoy your felts!