Yes, you can! Improvements in technology mean that questions like ‘can you machine wash wool’ and ‘can you wash wool in the washing machine’ are a thing of the past – many fully automatic washing machines now have special cycles dedicated to wool, like these by Electrolux and Godrej. Even if you don’t have a ‘wool’ cycle, your machine probably has a ‘delicate’ or ‘hand wash’ feature that you can use instead.
The most important thing you need to do before washing your woolen garment in the machine is to check the manufacturer’s care label. This will give you details of the recommended method of cleaning your garment. Some woolen items, like trousers, should only be dry cleaned; and others, like socks, should be hand-washed, as explained below.
How to Wash Wool in the Washing Machine
Wool is a delicate natural fibre that’s very absorbent, so it can be prone to shrinking, becoming misshapen, or changing consistency if it is treated too roughly when washed. To keep your woollen garments looking and feeling good, follow these guidelines:
- Wash wool less frequently. As it is a natural, self-regulating fibre, wool does not actually need to be cleaned as frequently as other clothes. The best approach is to spot-clean stains wherever possible – gently blotting instead of rubbing. You can also air woollen garments after wearing them.
- Wash darks and lights separately. It can be particularly difficult to remove colour run from natural fibre fabrics.
- Use a gentle detergent. Preferably use one designed especially for wool. If you’re using powdered detergent, dissolve it in a little water before adding it to the wash to avoid damaging the wool.
- Turn the garment inside out before you wash it. This will prolong the good condition of your garment.
- Soak the garment in cold water before you put it in the machine. This will minimize the likelihood of agitation causing shrinkage in the machine.
- Always use a cold water cycle. Even warm water will cause wool to shrink.
- Minimize agitation in the machine. Agitation helps natural fibres to shrink and felt. Be sure to use a gentle setting on your machine and don’t overload it.
- Never tumble dry. The heat from the machine will shrink your garment, no matter how careful you’ve been at washing it.
Can I Wash a Wool Sweater in the Washing Machine?
Yes, you can and it’s easy to do. Just check the care label on your garment and follow these steps:
- For fully automatic machines, add the sweater and start it on the appropriate setting (wool, delicate, or hand wash), adding the detergent to the tray, not directly to the drum.
- For semi-automatic machines, fill the machine with cold water mixed with detergent before you add the sweater.
- Let the sweater soak in the detergent water, before agitating very gently.
- Drain the water and rinse twice, with little agitation.
- Do not do a spin, but squeeze excess water from the sweater gently into the drum.
- Lay the sweater on a clean dry towel and place a second towel on top.
- Roll the towels up to squeeze out excess water.
- Unroll the towels and adjust the shape of the sweater to make sure it is evenly stretched.
- Leave in a flat position to dry.