Instructions for washing wool

  • Skirt your fiber by pulling out and disposing any wool that is caked solid with manure or mud.  Pay particular attention to fiber that comes from the underbelly, anal/genital area and legs. Often wool from the neck will be full of chaff. Pull it out and dispose of that, too.   Wool that is simply dirty, but not matted into clumps, may be washed and processed. Pull out and dispose any burrs, hay and weeds, chaff or other organic debris. Remove as much of this trash as possible–the more time you spend at this the better the quality of the end product.
  • Fill your washing machine with HOT water (top loaders only). OR, you can just use a wash tub or even your bathtub. Add laundry detergent at 4x normal strength you would use for washing clothes, along with 12-16 oz of Pine-Sol or similar degreaser.  Put 5 to 7.5 pounds of wool into the machine. GENTLY push the wool down into the water spreading it out evenly.
  • DO NOT allow the machine to go into agitate cycle–doing so will cause the fiber to turn to felt–leave the lid UP!  
  • Allow the wool to soak for 10 minutes or so. You might want to gently move the wool around a bit from time to time, but avoid any vigorous actions, which will cause felting.

tunis sheep 1

  • You may use the spin cycle to remove the dirty water. Spinning will not cause felting–agitating will.
  • Repeat steps 2-5.
  • Rinse the wool by repeating steps 2-5, without the soap.
  • Allow the wool to air dry, spreading it out and turning it occasionally to prevent mold.