There's been a lot of vague philosophizing around here lately. I think it's high time we got tangible.
There are a bajillion different ways to wash woolen garments. The official way is to go buy some sort of wool-washing shampoo and use it, following their directions. That's great, but I prefer using what I have around the house.
YOU WILL NEED:
- mild dish detergent (really, the milder the better) OR very mild herbal shampoo (again, the milder the better)
- plain simple vinegar OR lemon juice
- two dry plushy towels per sweater
Gather all your woolens and go find a bathtub. Then proceed to step one.
- Fill your bucket with hot-ish water. Don't be too hot about it; stay in the almost-lukewarm region. Meanwhile, squirt in a bit of detergent or shampoo. Do not do not do not place your woolens in until you have turned off the water.
- Turn off the water. (No, really.)
- Gently, ever-so-gently, sink your dirty woolen garment into the bucket of soapy water, being careful not to do it too fast (you don't want to agitate the fibers). Let soak for a while (a ten minute soak is nice).
- Gently, ever-so-gently, lift your garment out of the bucket and set aside. Pour out dirty water and fill with equally hot-ish clean water (no detergent). Sink garment into bucket again. Soak for a while again.
- Gently, ever-so-gently, lift garment out and set aside. Pour out, fill with equally hot-ish clean water with vinegar or lemon juice. (Why? Because wool is a protein fiber, and the soap will eventually eat away at the fibers, weakening them permanently, unless you counteract this problem with the assistance of sparkly helpful vinegar or lemon juice. Good stuff.) Sink garment in again, let soak for a while.
- Gently, ever-so-gently, lift garment out and set aside. Pour out, fill with equally hot-ish clean water with absolutely only water and nothing else, and gently sink in and soak the garment for yet another while.
- Lift out, squeeze a bit (do NOT wring, do NOT wring), and set flat onto a plushy dry towel. Roll the garment tightly within that towel until you've gotten as much water as possible out.
- Place garment onto second towel and shape to the desired dimensions. Set towel (with garment flat on top) in a warm dry place until the garment is dry.
- Nice work.
Yeah, it's kind of tedious, but you get lots of soaking breaks during which you can write thank-you notes, paint your toenails, solve world hunger, or knit a couple rows on another sweater that you'll have to wash someday. : )
Ohhh and just so you know, you can cheat a little bit on the drying part when it comes to small items like socks, mittens, and hats. Instead of rolling them in a towel, you can often squeeze them enough to stop the dripping (but still, please don't wring them). Then, instead of laying flat to dry, you can hang them over a plastic hanger or over the side of the stairs. They might stretch out a little bit, but it won't matter so much and it won't happen so much with small items. I do it this way all the time.