How to Wash Mohair & Wool
Washing your own wool and mohair is easier than you might think! You can do it in a sink or bathtub without any expensive equipment. In fact, everything you need can often be found in your home or purchased at most grocery or big box stores. And it can save you a lot of money, making your fiber budget go even farther!
What You Need:
- Some “raw,” or unwashed, wool or mohair; also sometimes referred to as “in the grease” (check out our inventory here: PFF online store)
- A sink or bathtub
- Hot water
- Mesh lingerie bags commonly used for washing delicates
- Soap: liquid dish soap works well for both wool and mohair as do specialty wool scours that can be purchased online; for mohair, even shampoo can be used
- Drying rack: these can be homemade or store bought. I use sweater drying racks that I purchased for just a few dollars
- Optional: Rubber dishwashing gloves
Start by “skirting” your fiber, or removing any heavily soiled or matted areas as well as any bits of hay, chaff, burrs, stickers, leaves, manure, sticks, etc (also called vegetative matter, or VM for short).
Next, put small amounts of the skirted fiber into small, mesh lingerie bags – I like to put about half a pound or so in each of mine, but feel free to put more or less depending on your own preference
Add water to your bathtub or sink at the hottest temperature your tap will allow and the soap of your choice. Add the soap while the water is running to get a good amount of suds.
BE CAREFUL: Depending on how hot your water is, you can scald yourself easily in hot water; wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Fill the tub only as deep as it takes to completely submerge your bags of fiber — no need to fill the tub to the top. Once the water is at the appropriate level, turn off the water.
BE CAREFUL: It is important that you not allow running water to come into contact with your fiber; it could cause matting. One by one, gently place your mesh bags of fiber on the surface of the water and slowly submerge them into the water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent hot water from burning your hands. Alternatively, you could use a wooden spoon, potato masher, or other kitchen utensil to slowly submerge the bags.
Allow the fiber to soak for at least 15 minutes to about an hour or so. It is often best to remove the fiber before the water cools completely, especially when working with wool that has high lanolin content. With mohair, it is fine to let it soak to cooling. You will notice that the water gets really dirty and gross looking as it removes dirt from the fiber.
When the fiber has soaked for a sufficient amount of time, remove it from the tub before draining the water. To do this, lift each bag out of the water individually and gently squeeze out any excess water.
BE CAREFUL: Do not wring or agitate the fiber. Set the bags of fiber into a bowl or laundry basket and, once all fiber is removed, drain the tub.
Refill the tub with soap and water and, once again, gently submerge all bags of fiber once the tub is filled. Repeat the soaking process until your wash water is clear. Now you are ready to rinse. After washing, I usually give my fiber an additional 1 to 2 soaks in hot water without soap to remove any soap left behind in the washing process. When the fiber is rinsed to your satisfaction, remove the fiber and squeeze out any excess water.
At this point, I like to really get rid of excess water in the fiber so that it takes less time to dry. To accomplish this, I put the bags of fiber into the washing machine and run the spin cycle.
BE CAREFUL: It is important to ensure that your washing machine’s spin cycle involves no agitation or input of water. It must truly be spin only!
Once the spin cycle has completed, it is time to lay your fiber out to dry. Empty the contents of each mesh bag onto your drying rack and spread the fiber out to allow for maximum air flow. Place the drying rack in a place with good air flow but out of direct sunlight where it won’t be disturbed by wind, children, or curious cats – I put mine in the bathroom, but many people like to dry their fiber outdoors
Once dry, your fiber is ready to dye, process, or use as is! That wasn’t so hard, was it?