Washing Woolens

How to hand-wash wool clothing to avoid the dry cleaner and stay zero waste | Litterless

I don't visit the dry cleaner very often anymore - but don't worry, neither do I turn a blind eye and just pretend my clothes are clean enough to wear when really they aren't. The dry cleaner is a triple threat: expensive, toxic (carcinogens abound in the dry cleaning process), and wasteful (all those plastic bags!). Also, inconvenient. Make that a quadruple threat.

Instead, I've turned to carefully washing my more delicate clothing items at home. I used to be scared that I'd ruin favorite sweaters or handknit hats, but with a bit of care I've found that wool garments can be washed at home easily.

-Fill a large mixing bowl with lukewarm water, and add a bit of a gentle cleanser (Dr. Bronner's works well, and can be purchased package-free at many zero waste-friendly grocery stores).

-Working with one garment at a time, submerge your woolen piece in the sudsy water. Carefully scrub at particularly dirty spots (such as the inside brim of a hat, the fingers of gloves, or the underarms of sweaters) using a clean washcloth.

-Rinse the garment by running lukewarm water into the bowl until the water runs clear. Don't let the stream of water directly hit your piece of clothing, because the pressure may cause it to felt slightly. Gentleness is the name of the game here.

-Empty the water from the bowl, and lightly press on the garment to remove excess water. Lay your piece flat on a towel. In 12 hours or so, flip it over to circulate air and allow the other side to dry. When it's 90% dry, you can hang it up on a drying rack so that air can flow over all sides.

I've been washing a few things at a time this way, and have been loving the sweet reward of cozying up in a clean, fresh-smelling scarf or sweater. Do you have any wool washing tips to add?