July 22, 2022

How to clean a wool blanket (wash and care tips)

Whether you love the outdoors and need a Pendleton wool blanket to spend the evening near the campfire or you like a cozy wool blanket on your place to rest. Wool is a great material, with great attributes. Contrary to popular belief, wool is not difficult to wash, and taking your wool blanket to the dry cleaner is definitely not necessary.

Wool blankets can be washed at home. But, you do need to take proper care of your wool items. The best way to wash a wool blanket is in cold water on a gentle cycle, either by hand or in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. If you want to know more about how clean a wool blanket, let’s dive in!

For frequently asked questions regarding how to wash a wool blanket scroll down to the FAQ section.

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About wool

Wool fibers are great, natural fibers. Wool items feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Yes, you read that right. Wool garments can be worn very well in warmer weather too. That’s because wool is a good insulator. The structure of the wool fibers creates an air layer that insulates well. It is flame retardant and therefore a very good choice for bedding or near the campfire.

Perhaps the best thing to know in a busy household, wool is also self-cleaning. Really. Thanks to the natural lanolin (the wool wax), it only needs to be washed every now and then. Substances in the lanolin make wool water repellent and break down dirt. Hang your wool items to air in the morning or outside all night and in the morning they will be fresh again, ready for the next use.

Before you start washing it’s good to know that a new wool blanket does not need to be washed at all. In case you stained your wool blanket, it’s better to treat just the stained area, not wash the whole blanket.

A warm white colored onesie is pegged on the washing line. Drying outside in the clear blue sky

Wool-safe detergent

Because wool contains lanolin, you must use a detergent that is suitable for wool fibers. If you use a regular detergent it will remove all the lanolin. Wool blankets without any lanolin will get stiffer, lose their softness, and will be harder to clean. There’s wool-safe detergent that contains lanolin and there are wool-safe detergents that don’t contain lanolin. If you use detergent without lanolin it’s a good idea you use a diy lanolin spray to keep your wool blankets supple and soft.

DIY Lanolin spray with lavender on a wool underground.

Washing wool by hand

Although wool does not really need to be washed often, it may well be that your wool blanket gets dirty and really needs a good wash. If you do want to wash a woolen blanket completely, you can easily wash it by hand. If you have a heavy wool blanket, wash it in the washing machine, but do make sure your washing machine can handle the weight!

It is very important that do not wring or rub the wool item. Because the fibers of wool have a kind of scales, these will interlock and felt the wool blanket. As a direct result of friction it then becomes stiff and hard. Exactly what you don’t want for your favorite wool blankets.

It is best to use ox gall soap for treating stains on woolen blankets. Wet the bar of soap and rub (gently!) on the stain. You can do this to remove local stains without washing the entire blanket. If you want to treat stains in the wool blanket, you can do this before you wash it by hand or in the machine. Fill a bucket or tub with lukewarm water and detergent suitable for wool. Knead the wool making sure every part of the wool blanket is wet. Do not wring out the excess water, but squeeze it between your hands. Rinse with clean water untill all wool soap is rinsed out.

Laundry basket on a wooden table.

Machine washing wool

Always choose the wool setting for washing your wool blanket in the washing machine. This will wash the wool blanket in cold water on a gentle cycle. Hot water will make wool fabrics shrink and felt. I recommend you do a cold rinse before you start the gentle cycle for wool and delicates on your washing machine. Otherwise, the wool might not get throughly wet, because of the water repellent properties. Add wool-safe detergent and wash as on cold and a gentle cycle. Lower the rpm to max 800.

Be careful in case you have a very large and heavy wool blanket to wash. As wool soaks up the water it will get very heavy. Make sure you don’t overload your washing machine!

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Drying wool

Once you’ve hand washed your wool items, the best way is to take a clean towel (or more than one for a large blanket!) and roll your wool blanket in the dry towels much like how you would make a swiss roll. Squeeze out the excess water and lay the wool blanket on a flat surface to dry. You could hang your wool blanket over a drying rack, but the line will show on the blanket once it’s dry. It’s also best to dry your wool blanket in a shady spot as direct sunlight might turn the fibers yellowish.

When you use your washing machine to clean a wool blanket, I recommend to use a spin cycle of no more than 800 rpm. Most washing machines default to a lower spin speed when you select a program for wool and delicates. Hang to dry as you would for a hand washed wool blanket.

Never tumble dry your wool blanket or you’ll end up with a smaller, stiff, felted blanket!

Lint on wool blankets can easily be removed with a lint roller or lint brush.

Something old, something new

Although wool is a fabric that will last a long time, there may come a time when it’s no longer the prettiest. Think of ways you could reuse it. Small strips can be used for stuffing pillows, larger parts can be made into pillows, girls’ skirts or baby blankets.

If you’re looking for something new, these beautiful 100% wool blankets by Ziloen are something you want to check. Some are made exclusively for Ziloen and they ship worldwide! They carry a beautiful range or wool products.

Also, Home of Wool on Etsy sells some of the loveliest wool items. Be sure to check both!

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to clean a wool blanket?

The right way to clean a wool blanket is by hand in cold water or hand warm water with wool-safe detergent or in your washing machine on a gentle cycle in cold water.

  • Can you wash a wool blanket?

Although wool doesn’t need to be washed often, you can wash a wool blanket by hand or on a gentle cycle in your washing machine.

  • What temperature to wash a wool blanket?

Wash a wool blanket in cold water, no warmer than 30ºC or 86ºF. Never wash your wool blanket in hot water or it will felt.

  • What detergent for a wool blanket?

Use a wool-safe detergent either with our without added lanolin.

  • Which cycle for a wool blanket?

When you wash a wool blanket in you washing machine, select a gentle wash cycle with cold water and a gentle spin.

  • How to dry a wool blanket?

Wool blankets can be dried outside, but avoid direct sunlight as this might discolor the wool. Preferably, dry wool blankets on a flat surface.

  • Can I tumble dry a wool blanket?

No, never tumble dry a wool blanket. The blanket will felt because of the high temperature and the continuous spinning.

Notes

  • Always use detergent or soap suitable for wool fibres
  • Never wring or rub wool or it will felt and you’ll end up with a stiff wool blanket
  • Always use gentle cycle when machine washing wool blankets
  • Use handwarm or cold water
  • Shape the wool blanket when it’s still wet
  • Dry flat to avoid sagging
  • Treat small stains with gall soap
  • If drying outside, dry in a shady spot
  • Regularly spray your wool items with a lanolin spray to keep it soft.
DIY Lanolin spray with lavender on a wool underground.

Supplies

Laundry basket on a wooden table.

How to clean a wool blanket

Materials

  • Ox gall soap
  • Detergent or soap suitable for wool fibres

Tools

  • Lint remover

Instructions

Hand Wash


Fill a bucket or tub with lukewarm water and detergent suitable for wool. Knead the wool making sure every part of the wool blanket is wet. Don't wring or rub!
Do not wring out the excess water, but gently squeeze it between your hands.

Rinse with clean water untill all wool soap is rinsed out.

Machine wash


Do a cold rinse before you start the gentle cycle for wool and delicates on your washing machine. Use a spin cycle of no more than 800 rpm.
Add wool-safe detergent and wash as you would any laundry on a gentle cycle safe for wool and delicates.

Drying a wool blanket

Take a clean towel (or more than one for a large blanket!) and roll your wool blanket in the dry towels much like how you would make a swiss roll. Squeeze out the excess water

Lay the wool blanket on a flat surface to dry. Dry your wool blanket in a shady spot, not in direct sunlight.

Notes

  • Always use detergent or soap suitable for wool fibers
  • Never wring or rub wool or it will felt and you'll end up with a stiff wool blanket
  • Always use gentle cycle when machine washing wool blankets
  • Use handwarm or cold water
  • Shape the wool blanket when it's still wet
  • Dry flat to avoid sagging
  • Treat small stains with gall soap
  • When drying outside, dry in a shady spot

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2 Comments

  1. Krista July 26, 2022 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Love this! I need this info…

    • Tahnee July 26, 2022 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      Glad you could use it! Wool is such a wonderful material and stays so when taken care of :)

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