How to wash Raw Wool

Washing raw wool is to remove the lanolin from the fibres, this is what makes the wool feel oily, but is the sheeps natural waterproofing! The water needs to be boiling to effectively melt the oil off the wool, maintain this heat other wise the lanolin will not be removed effectively! Avoid any squeezing, shaking or agitating the wool as this will start the felting process which you don’t want!

Raw Wool

Raw Wool

Equipment needed:

2 large buckets – I use a large 42 litre garden flexible plastic tub

A wooden spoon

Washing up liquid

Washing Machine / laundry mesh net bag

Steps:

  1. You want to start with a big arm full of wool, around 200g. So if you have a whole fleece then about a third of this. You don’t want to wash too much at once! First job is to pick out any big bits of straw, mud, twigs etc. This is called scouring, don’t go mad pulling out everything, just the most obvious big bits to start with
  2. Place your scoured raw wool inside a mesh laundry bag
  3. Boil the kettle and fill your bucket enough to cover your bag of wool (don’t put the wool int he water yet!!)
  4. Once the waters in you want to pour in washing up liquid, I usually start squeezing and round to 10! Give it a stir
  5. Now sink your bag of wool into the bucket using a wooden spoon, gently push the wool underneath the water
  6. Leave for around 20mins
  7. Next remove the bag of wool from the water, holding it above the bucket to let most of the water drip from the bag, place into the empty second bucket
  8. Pour away the dirty water. Boil the kettle again and repeat steps 3-7
  9. Repeat steps 3-7 again and again. You can gradually reduce the temperature of the water each time you refresh the water but always warm, never reduce to cold. The aim is to have clear water.
  10. On the last time you remove the bag from the water gently squeeze the excess water from the wool then you want to lay it out somewhere to dry.
  11. Find an old towel and gently push onto the wool to remove the excess, then lay the wool out to dry naturally. Ideally outside in the sunshine otherwise near a heater or in an airing cupboard

How to Scour Washed Wool

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