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Washing Fleece

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Raw sheep fleece in bags

This washing process was taught to me by one of the ladies from the Victorian Feltmaker’s Association when I visited the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in 2004.

You will need:

  • A large bucket or laundry tub. I use my stainless steel laundry sink. (Never wash fleece anywhere you prepare food!)
  • Morning Fresh extra strength dish washing detergent. If you’re in the US I’m told that Dawn is the same thing.
  • A supply of really hot water. I use tap water, with my water heater on the second hottest setting.
  • An alarm clock or cooking timer (I use the alarm on my mobile phone. Since I rarely ever use it for making calls I figured I’d better put it to some use!).
  • A washing machine (don’t worry, you’ll only be using the spin cycle).

Step 1: Fill your sink with very hot water and add 2 – 4 tablespoons of dish washing detergent. I use 2 for a regular fleece and 4 for the first wash of a really dirty fleece.

Step 2: Take approximately 400gm (a bit less than 15oz) of skirted raw fleece and put it in the tub with the water and detergent. Make sure it’s all wet, then set your timer for 20 minutes.Go and have a cuppa or do something entertaining…

Step 3: When the alarm goes off, remove your fleece from the water. Don’t agitate it, just lift it straight up and out of the water. Let the water out of the sink and refill it with clean hot water, approximately the same temperature as the water you just let out. Put your wool back into the water and very gently push it to the back of the sink, then pull it forward again. If you do this slowly and gently it won;t felt. Let soak for another 20 minutes.

Repeat steps 1-3, making sure the water is approximately the same temperature as your wool, until you’re happy with the cleanliness of your fleece. I usually wash and rinse twice.

After the final rinse, spin out the excess water in your washing machine. Lay your fleece out in the shade to dry. Never dry wool in the sun as this can make it feel prickly and brittle.

Note: Never leave your fleece in the water for more than 20 minutes because the grease will start to settle back into it.

Copyright Sarah Bradberry August 26th 2005. All rights reserved.

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