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Article: How To Wash & Dry Woollen Blankets

Wool Blanket Care Blog - Coates & Warner

How To Wash & Dry Woollen Blankets

Wool blankets are a staple of any household, they add warmth and texture to a sofa or bed and are perfect for cosying up into on a cold evening. Wool is one of the most durable, long lasting and difficult to damage materials, meaning that if well looked after they can last a lifetime. Its also incredibly soft and warm!

Wool blankets are very easy to care for and you don’t need to wash them often, in fact, it’s best to wash them sparingly to protect their natural fibres and the properties that make wool such a unique material. 

To help you care for and clean your wool blankets, we've written this handy guide full of our best tips to keep your blankets as beautiful as the day you bought them.

Wool is naturally self-cleaning

Wool is a fantastic natural fibre that has self-cleaning properties, meaning that luckily you can wash it less than other materials, and less washing ensures that the lifespan of your blanket is prolonged. 

Wool contains a fat called lanolin, which when moist changes to become a naturally occurring soap in the wool, cleaning the wool fibres and keeping the blanket hygienic. This doesn't mean you need to get the blanket wet to activate the lanolin soap, the moisture in the air is enough to continually clean the wool and help to prevent odours from building up in the blanket. 

Wool is hypoallergenic 

Wool is naturally resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria, all of which can trigger allergic reactions. Scientists have identified that wool has microscopic pores that change to environmental conditions such as humidity, making the material unfavourable for the growth of common allergens, such as dust mites which are a common trigger for allergies. 

Remove pilling that occurs

Pilling appears on wool blankets when fibres become loose and tangled together, forming small balls or knots, known as pills. Pilling is caused by friction, so usually the more you use and move against your blanket, the higher the chance that pills will occur. Its always best to keep on top of pills, removing them regularly so that it's an easy task rather than letting them build up and making it a much more arduous task! It also ensures that your blanket keeps looking like new for as long as possible.

Pills can be removed in two different ways, firstly by using a depilling comb or bobble remover. Lay your blanket on a flat surface and slowly move the comb in one direction over the target areas of the blanket to remove the pills, leaving the renewed fibres behind. Alternatively, you can also brush your wool blanket with a soft-bristle garment brush. In a similar fashion, lay the blanket on a flat surface and brush along the grain of the blankets fibres, removing the pills and smoothing the fibre and texture of the blanket. 

Dry liquids that spill onto the blanket

Wool is naturally stain resistant and water repellent. Due to the wools natural waxy film, liquids that are spilt onto it are repelled and will sit on top of the wool instead of absorbing into it. However, if left for too long, liquid will begin to soak into the wool and cause staining. If you spill liquid onto a wool blanket, simply wipe away as quickly as possible to avoid liquid staining. 

Shake and hang the blanket to air

We recommend that before washing your blanket, you shake and then ventilate it to freshen. Firstly, take your blanket outside and give it a good shake to loosen any dirt or dust from the blanket. Shaking the wool will also fluff the fibres and help to refresh the shape of the blanket. Next, hang the blanket in an area where there is good airflow, usually outside is the best place, and allow it to hand for a couple of hours on a dry day. Fresh air will help to remove any dirt that your initial shake didn't.  

How to treat spot staining  

Should you have staining in one place on your blanket, we recommend treating the spot stain prior to cleaning the entire blanket. To spot treat the blanket, wet the area of staining with lukewarm water and gently work in a small amount of specialist wool soap with your hands. Following this, wet a soft towel and gently dab the treated area to remove the water, soap and dirt. Ensure that all soap and dirt has been removed before moving onto either the main hand wash of the blanket, or drying it. 

Hand wash a wool blanket

We recommend hand washing a wool blanket. Most wool can't be washed in a washing machine because the heat causes it to shrink and the spin cycle can cause the shape to change. Hand washing is simple and quick, and anyone can do it in their own home. 

To hand wash a blanket all you require is water and a suitable wool soap, we recommend the Norfolk Natural Living Wool & Silk Wash.  This wool soap is specially formulated to gently clean wool and utilises plant-based technology with naturally derived ingredients, meaning its free from chlorine and bleach! 

To wash your wool blanket, simply fill your sink or bath with lukewarm water (30ºC or less) and add the wool soap. Keep in mind that if the water is too warm it can cause the wool fibres to shrink which can distort the shape of the blanket. Mix the water and soap together until a nice foam has developed. Once ready, submerge your blanket into the soapy water, and let it soak for a minimum of 10 minutes. 

Next, gently rub the blanket with your hands to work the soapy water into the wool fibers. Do not rub the fabric together, like you might do when you wash other fabrics, friction will cause pilling to occur and can damage the softness of the blanket. 

Finally, once you're satisfied that you've sufficiently cleaned the blanket, remove it from the soapy water and rinse it with clean, cold water. Do this until all soap has been removed from the blanket.

Dry flat to avoid stretching the wool

Drying a wool blanket following cleaning needs care and attention, otherwise you can stretch the wool and damage the shape of the blanket.  Do not hang your wet blanket to dry as you would with cotton or man made fibres, instead, press any water out of the blanket and then lay it on a flat surface to air dry. Laying flat will prevent it from loosing its shape. If you wish to dry your blanket quicker, place towels under your blanket on the flat surface to absorb the water. 

Once the blanket is relatively dry to touch, you can then hang it either indoor or outdoors to air dry. Ensure the location you hang the blanket is well-ventilated with good air flow, and not in direct bright sunlight, as this can cause the colouring in the wool to fade. 

Avoid putting a wool blanket into a dryer, as it can destroy the softness and shape. 

The best way to store wool blankets

Wool blankets are for all seasons and can be enjoyed year-round. However, if you do need to store a wool blanket, place it in a breathable container such as a cotton storage bag and place in a dry, dark place. By placing it in a breathable container, it is being protected from common pests such as moths and also preventing dampness from occurring that can damage the fibres of the wool. If needed, you can also place some natural moth repellent into the container which is odour free.  

Do you have any questions or need more advice?

If you require any further assistance with caring for, or cleaning your wool blanket, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and a member of our friendly team will be able to further advise further via email.