Wool is often prone to shrinking in the wash. As the weather gets colder and the knitwear comes out, the thought of laundry quickly devolves into a nightmare. This is why Karen Millen has teamed up with Clothes Doctor, whose specialist products care for your clothes and the environment, to make the prospect of having to wash wool clothes less daunting.
Discover how to wash wool of all types, including how to remove stains from wool, how to prevent knitwear from pilling, how to look after wool for sensitive skin, and how to repair wool clothes. If you follow all these steps, you will be able to protect wool clothes with ease.
Hand Washing Steps
The first thing when it comes to caring for our knitwear is knowing how to wash and protect wool. Most washing machines have a cold, woollen or delicates specific cycle, which is a perfectly fine option, but handwashing is always the best option when it comes to wool. It reduces the damage done to the fibres and helps the clothing keep its shape. Here is a step-by-step guide in handwashing your wool to keep it pristine.
Fill your sink or a bucket with warm (but not hot) water, and add 2-3 capfuls of detergent. Avoid alkaline detergents, as these can damage the natural fibres when you wash wool. We recommend using a gentle, pH neutral detergent.
Submerge your garment and avoid agitating the material too much. If you want to protect wool, you need to keep yourself from altering the shape of the individual fibres. It is also best to do this inside-out, as it is an essential part of how to prevent knitwear from pilling.
Leave the garment to soak for up to 30 minutes.
Once it has soaked, rinse it through with cold water to get rid of the detergent. Again, be careful not to stretch the yarn.
Use a towel to remove any excess water and leave it to dry flat.
As with any material, it is best to avoid washing wool too often. Continuous washing eventually causes strain on the fabric and it begins to stretch and bobble. To lengthen the time between washes, you can steam the garment to kill any bacteria.
How to Remove Stains from Wool
Sometimes it is not just odours that need to come out of fabrics. Stubborn stains can be a real issue and knowing how to remove stains from wool can be particularly difficult.
Generally, white or surgical spirit is a good, household way to remove stains from wool if you have no other more specific stain remover. Just like with detergents, however, make sure the pH isn’t too alkaline.
To remove stains from wool:
Gently scrape at the surface of the stain to pull any excess oil from the fibres.
Especially if it’s an oil or grease stain, blot with a lint-free cloth soaked with white or surgical spirit, or some other form of stain remover.
Rinse in tepid water. If the stain is still obvious, repeat the blotting process.
If the stain has gone, handwash the garment as normal.
How to Prevent Knitwear from Pilling
Pilling is where your woollen garments end up with tiny bobbles all over them. It is caused by the wool fibres rubbing against each other or other materials. It is most common in the arms of woollen jumpers, where the wearer is most active. When we buy our knitwear, we don’t want to think of it suddenly being covered in little balls of fabric, creating a bobbled effect. This is why we will walk you through how to prevent knitwear from pilling.
As mentioned above, washing your wool garments inside-out will help, as it keeps the visible part of the clothing from rubbing against other fabrics.
In addition to this, having separate washes for your wool is very useful, or even washing each individual garment separately. This reduces the chances of fabrics rubbing together even more. Handwashing will also help with this, as you have more control over the speed of how the fibres move together.
Unfortunately, we can’t always prevent knitwear from pilling. Should this happen, use a Cashmere Comb to gently pull these bobbles away from your clothes until they look like new again.
How to Repair Wool Clothes
Holes in wool will get bigger swiftly, so you first need to act as quickly as possible. You will need a Darning Needle Set and a Darning and Mending Support. You will also need to source some yarn in the colour you need to either blend into the fabric or tastefully contrast it, and some scissors to trim the yarn to size.
To fix your pieces, follow the below instructions:
First, place the darning and mending support under the fabric so the hole is centred.
Thread a darning needle with the yarn and sew a few running stitches into the undamaged fabric around the hole to secure it.
Stitch horizontally across the hole, keeping close to the circle of running stitches.
Next, weave your stitches perpendicular to the horizontal stitches, working the thread over and under to create a lattice effect that completely covers the hole.
Ensure that there is a long end on the thread when you are finished, so it can be woven into the repair, rather than secured with a knot. If you feel more comfortable with knotting it, make sure you do not pull on the thread, otherwise it may pucker up your hard work.
To finish this up, gently press to flatten the yarn and blend it into the surrounding fabric.
If you’d prefer to get your pieces professionally fixed, use a service such as Clothes Doctor to repair your pieces.
How to Store Wool
While it’s important to understand the process of repairing wool garments, it is best to avoid the need to do so for as long as possible.
Many holes in knitwear, outside of regular wear and tear, come from moths. In order to reduce the risk moths pose to your wool, you can use a Natural Fragrance bag. These are designed to both keep your clothes smelling fresh and to warn away the moths.
If you are not planning to wear your knitwear for a while, or you’ve just had laundry day, make sure to only hang them up when they are completely dry or the fibres may stretch. If you can, use a padded hanger to reduce the possibility of accidental tearing.
Wool for Sensitive Skin
It can be difficult to love knitwear if you have sensitive skin or are very aware of clothing textures. The good news is that you can find wool for sensitive skin, and keep it from being too itchy.
If you want wool for sensitive skin, we recommend investing in knitwear with finer fibres, such as cashmere or Merino wool. Unfortunately, these are also incredibly delicate. Wherever possible, hand wash these, and definitely do not tumble dry or dry clean. Try to press the water out rather than wringing it.
Look to a gentle detergent to softly wash your pieces and protect your skin.