McMahan Cleaners would love to help you clean your woolen items. Please contact us for your wool dry cleaning services.
Wool is a breathable and odor-resistant fabric. It keeps you warm in winter and cool in the summer, and it is even a natural fire-retardant material.
But washing and storing wool might seem tricky. How do you wash wool without it shrinking? What can you do about moths when storing wool items after winter?
Proper wool care is easy if you know what to do. In this article, we’ll explain both how to wash your wool items and keep them safe after winter. Let’s go!
How to Wash Wool
Your detergent, as well as your machine, can wreak havoc on your woolen items. In the next two sections, we’ll show you what you need to know about proper wool care.
Enzymes and Their Effect on Wool
Have you ever tried to clean something made from wool in your washing machine? Often it comes out shrunken and full of holes. In a word: ruined.
This happens because wool is a protein-based fabric. It is made from sheep after all, unlike synthetic or plant-based materials.
Standard laundry detergent is bad for wool because it contains enzymes. They are biological molecules, and their job is to help or speed up chemical reactions.
Enzymes are great for making your clothes clean. The enzyme protease, for example, breaks down other proteins. You want it in your detergent to remove things like grass stains and food.
Unfortunately, though, protease cannot tell the difference between a grass stain and the proteins in your wool sweater. During the wash cycle, it gets to work on that fabric too, and you end up with all those holes.
Hey, My Sweater Shrunk!
Woolen clothes also seem to shrink when cleaned in a washing machine. But, in fact, they haven’t really shrunk.
It’s just that the heat and agitation from the washing machine get the fabric all matted together. The edges of the fabric latch onto one another, preventing the wool from returning to its original form.
You don’t want your favorite wool sweater to shrink or end up with holes. Before putting it away after the winter, it’s best to have it dry cleaned. That way you know it will be ready-to-go the next time you want to wear it.
After having it cleaned, how do you store your woolen items? Read on to find out!
Storage and Wool Care
Moths arrive just as you are putting your woolens away for next winter. These pests show up in May and stick around through October. Luckily, it takes only a few simple steps to keep your clothes safe.
Keeping the Moths Away
Not all moths eat wool. Only clothes moths and carpet beetles pose a danger to clothing.
What’s more, it’s not the adults who do the damage, but rather the larvae. They feed on any animal-based material, which may include wool, fur, shed pet-dander, or down.
You can’t see moth larvae. That means the only way to know you have a problem is observing holes in your clothing.
The key to keeping moths away is making sure your clothes are clean and stored away correctly.
Dry cleaning your woolen items is a sure-fire way to ensure accidentally acquired moth eggs are dead. Cleaning also gets rid of food stains. With ground in food particles gone, there’s no gnawing and no holes.
People have traditionally stored woolen items in cedar chests. However, insects can still get through any small cracks, and besides, the effects of cedar wear off over time.
Instead, it’s better to store these items in sealed airtight containers. If you like, you can add a lavender sachet, cedar panels, or even mothballs. Remember, though, mothballs are toxic and must be kept away from children and pets.
Following these simple steps will keep your woolen sweaters and blankets safe during the warmer months.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about proper wool care.