I decided to go ahead and try washing one of my fleeces. Having sheared my sheep right on the ground they live on, they had all kinds of little surprises tucked inside the strands of hair–everything from twigs, leaves and seeds to pieces of food that had gotten trapped. All of that debris was on top of the waxy lanolin that gives sheep their distinct smell. Lanolin is a great waterproofer and unfortunately, a wonderful dirt collector too.
I’d read a few methods and decided to give it a go with the washing machine. The fleece certainly could have fit in the tub but it sounded a lot more labor intensive and time consuming. The washing machine method was easy enough and I’m happy with the results.
Fill washing machine with hot water and mix in 1 cup liquid laundry detergent. Once full, submerge fleece and close the lid, allowing the fleece to soak for 45 minutes (make sure your washing machine is off–if it actually washes the wool via agitation, you’ll have an irreparably tangled mess).
Turn on the spin cycle. When the water is drained, remove the fleece, rinse the washing machine and repeat with another soaking cycle. Repeat as many times as needed to sufficiently remove the lanolin and dirt.
|Gross. Needs a few more cycles.|
While waiting for the washer to refill with hot water, “groom” the fleece to check again for debris such as twigs, leaves, seeds, etc.
For the last soak, fill the washer with hot water and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Spin to remove water and place on a towel to air dry.