Caring for wool garments
Wool is a very popular fabric and has been worn by people for thousands of years. Wool is created by shearing the hair from a goat, sheep, llama, and other animals in the same family. This made wool a easy to find fabric for early people, and wool has continued to be used in fabrics and garments ever since. Wool is known for it’s ability to keep cold air off of the body and trap heat making it an ideal fabric for blankets and winter coats. For people in cold climates, it is very common to own a wool overcoat, petticoat, or trench coat. Wool is also commonly used to make suits, dress pants, sweaters, and to line boots, slippers, moccasins, as well as socks for cold weather, hiking, and outdoor activities.
High quality wool garments are expensive, but when treated with care they can last a lifetime. Wool is a natural fiber designed to protect goats, sheep, and llamas from the weather which is why it is such a good match for cold weather and outdoor garments. This property also causes wool to resist dirt, oil, and staining much better than softer fabrics like cotton, so wool clothing does not need to be washed after only a few uses like most materials. Dusting off wool, lint rolling, and spot cleaning using an appropriate method is needed for many people to keep their wool items in like new condition.
The biggest enemy of wool is moisture, which puzzles many people because the animals wool comes from have no problem living outdoors among moisture. The properties of wool when on the animals are a little bit different than when turned into a garment. Wool tends to shrink when it becomes wet. Wool fabric has unique properties, and when it becomes wet it goes through a process called felting. As wool grows on sheep and goats it gradually hardens using the same process that causes teeth and fingernails to become hard. While the wool grows on sheep, the wool fibers all grown in the same direction away from the sheep’s body. When the wool is sheared and turned into fabric, the direction of the fibers is no longer uniform, with fibers pointed in every direction. Washing wool in a traditional washer causes the fibers to lock together and makes the garment shrink. Because sheep’s wool fibers are all pointing in the same direction and the fibers don’t lock together, their wool can get wet without being damaged.
To reduce the chance of wool being damaged during washing wool should only be washed periodically when it’s necessary. For small items like wool sweaters or socks there are detergents made just for wool which will treat the fabric very gently. Wool has a lot of natural oils which give it its properties like warming and repelling dirt. A wool detergent won’t remove these oils and will maintain the integrity of the wool. Some washing machines do have wool or delicate settings, and hand washing is an option, but when dealing with an expensive wool item it is best to not leave anything to chance and to hire a professional laundry service like Wash Wizards. Dry cleaning is also an option, but it should generally be used for when the wool is significantly soiled.
Contact us if you’re not sure about the best care option for your wool items and we’ll explain our care process in detail, help you understand the best way to care for and store your wool items, and you may schedule a pickup for your garments. We have a 24 hour turnaround time so you can have your wool coat or suit ready just in time for special events or out of town trips.