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I don’t know about you, but I have several wool blankets in my home that I use for just about anything – keeping me cozy while I watch tv, wrapping around my shoulders by the firepit, instant ground cover for picnics and outdoor concerts…the list goes on. The wonderful thing about wool blankets is their versatility, and the fact that they can last forever. That latter point, of course, depends on how well you care for your wool blankets.
So – how do you care for a wool blanket? How do you wash it? How do you store it? Is there a way to spot-treat stains? How do you dry it without shrinking? What if it’s very old, very soiled, or damaged in some way?
Fear not. Caring for wool blankets seems intimidating, but is actually rather easy. Follow along and I’ll walk you through the process of cleaning, drying, and storing these treasures so that you can count on many years of use.
Wool Blankets Can Last a Lifetime
I received a lovely blanket almost thirty years ago as a wedding gift. It was purchased in Ireland during a friend’s vacation. The quality of the yarn and pattern are beautiful. It’s a gift I treasure and use often, but with so much use, it had recently felt – and smelled! – less than fresh, shall we say.
Over the years, this blanket has been in heavy use during cold winters, as I or another family member snuggled under it while watching tv, reading, or napping.
Occasionally the family member has been one of our dogs (and we have had some shedders!).
Since we have moved so many times over the years, this blanket has also seen its share of storage in cardboard boxes, sometimes for months at a time.
Because of the age of the blanket – and the age of some of the stains – I’ve been more than a little nervous about tossing it in the washing machine, or even hand-washing it. With a little research, however, I was able to restore it to like-new condition with very little effort.
How to Wash a Wool Blanket
Before you begin, check any tags to see if your blanket is labeled dry-clean only. If so, you should take it to a reputable dry cleaner. There you go! Outside of paying for it (and remembering to pick it up), your work is done!
If there is no label, or you just want to save a few dollars, washing your blanket at home is the way to go.
de-pilling comb or tool, club soda, a gentle soap (I’m partial to Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castile Soap) or soap made specifically for wool, washing machine
Examine the blanket first for holes, tears, unraveling threads, or other repairs. Take care of these repairs before washing the blanket as the washing process could make them worse.
Pilling can be a problem for wool products, so go over the entire blanket with a de-pilling comb or tool. Try to keep your combing in the same direction each time so the weave of the blanket remains consistent.Depilling Tools
Over a sink or bathtub, slowly pour club soda on any stains until the fabric is saturated. The wool will reject the liquid at first, but will soon soak it in. Rub the fabric gently together to loosen the stain. Rinse under cold water until the stain is mostly gone. Repeat as necessary. (I was surprised how quickly the stains came out!)
Place the blanket in the washing machine and set it to soak in cold water for 15 minutes. This will further help with stain removal, and also help the wool soak in water before the washing process begins.
Run the washing machine on the delicate cycle (or wool cycle, if your washer has the option). Again, use cold water and gentle soap. Do not use the spin cycle.
When the cycle is complete, squeeze excess water out of the blanket, but do not twist. It helps to wrap a towel or two around the blanket to prevent accidentally twisting it.
How to Dry a Wool Blanket
Lay the blanket flat on top of several dry towels. Roll the towels and blanket together, so that the towels can soak up excess water from the blanket. Unroll gently.
Hang the blanket to dry. It may still be very wet and drippy, so the ideal arrangement is to place a clothes-drying rack in a bathtub so the water goes down the drain. The blanket can also be hung outside but do not hang it in direct sunlight as it may fade and damage the fibers. Wool dries surprisingly fast – my blanket dried overnight, indoors! Do not dry the blanket in the dryer, as that will damage the fibers and shrink the blanket.
Once your blanket is completely dry, rub your hands lightly over it’s entire surface to smooth any wrinkles and remove any loose bits of fluff – there may be a good handful! Your blanket is now soft, fresh, and ready to snuggle under once again!
How to Store a Wool Blanket
When you are not using your blanket, it’s best to store it in a clean, dark location that’s free of moisture. If you prefer, you can also place it inside of a plastic bag or tightly sealed plastic bin to prevent pest damage. Cedar wood blocks will also keep pests away.
During times of use, be sure to fold the blanket and set it somewhere it will not be sat on or otherwise crushed. I like to toss mine over the back of my living room chairs. Not only are they handy, but they add a pop of color and pattern to the room.
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Final Thoughts on How to Care for a Wool Blanket
A gentle but thorough cleaning did wonders for my thirty-year-old blanket, and I’m sure these steps will work for you as well. They can also be applied to sweaters, scarves, and other wool products – just be sure to check for that dry-clean-only label before you start. All wool items should dry flat and be reshaped while wet, so they don’t become distorted and stretched while drying.
If you were once hesitant to invest in good wool blankets, now you know that caring for them is not difficult to do – and you will enjoy knowing you’ve got a product that will last a lifetime!