Warm, snuggly, and durable, wool clothes are made from natural hair fibers with wonderful resilient qualities when knitted or woven into fabric. These fibers, which come from goats, sheep, alpacas, or llamas, are composed of protein just like human hair. And, just like human hair, wool needs to be treated with special care—especially when ironing, as it doesn't do well under excessively high heat.
How Often to Iron Wool Clothes
If a wool garment is only lightly rumpled and wrinkled, it can often be revived with steam alone. If you don't have a clothes steamer, simply hanging the garment on a sturdy hanger in a humid environment like a steamy bathroom may be enough. The heat and moisture will help the fibers relax and release the wrinkles. However, if wool clothes have deep creases, ironing is called for, but it must be done correctly.
Equipment / Tools
- Steam iron
- Padded ironing board
- Pressing cloth, mesh, or another piece of white cotton fabric
- Sturdy hanger
- White bath towel (optional)
- Spray bottle or mister (optional)
- Drying rack (optional)
- Distilled water
- Emery board (optional)
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
- Distilled white vinegar (optional)
Arrange the Ironing Board
Use a sturdy, padded ironing board when pressing wool.
Gather Ironing Supplies
You'll have the best results by using a steam iron. It has a well to hold water and vent holes that allow steam to escape from the iron and penetrate fabrics.
Use a pressing cloth when ironing to prevent shiny marks and scorching on the wool. This piece of fabric is used as a protective shield between the face of the iron and the item you're ironing. A pressing cloth can be purchased at a fabric store or online.
Choose the Iron Setting and Temperature
When you're ready to begin, put the iron's setting on "wool," and make certain that you have water in the steam iron well. If your iron doesn't have a wool setting, select the right iron temperature for wool (300 degrees).
Turn the Garment Inside Out
Always turn your wool garment inside out, and press on the wrong (opposite) side of the fabric, even when using a pressing cloth.
Place the Pressing Cloth
Lay a dry pressing cloth over the wrinkled section that needs attention.
Apply Moist Heat to the Fabric
Never iron wool with dry heat only because the fabric will easily scorch, so make sure the steam setting is on. Iron on top of the dry pressing cloth, use steady pressure, and don't leave the iron in one spot for more than 10 seconds. Keep moving the pressing cloth to other wrinkled areas as you iron the entire garment.
Hang the Garment to Dry
When you're finished, turn the freshly ironed garment right side out. Hang it from a sturdy hanger, or place it flat on a drying rack to dry completely before wearing. This will help prevent deep wrinkles that tend to form in damp wool that's worn before drying.
How to Fix a Scorch Mark
Excessive heat can cause the surface of the wool to become shiny or scorched. First, shiny marks develop because the wool fibers are fused together, creating a sheen on the surface. Scorching is the next, more damaging step, caused by a too-hot iron that began to burn the fibers. But not to worry: There are three ways to fix a scorch mark.
Sponge With Vinegar
If you forgot to use a pressing cloth and your wool fabric has shiny marks, try sponging white distilled vinegar onto the affected area on the surface of the garment to help lift the fibers. After sponging, rinse the area thoroughly by blotting with a cloth dipped in water, and then allow the garment to air-dry.
Buff It Away
If the wool is slightly scorched, stop ironing, and allow the fabric to dry completely. Start by lightly rubbing the scorched area with an emery board to buff away the burned ends of the wool.
Dilute and Remove
For light-colored wool, a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and water may help remove scorching. Don't use this on dark-colored wool, however, and be sure to test the solution on a hidden area, like a seam or hem, first to be sure there's no color change. Mix 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup water. Use a clean white cloth to gently scrub the area. Rinse well by blotting with clear water. Allow the fabric to air-dry completely, and repeat if needed.
Storing Ironed Wool Clothes
Allow freshly ironed wool clothes to dry completely before storing to prevent problems with mildew. Hang in a closet with plenty of room for air circulation so the clothing won't be crushed. For long-term storage, cover with a cotton bag to prevent dust from settling on the shoulders of the garment.
Tips for Ironing Wool Clothes
- If you don't have an ironing board, there are several ironing board alternatives, such as using a thick white bath towel and a heat-resistant pad on a firm surface.
- If you have a dry iron (without a steam feature), use a spray bottle or mister filled with distilled water to add moisture to the process. Lightly spritz the wool with cool water, and then iron using a dry pressing cloth.
- Another alternative for a steam iron is to use a damp pressing cloth and proceed as normal with the dry iron. Avoid a printed or colored towel because it might transfer dye to the wool due to the moisture and high heat.
- If you don't have a pressing cloth, use a white cotton dish towel, a piece of muslin, or a white handkerchief.