How to Iron Wool Clothes Correctly

preparing to iron a wool sweater

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 - 45 mins
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Wool clothes are made from natural hair fibers with wonderful resilient qualities when knitted or woven into the fabric. The fibers from a goat, sheep, alpaca, or llama are composed of protein just like human hair. And, just like human hair, wool does not stand up well if excessively high heat is used when ironing.

When 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.

What You'll Need

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 mist sprayer (optional)
  • Drying rack (optional)

Materials

  • Distilled water
  • Emery board (optional)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)

Instructions

items for ironing wool
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  
  1. Arrange the Ironing Board

    Use a sturdy, padded ironing board when pressing wool. If you don't have an ironing board, you can create one by using a thick, white bath towel and a heat-resistant pad on a firm surface.

    setting up a makeshift ironing board
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  2. Gather Ironing Supplies

    • You'll have the best results by using a steam iron. This is an iron that has a well to hold water and vent holes that allow steam to escape from the iron and penetrate fabrics.
    • If you don't have a steam iron, you can use a spray bottle or mist sprayer of distilled water to add moisture to the process.
    • pressing cloth is essential to prevent shiny marks on wool and to help prevent scorching. This piece of fabric is used between the face of the iron and the item you are ironing as a protective shield.

    Where to Buy a Pressing Cloth

    A pressing cloth can be purchased at a fabric store or online. You may also use a white cotton dish towel, a piece of muslin, a white handkerchief, or any cotton fabric that will not transfer color or dye to your garment.

    ironing supplies
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  3. 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 does not have a wool setting, follow these temperature guidelines (148 C or 300 F) for wool.

    choosing the correct ironing temperature
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 
  4. Turn the Garment Inside Out

    Always turn your wool garment inside out and press on the wrong side of the fabric even when using a pressing cloth.

    turning the garment inside out prior to ironing
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  
  5. Place the Pressing Cloth

    Lay a dry pressing cloth over the wrinkled section that needs attention. The cloth is essential because, without one, you will have shiny marks or scorch marks left on the wool especially if the iron is too hot.

    positioning the pressing cloth
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  
  6. Apply Moist Heat to the Fabric

    Never iron wool with dry heat only because the fabric will easily scorch. Ironing on top of a dry pressing cloth, use steady pressure, and do not leave the iron in one spot for more than ten seconds. Keep moving the pressing cloth to other wrinkled areas as you iron the entire garment.

    If you don't have a steam iron, use one of these methods:

    • Dampen a clean white woven cotton towel or pressing cloth. Do not use a printed or colored towel because it might transfer dye to the wool due to the moisture and high heat.
    • Use a mist sprayer to very lightly spritz the wool fabric with cool water, then iron using a dry pressing cloth.
    steam coming out of the iron
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  
  7. Hang the Garment to Dry

    When you are finished, turn the freshly ironed garment right side out and hang it from a sturdy hanger or place flat on a clothes 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.

    allowing the wool garment to dry
    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Fix a Scorch Mark

Excessive heat can cause the surface of the wool to become shiny or scorched. The shiny marks develop because the wool fibers are fused together creating a sheen on the surface. Scorching is the next step that comes because the iron was so hot it began to burn the fibers. 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 clear water and then allow the garment to air-dry.

Buff it Away

If the wool fabric 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. Do not use this on dark-colored wool and be sure to test the solution on a hidden area (seam or hem) first to be sure there is no color change. Mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of 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.

Tips for 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 will not be crushed. For long-term storage, cover with a cotton bag to prevent dust from settling on the shoulders of the garment.