How to Wash Wool Blankets

wool blankets
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Cleaning a wool blanket is more involved than the easy-to-care-for linens that typically grace beds these days. However, woolen blankets can keep you warm on a cold night, so they’re a valuable item to have stored away. Wool requires careful handling, so be incredibly gentle. In fact, only wash your wool blanket if it’s noticeably soiled or has a foul smell. If you're able to visit a dry cleaner, their expertise with wool items might prove invaluable to restoring the blanket to its former fresh, soft glory.

how to wash wool blankets
Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018
How to Wash Wool Blankets
Detergent Wool-safe or gentle
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Delicate or hand-wash
Drying Cycle Air-dry only

Project Metrics

Take great care in handling a dirty wool blanket. The fabric is liable to warp and never be the same again if mishandled.

Working time: 20 minutes, including air-drying time

Total time: 24 hours

Skill level: Intermediate

What You’ll Need

Supplies

  • Wool-safe detergent
  • Club soda or distilled vinegar and water

Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Washing machine

Instructions

  1. Shake out the blanket

    Before you take the step of washing a wool blanket, shake it out and hang it in a well-ventilated area. This step of shaking out and airing the blanket can go a long way in helping it to feel fresh again, and you might not have to resort to washing the blanket.

  2. Brush the blanket with a soft-bristled brush

    Lay the blanket down flat on a clean surface. Brush down the blanket, with each stroke going in the same direction, to get out dug-in dirt.

  3. Treat stains with club soda or a mild detergent or vinegar solution

    Stains are likely to set in wool blankets if not taken care of immediately. If there are any stains on your wool blanket, treat them with cold water and a mild detergent, club soda, or a vinegar solution made of 1/3 distilled white vinegar and 2/3 water. Soak the area and blot with a clean cloth.

  4. Soak the blanket in cold water

    Fill the washing machine with cold water and wool-safe detergent. Put the wool blanket in the washing machine, and let it soak for 15 minutes. You should not add warm water at any point at the process because it can shrink wool.

  5. Wash for 2 minutes

    Set the washing machine to the gentle cycle, and let it run for 2 minutes. Cancel the cycle, switch it to the rinse cycle, and let the rinse cycle complete.

  6. Roll up in towels

    Roll up the blanket in dry towels to absorb excess moisture. Don’t wring out the blankets, as it will ruin the shape of the wool.

  7. Air-dry wool blankets

Hang the blanket outside to allow them to air dry, but keep them out of direct sunlight. The sun can destroy the blanket’s softness. Avoid putting the wool blankets in the dryer, as it can crush the fibers and shrink the blanket.

Storing Wool Blankets

Protect the blankets while in storage from pests and dampness. Years ago, mothballs were used to keep insects from destroying the wool fibers, but this method left a lasting, hard-to-get-rid-of unpleasant scent that permeated the blanket and the whole room.

Instead, store wool blankets in a tightly sealed bin or heavy plastic bag. If pests are a concern in your area, you can add a few cedar chips or wood blocks, which are available at most general merchandise outlets. Cedarwood is a natural flying insect repellent and is a good alternative to mothballs.

Treating Stains on Wool blankets

Clean stains on wool blankets immediately so they don’t set into the fabric. Mix warm water and mild detergent and then soak the area of the stain. Use a clean cloth to blot the stain until it’s lifted, and repeat as needed.

Instead of a warm water and detergent solution, you can also use club soda or a vinegar and water solution.

Tips for Washing Wool Blankets

  • Clothing and blankets usually have an attached fabric care label which will denote the type of fabric used in the garment or linen and how to care for them. For best results, always follow the manufacturer's recommended care instructions.
  • If your washing machine has a dedicated wool cycle setting, use that in place of the "delicate" or "hand-wash" cycle to clean a wool blanket.
  • Dry-clean-only garments or linens should only be laundered by professional dry cleaners.