How to Wash Woolen Blankets

Compared to today's easy care fabrics, wool requires more than a little TLC

Antique bed with woolen blanket and pillow
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At one time, woolen blankets were found in every home, but today, the majority of our bed linens are woven of cotton or acrylic fibers which are fairly easy to care for and can be machine washed without worry.

But don't let that deter you from owning or inheriting pure wool blankets because they're not that hard to care for and they will keep you very warm on a cold night. Just a few tips on caring and storing is all you need to know to enjoy these warm covers.

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Garment Fabric Care Labels

Clothing and blankets usually have an attached fabric care label which will denote the type of fabrics present in the garment and how to care for them. For best results, always follow the manufacturer's recommended care instructions. Dry clean garments should only be laundered by professional dry cleaners. In the absence of washing instructions, follow these general guidelines for washing woolen items. 

Washing Woolen Blankets

The rule of thumb for all pure wool clothing and blankets is to always wash in cold water and gently wring or use a delicate (washer) cycle and low action washer spin. A handwash cycle is also a good choice. It's no longer necessary to handwash many woolen items, as most washers now have a delicate agitation cycle accompanied by a low spin.

Heat can and usually does shrink woolens, reducing them in size and ruining their appearance.

It can also affect how a garment drapes. Cold water and gentle washing will help keep your woolens in good condition. It is why a dryer, regardless if it has an enhanced gentle or a tumble dry setting, is not recommended.

Special Care Laundry Detergents

Although you can use regular laundry detergents for your woolen washing, specially formulated gentle detergents like Zero® by Woolite® Fabric Wash will further protect and keep your delicates and woolen blankets looking terrific.

I've used Zero for years and highly recommend it for all your woolens and delicate fabrics.

Drying Woolens

Hang wool blankets outside in summer and let them air dry, but if that's not possible, you could hang a slightly damp blanket over a door or clothes drying rack. A non-rusting shower or towel bar is also a good option. Woolen clothing such as sweaters should be laid flat to dry on a towel or drying rack to retain their shape. Short items could be hung.

Although hanging to dry is preferred, if you must dry in the machine, mothballs in some wool dryer balls into the dryer during the cycle. Soft natural fiber balls circulate with the dryer load to reduce drying time, eliminate static and soften the woolens.

Storing Wool Blankets

Since woolen blankets are usually stored when not required, it's important to protect them 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 whole room.

Today, you can easily store these blankets in a tightly-sealed bin or heavy plastic bag. If pests are a real concern in your area, you can add a few cedar chips which are available at most general merchandise outlets.

Cedar wood is a natural flying insect repellent and is a good alternative to moth balls.

Sensitive Skin Alert

Persons who have allergies or sensitive skin may find pure wool blankets or fabrics irritating on their skin.

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