The best solution to avoiding shrinkage is prevention because there is unfortunately no cure. Have a dedicated wool laundry basket and train everyone in your household to only put their wool garments there. Follow the washing and care instructions on the manufacturer's label for best results and if you're not sure how to properly wash wool please ask. If you do use your wool machine cycle ensure you use cold water and a gentle wool shampoo. If you use a warm water wool wash the machine will still rinse in cold which will shock the fibres and cause them to seize up. Wool cycles vary greatly so always use with caution, if you have any issues with the garment due to the washing, unfortunately we can not exchange/replace as there are too many variables to consider. Only use a SLOW spin (400 max with NO rinse!) or press out moisture in a towel and reshape the garment before drying flat. We do not sell Superwash Merino wool which is a chemical treatment. Shrinking/felting a wool garment occurs when the item has been washed incorrectly. It is not indicative of a fault in the garment and there is no exchange/refunds after a garment has been washed.
If your wool garment has noticeably shrunk, you can try following the steps below:
1. Fill your sink with lukewarm water
2. Add 200-300 ml of natural hair conditioner
3. Add your wool and gently stretch it back to the right size/shape
4. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 4 litres of water in a large bowl
5. Add your wool to the vinegar solution and swish gently to remove the conditioner
6. Hand wash your wool using your usual wool wash routine
• Soaking the cover/garment for a long time and then washing with too much agitation (soaking relaxes the wool fibres, opening out the shafts on the fibre which then if agitated can cause them to grip each other and felt)
• Changing the temperature of the water while washing, i.e. rinsing in a different temperature water
• Using a non wool wash detergent or conventional wool wash that contains amino acids/enzymes which break down protein fibres
• Spinning the garment in the washing machine to high
• Using very cold or very hot water. Lukewarm is best.
• Wringing the fibres to remove water
• Drying a wool garment over or too close to a heater/fire
To maintain a woollen garment’s shape, you should always reshape the garment after washing - i.e pull it out to shape while it’s still wet from washing, and then lay flat to dry. It is normal for the wool to fluff up a bit on the first wash and this helps the fibres do their job better too.
We highly recommend SOAK wash - non-rinse natural handwashing made especially for delicate woollens. Submerge, squeeze and soak garments in a lukewarm bucket of water with SOAK for 15 minutes, squeeze out excess moisture (do not wring), press in a towel or SLOW spin and reshape and dry flat. Do not rinse. Your garments are left clean and smelling as fresh as a daisy.
Ox-gall stain remover is simply amazing and works really well on dry organic stains. Apply the ox gall soap quite thickly to the dry garment, massage into the stained area and leave for half an hour or so. Then you can hand wash it out. I have removed really stubborn ground-in stains using this stain remover, it’s rather remarkable! Another option you could try is a decorative patch stitched beautifully over the patch as a feature. Be wary of trying to dye a garment in order to cover a stain. Unless you were to use a very strong synthetic dark dye like a dylon (which we wouldn’t recommend), you will find that dyeing the garment will only further draw attention to the stain, because the stain will take in the dye differently to the rest of the fabric - usually making it darker. Also try our Spray on Stain Remover from Sonett which is also good for stains on delicate fabrics like wool and silk.
Shedding is something that can happen initially with good quality organic wool fleece but it usually doesn’t persist. The formation of lint on fleece articles that are manufactured from wool from certified organic sheep and have no chemical finish cannot be completely avoided. With conventional products, the ends of the fibres are treated with special film-building substances such as acrylic or vinyl polymers to reduce the formation of lint and little knots (anti-pilling finishes). For ecological reasons, we do not stock products that these finishes. It is inevitable that the care of organic wool fabrics also includes the occasional removal of lint.
Washing does not always help to get rid of the lint. If shedding persists, you can gently rub the item down with a rough towel to remove any loose fluffy layer. Follow it up with another gentle hand wash and that should do the trick. You can also try placing the item in the dryer at a cold temperature. If you have a lot of wool garments we highly recommend the Classic 50 Fabric Shaver which is an electrical device that is very effective at removing pills on your clothing which makes them look as good as new.
Because they have no synthetic fibres at all, all wool socks will eventually wear a hole in the spot your walk on the hardest. How you walk and how hard you are on your feet will determine how long they last. What’s great is that quality all-wool socks respond really well to darning, which reinforces the area that is wearing through and can make them last and last. Most socks use nylon, but we like to stock only pure natural fibres that are completely biodegradable. They will last well if looked after and darned when needed.
We have put together a complete darning kit and darning mushrooms for this purpose because that’s the beauty of all our products, with a little care they will last the test of time without being detrimental to the environment in their material use and production. Here's more darning and mending inspiration from us.
Try to deal with snags straight away to avoid them catching and pulling further. The best way to deal with a snag is to try to ease the thread back in as much as possible by stretching the fabric in all directions around the pulled stitch which helps it get back into position into the fabric. When you’ve done all that you can with that, you can just poke the thread through with a chopstick to the back of the fabric or in between any layers of fabric. Knitted fabric is usually only prone to snagging when new because the yarn is all newly knitted and still smooth and so the fabric can be prone to pulls until they stitches have been set – usually by washing/steaming. A small snag when dealt with in the manner above will stop it being pulled further and the thread breaking which can then cause a hole to form. For fine fabric pulls we recommend the Snag Repair Needle. But for new knitwear - if you've managed to get it caught and a long thread has been pulled out, follow this tutorial to get that thread back in order. It's so worth the short amount of time it takes to do so.
When the weather starts to warm up and your wool clothing isn't getting as much frequent use it's time to implement your moth safety strategy.
Knowing when they are starting to become active again will tell you when to start putting away less used items. We put moth traps out from the beginning of Spring and when we see the moths are active then we’ll ensure that any wool clothing not being used frequently gets dealt with to prevent damage.
Before putting clothes in storage do the following:
Wash all woollens well, treating any stains etc (moths particularly love food spilt and body oils on clothing), if you're a real wool fanatic then give them a wool conditioning treatment to restore any lost lanolin and buzz off any pills. We also like to mend any holes prior to storing so that come Autumn, everything is ready to wear.
Yes! Once they are clean and dry put your woollens in clean paper/plastic freezer bag and place in freezer (-18 degrees or less) for 2 weeks. The freezing kills any moth larvae that may have already been deposited on the garments – if you pack items away that have eggs on them and put them in a dark, undisturbed place with their favourite food, they will hatch and have a feast!
After you've washed, dried and frozen your woollens, remove them from the freezer bag and place inside a cotton storage case like our Northern Olive Organic Cotton canvas cubes or a pillowcase (tight/close weave like poplin etc), neatly folded, with a cedar block or cedar sachet. Zip up or wrap the pillowcase around the garment or tightly roll up the end up to make sure nothing can get inside.
Besides storing your woollens properly, other general precautions include taking outside items hanging up inside your wardrobe and shaking them out once a month, moths dislike being disturbed. Vacuum regularly around the bottom and edges of wardrobes and any shelves. If you add anything to the storage cases that hasn't been treated in this manner you might contaminate the other pieces so take care to maintain this best practice.