Cleaning Wool

Who’s enjoying this second spring we seem to have been gifted? I know I certainly am, the additional rains are allowing me to do chores besides watering the garden and flower beds. Lukes’s sister over at the Fiesty Farms sheared her sheep herd last week which led to this spinning fool getting two bags full of dirty fleece! Now to determine all the possibilities I now have. I can blend fiber, I can felt and I can spin for days! yucky bag

But first, to the fun task of washing the fleece. Yuck!

There are natural oils in the fleece called lanolin that we want to strip away from the fiber as the oils can cause the finished product to let off unpleasant aromas. You will want to use two totes in this process so that you can easily dump the water out in your yard after use. (I have a septic system and did not want to introduce the oils into my drain, you might find it easier to use a kitchen sink or tub.)


2 Large totes

Dawn dish soap



For the first rinse, you will want to fill your tote 3/4 full with HOT water so that all your wool will be immersed. Add Dawn dish soap to your mix and a splash of bleach (most people frown on using bleach in their wash; the hot water will render the active ingredient useless in a short amount of time). Leave the wool to soak for 15-20 minutes.

Your second tote should have the hot water and soap mix as well but this time without the bleach. When your timer goes off gently pull your wool out of the first tote and hover over the tote while most of the water drips down. You can squeeze the wool but do not wring it. Now settle the wool into the second tote by pressing it down under the water and again allow to soak for another 15-20 minutes.

While your wool soaks in the second tote go ahead and empty the first tote this time refilling with HOTTER water and 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. Like the soap wash, you will again do this dip twice for about 15 minutes. Once you have soaked the wool four times total it is now time to lay it out in the sun on a towel to dry! Every few hours you will need to switch out the towels that are under the wool as they become drenched with the runoff. This process of drying can take up to three days so when I go to switch towels is a top layer is completely dry I will pull off the dry section to use right away while the rest of the wool continues to dry. Try and keep the wool in a very sunny location as the natural UV light will gently continue to whiten your wool.

Sun drying

You can see some of the dry bits I pulled in the image below. You can see how this wool is already starting to slightly felt as I played with it a little too much while admiring the sheep’s natural crimp, the spinner in me is doing a happy little cha cha! Stay tuned for the multiple uses I get out of this bundle!


Do you prefer to batt up your wool and spin it or do you have another talent like felting that you use your sheep’s wool for?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. ruthsoaper says:

    This is something I would like to try someday. Thanks for the great info.


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