Sometimes it’s the small things that make everything easier–and sometimes cheaper!
1) Water heater temps: when I am in wool washing mode, it’s set between 140 and 160 degrees. This helps to melt the lanolin and makes for a nice hot soak. Keep the water hot all the way through each stage (soaking, washing, rinsing) and you should be good to go. Just be sure to warn your household mates, so they don’t end up scalded.
2) Because of #1, you need gloves for handling anything in that scorching water. I have looked around and many gloves said to withstand hot water are expensive–on the order of $10 or much more. My partner in crime found these beauties for about $3 at the local hardware store. They work great even if they are a bit kitschy.
3) I use Dawn. Yep, I know there are other, perhaps better, cleaning agents out there. That some don’t really require much product or much rinsing; and that per ounce, it’s cheaper to go another route. But this one is pretty accessible and I have only been washing about 3-4 fleeces a year, so it makes my life easier. The trouble is that Dawn will kick up the suds! My solution: have a suds bowl on hand and pull off the really fluffly suds before dunking your wool. You can soak dirty dishes in the bowl while you wait for your sink to be freed up again. Problem solved.
4) If you, like me, have a DIY drying rack, it may sometimes sag under the weight of (too much) washed wool. My partner came to the rescue again here and added a simple solution. Since we just have a frame-less piece of screen clamped between the dining room table and the nearest windowsill, he added a support in the center: a piece of wood and two spring clamps. That was easy!
5) Thus far, once the now clean wool has dried, I store it in clean pillowcases–>second-hand pillowcases stored above floor level. I acquired about 6 more just the other day from a second-hand store in town for about $4. All you need to do is bring them home and run them them through your washing machine using that already jacked-up, super hot water and some laundry soap! These work well, as Jennifer Beamer of Expertly Dyed notes, because they allow the wool to breathe. Plus, you can label them and, once stuffed, they look like big ol’ stacks of yum. Cheap and easy–and sometimes colorful. Some folks swear by paper bags–apparently moths and critters can’t digest the cellulose; so, I’ll have to report back on my luck with the cotton sacks (aka pillowcases).
Have any tips or tricks to share? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear some wool hacks!