How To: Nature Washing Raw Fleece with Janneke Plomp

Many of us wash our fleeces with HOT soapy water . . . some of us wash using a cold water bath . . . and then there are some brave souls who save water, and wash in a single bucket, leaving the fleece for days, fermentation-style! (Some people call this Fermented Suint Method). I have seen these techniques compared online, but never in person. So when I saw Janneke Plomp (of Wolkol) posting pictures of her own “Nature Washing” on Facebook I couldn’t resist asking HOW? WHY?

And Janneke was kind enough to provide a guest post for today! Janneke is all the way in the Netherlands . . . but thanks to the internet, it’s like she’s right here with us!

Here’s Janneke Plomp’s “How To for Nature Washing”

I do love washing my raw sheep fleeces with rainwater and sunny weather.
In my garden I have a rain-barrel so I can catch the rain for fleece washing.

How do I do it?
First I skirt my raw sheep fleece.
I take a big plastic box with a cover and fill it with rainwater from my rain-barrel.
Put the raw wool into the water and close the box.
Let it sit for a few days up to a few weeks, depending on the temperature outside.
The higher the temperature, the faster the results.


Bacteria and algae will grow in the water and they eat the dirt out of the wool.
When the wool is really dirty, the water becomes almost black.

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When the alga forms on the water, you take the wool out and save the water.
Watch out! IT SMELLS BAD!!

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Take a new box, fill this with hot water and clear dish soap.
Put the wool in it and let it stay for half an hour.
Than take the wool out and rinse the wool (30 min in clean hot water).
Put it in a spinner and let it dry outside.

Now you can put more dirty wool into the box with the dirty water and use that again. Because there are many bacteria and algae already in this water, the next process will go much faster.

Why do I use this method?
I need much less water to get the fleece clean.
Rainwater is much softer than tapwater so the wool will be softer after washing.


Thanks so much for sharing your method with us, Janneke!

Janneke Plomp is the owner of Wolkol; for fleeces and advice, you can get in touch with her at

This entry was posted in DIY, fiber, fleece, instruction, money saving, raw wool, technique, tips. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How To: Nature Washing Raw Fleece with Janneke Plomp

  1. Debbie says:

    I have to try this with my pond water! It’s already got the algae and the nutrients. Now, if I could only find a plastic box with a lid that actually fits!


  2. lissymail says:

    Ha! Yes, I wonder about pond water–why not? I just love the idea of using less water–soooo much less water πŸ™‚


  3. Elizabeth Hubbard says:

    I need to try this again. The time I tried it the smell was so nauseating I gave up. It attracted a lot of flies too, so maybe not a good project during peak fly season. The results look amazing, so maybe worth another go.


  4. lissymail says:

    I can imagine that the smell would be pretty bad . . . but maybe the lid helps?? And a clothes pin for the nose πŸ™‚


  5. Pam Gramster says:

    Im sorry , this method would not be for me , the process is too long , and the wouldn’t want want the smell , I can get it done on the stove top in an hour …..almost dry out of the washers spin cycle . Total process 2 hours max ….. NOT discouraging any other persons methods ,it just not for me .


  6. lissymail says:

    It’s not for everyone, but I love the idea of using less water; I’m a HOT water person so far, but I am tempted to try this–at least once πŸ™‚


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  8. Sara says:

    I just washed my fleece, first one! what a load of work, and wast of water! Next time I will try this method


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  11. Jeanne says:

    First time washing fleece … someone gave me two bags of raw wool. What the heck worth a try; just wonder if the cold weather will hinder the process.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Liz says:

    I put my first batch in a rainwater, my question is, how long you put the second batch and how do you know the second batch is ready?


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