While we’re discussing Autumn, BLANKETS! Can I we please discuss these little wonders? They shroud us when we’ve a broken heart, sick & cozy on those cold winter nights. We even clutch them as children during times of insecurity, hence the phrase ‘Security Blanket’.
But what happens when you wash them the standard way in your washing machine or dryer? I know of people who’ve invested in beautiful handwoven blankets and have put them in the washing machine, only for them to be destroyed. My Mum made sure I knew how to do this and understand treating different textiles, so I learned from her. There are Foxford blankets at home from the 1970’s and they still look fabulous, because they’ve been cared for. Primarily, is ALWAYS best to dry clean wool blankets but not everyone has the budget for it.
So, if sheep can stay out in the rain their whole lives, how come you can’t wash wool? Well, Sheep excrete waterproof oils from their skin which helps keep wool healthy and keep their bodies warm and dry. Once the wool has been removed from the animal, there is no more oil and water damages the fibers, breaking it down and perishing it. The trick is to expel water from the wool as quick as possible once you’ve washed it and dry it as quickly as possible.
The trick is to wash it in just warm water and a little baby shampoo or special wool detergent like Woolite . Don’t use a washing machine to wash because you could end up with a misshapen blanket, use a large basin or sink. Allow to soak for 5-10 minutes, drain and refill a couple more times to rinse out the detergent.
I recommend a spin cycle with NO use of water. Have a basin ready for when you lift the wool out from the water, pop the blanket into a mesh laundry bag. If the mesh bag is large, tie a knot halfway down so there’s not so much movement inside when it’s spinning. If you don’t have a mesh bag, use a pillow case with a knot tied at the end, this step is important.
What to avoid: Wringing, don’t twist the blanket to wring it, you’ll destroy the shape, use a basin to transport it from the sink to machine, you won’t need to wring it.
After you’re removed the blanket from the machine, it’s important to lay it flat so that air can circulate through it, you want to get rid of the moisture as soon as possible.
What to avoid: Try not to hang your blanket, this will stretch it and it’ll never look the same. A clothing airer like the one pictured below is ideal to drape it over, the flatter the position it dries in, the better shape it’ll stay for you.
Keep wool in an airy space, if your home is prone to moths, use little cedarwood blocks to keep them away. It’s also important to remember that being a natural fiber, coloured wool can fade if left in direct sunlight, I don’t recommend leaving bright coloured blankets on beds in sunny rooms, perhaps using a blanket box instead.