Washing a wool fleece...

I've been waiting all summer for the temperatures to cool off enough so I could wash this dreamy raw Romney fleece I purchased back in May.  I got really lucky this time, that I didn't have to do much prep work of picking any straw or burrs out of the wool.

                                                                             Romney Ram

Washing wool is much easier than you'd think, it just takes a long time and smells up the house, causing the husband and children to run for the hills. (Personally, I love the smell of a fresh fleece and always start this project when I need a little time alone!)  

So here's how it goes...  First, run a tub of very hot water.  After you've run the water, add a couple liberal squirts of Dawn dishwashing soap, swishing it around to mix the soap in while trying to avoid the sudsy bubbles. (as you can see I failed the swishing part of the demo)  Next, carefully lay your fleece in the hot, soapy water.  Now this is very important ~ Do NOT agitate your fleece or you WILL felt your wool ~ trust me!  When the wool fibers are shocked by a sudden change in temperature along with movement, their microscopic scales open up and lock onto other neighboring fibers causing the artist heartbreak, tears, tantrums, and undoubtedly a few unseemly words!  Just let the wool soak up all the water and you'll be fine...

You don't want to let the water cool off too much or the lanolin will harden again, so after about 15 minutes, drain all the water out and rinse the tub.  Carefully pick up the fleece and set it in a colander to strain while you fill the tub up with hot water and soap again.  Gently lay the fleece back into the water and let soak for another 15 minutes.  You can keep doing this as many times as you need until your fleece is clean.  In the past, I've tried using laundry bags to wash the fleece, but found that the inside wool takes a lot longer to clean and laying the fleece out flat uses a lot less water!!

                                            This is after the second soaking...

Do a final rinsing soak with hot water and put it in a colander to let as much water drain out as possible. Spread the fleece on a towel and set it outside in the sun to dry!  

After two whole days rotating in the sun, it was finally ready!  I spent the afternoon in my outdoor studio carding some for the spinning wheel, and the rest I'm going to make into a batch of hand~dyed & felted soaps for the upcoming holiday fair...

Happy Washing~


  1. you've tempted me with the 'time alone' part. I may just have to wash my own fleece! Will any dish detergent work???

  2. From what I've read, Dawn is the best at cutting the grease, but I says that other brands will work too. You may just have to soak a few extra cycles.

  3. Now I know what to do with the wool I got from a sheering demo TWO YEARS AGO! Thanks!