Shall we log in on the best washing methods for fleece?
What soap/detergent do you use? I'm looking for something other than Dawn.
Has anyone tried some of the woolscours?
I use mesh baskets. After the wash bath, I gently spray down the fleece before the vinegar bath. I've had no problem with felting. I wash in the locks.
Wow, I just stick mine into hot soapy water in the laundry tub, or bath, depending on how much I want to wash and let it sit until cold, then rinse or rewash as necessary, then it gets thrown into spin the excess water out. And outside on a sheet to dry. It never felts. Only going from hot to cold water could make it felt, so I keep the temp the same as the previous water it came out of. I havent tried a woolscourer, have not needed to.
It depends on the dirtiness of the fleece as to what I use to wash it, and how I want it to end up. If really dirty I will use whatever washing powder/detergent/liquid I have on hand. If just mildly dirty, I use Lux soap flakes, or other wool wash. Sometimes, to keep some of the lanolin in and dirt out, I just soak it in cold water.
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No expert here, but when I first cleaned a fleece I was FLOORED at how much MUD came out of it!!!! I usually tear in in half and put one half in the bathtub and spray with the hand sprayer to get a lot of mud out. Then lift it out after it drains a bit and put on a sweater rack while I make the hot Dawn bath. After the bath, it gets rinsed with the sprayer again. Over and over until it is as clean as I want.
For small amounts, I put it in a mesh sweater bag and immerse in the kitchen sink, rinse with the kitchen sprayer, and hang above the sink to drip dry. I have not had any felting so far. Pretty good for a greenhorn.
I've heard of some people using their crock pots to clean fleece; the same pots they prepare food in. ewww! Pardon the pun.
PLEASE use separate crock pots.
Considering the dung, urine, chemicals (sheep dip kills parasites), and soil that is in the fleece, I don't want them in my crockery. There are micro-fissures in the glazes. I used to be a potter. This stuff isn't plastic or metal. The bacteria and chemicals that get trapped in there cannot come clean in the dishwasher.
If some insist they are fine, please don't serve others from that pot.
YUK! Not good. ALWAYS have a separate pot for washing and dyeing your wool - I wouldnt want to be the one to eat from that crockpot.
The first few fleece I purchased, I washed in the tub as many forums suggested (using Kookaburra) . I did this for the last time this past summer. I do not like the resulting misaligned fibers At.All.
I then tried SpinningJenny's methods of washing in small batches, placing the locks in plastic bins, tying them down and covering with tulle. This method works much better but I have limited plastic bins and the bins I do own left quite a bit of water in the bottom.
I have resorted to hand washing locks individually. Of course this method is time consuming but I am enjoying the process (so far) and I think the efforts are well worth the result: gorgeous, clean, well-aligned fibers and no felting at all.
I have had great results with both Kookaburra and Unicorn as a scour for greasy Ramboulliet and Cormo. I would be interested in trying alternative methods and scouring agents.
Destiknit the Podcast
do you have any pics of the washingmethode in plastic bins and the tulle. It sounds great.
I am at the moment washing through this gourges gray fleece, unbeliefable beautiful and soft, washing 80 gramm at a time, the fleece has 1890 gramm...
For me this is a long summertime activity. Earlier this week it was -20 deg F or around -30 deg C, Brrrrr.
I went to the Dollar Store and bought wire mesh baskets. You could also go to OfficeMax (or the like) and get stackable bins. I also bought buckets to stack my baskets about 2-3 high. Be sure to check size so they fit.
I take sections or locks and lay them flat in the baskets. The tule can be used to help layer: locks, tule, locks, etc. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I have a cat that likes playing with my tule, so I don't leave it around. If I'm in an industrious mood I stack properly. If I'm tired, I start stacking lazy. All that happens here is it makes it a bit tougher when it comes to combing. I stack the baskets and set them in the buckets for about 15 minutes. I use Kookaburra Wool Scour. Sometimes I use Dawn Dish Soap. (If you use your sink, be sure to disinfect afterward.)
How much in each basket? That depends on how tired I am. At the end of washing a fleece I put more in. I wouldn't fill the basket up. If I do smaller batches, the wool comes out cleaner. Just like the washing machine; if I cram it full, the clothes don't come as clean as if I divided it in 2 batches.
Depending on the fleece, I either rinse once or multiple times. A gentle fresh water rinse from the sink sprayer on the baskets doesn't hurt the wool. I've done fine and coarse and it all turns out fine.
I turn out the wool on Shamwow towels and wrap and step to squeeze. I then put them out on an outdoor screen to dry (southern exposure). I have quite a few birds outside during the summer (fewer insect pests - I don't need to spray my trees) and so put towels over the drying fleece so I don't need to re-wash.
I use a dog comb or flicker to remove the vm and weak tips and butts. I can either spin straight from the flicked locks, comb, or card. If I get behind, there are two mills here in MT that I trust to process my fleece properly, but that is expensive.
When I had a functioning greenhouse, I would put the dirty fleece in a bucket, add cold water and let it soak. Later, the manure water was used to water plants in the greenhouse. If the fleece was extra dirty like some that come from a farmer who is raising his sheep in feed lots, etc. then the soak would be done over a longer period of time with several water changes. Then the water was squeezed from the fleece. I would fill the washing machine with the hottest water available, add Wisk laundry detergent and agitate it a bit to mix it into the water, then I would put in the wet fleece if presoaked or dry fleece if it didn't need the presoaking. I would let if set in the machine until the water had cooled a lot. Then I would spin out the dirty water. If the fleece felt and looked alright then I would fill the machine with cool water. Sometimes I would leave the fleece in the machine after spinning the water out and let it fill with cold water. I would swish the fleece around with my hand to help with the rinsing. The extra fine fleece like Cormo and some of the others, I would take the wool from the machine to fill the rinse water. Cormo and Merino types often needed to be soaked a second time in the soap because of the extra grease,etc. There was little disturbance of the locks so that many were still intact. I have a triple pick that I use on the coarser wool but found that it was too rough on the Cormo, etc. I also have a Super Card which I use to card the wools and do the blending when I want to do wool and silk, or wool and hemp, for instance. I have also done wool and cotton. the Cormo wool blends beautifully with cotton. I have done the flick carding of locks and spun from the locks. I have also used the combs with good luck, especially on the longer wools. I had a machine that I used exclusively for washing wool. Hopes this helps. I enjoyed reading about the care that others give their wool while washing, etc. If the wool isn't prepared well, then it is very difficult to spin and get a good yarn. Felting is another situation and can use some of the lesser quality wool. To dry the wool, I had a screen door that I put up on boxes on top of a bed (unused at the time!!!) and would spread the wet wool on that. The spinning in the washer left the fleece nearly dry. My picker was nearby in case I wanted to use it to loosen the locks before putting them through the carder.
Hello, I am new to washing by the locks, but it was recommended to me as being the best way to do a fleece...
Please walk me through the best detergents... I have tried several and find that the fleeces have felt harsher to touch.
Please tell me more about the two wool scours that were mentioned...
So much to learn and I am having fun!!!
I did try the washer method, but it seems to mess the fibers around during the spin cycle... so I wish to try the lock washing method.
Mary Tucker, NY
I've scoured many a fleece, and no one way works for all types of fleece. I have used Unicorn scour, and it works very very well. I've also used Dawn, and it works well, too, but it has a lot of suds, which are difficult to rinse out. My preference is using the Unicorn scour with the hottest water that comes out of the tap. I put the fleece in a mesh bag and soak it for at least 20 minutes, but not so much that the water cools and the grease solidifies. I let the fleece drip for a while, and then I put it in my washer on spin. I have one of those front loading washers that spins very quickly, and that works well. it is then much easier to rinse out.
I found an article about dish washing soaps and wool washing. Most are surfactants - they need the suds to get at the grease on the surface. They don't work well for things under water. These work better if you want to felt.
I use Ivory, Palmolive, Dr. Bronner's, and Kookaburra Wool Scour. That means, whatever is on hand.
For the dish soaps, they may be alkaline. This doesn't bode well for protein fibers. However, I doubt you'll leave them in for more than 15-20 minutes before rinsing (with a bit of vinegar to reset the pH and kill the suds). In the final rinse, I use hair conditioner. It does some multi-duty things like condition the fiber, work as a spinning oil, cut the static... you get the picture.
The wool scour, mine can use warm water. If I have a greasy fleece, I use hot. I still rinse even though I don't need to.
I don't use the washer method. Mainly because I don't like cleaning out my washer afterward. My gray water pipes are not up to snuff and cannot handle the wool and grease (that is, they will clog and I'll have to call the drain cleaner guy and spend $$ to get snaked out). If you want to, feel free. Some day, I'll get my hands on an old fashioned roller washer.
The best way to learn is to take small amounts of wool (1-2 oz) and experiment.
Hi, has anyone else tried using cheap shampoo as wool wash? Someone in my guild suggested it, & I've been using it with pretty good results. ( VO5, White Rain, brands like that.) I've used it on dirty fleece (wool & alpaca), yarn, even finished knitted items. I wouldn't use the pricier salon brands for washing fleece! LT
A friend of mine uses it all the time with no ill effects.
Just make sure it's cost effective.
Ahh!!!! I wondered what the vinegar listed in your first post was for... just forgot to ask about that....
How much vinegar to water ? Apple Cider or White vinegar? Does it matter?
Any particular hair rinse preferred?
My water temp is set at 145... what is the best temp to use on fleeces?
My sister told me she thought about 185. We have been trying to remember out Gramma's steps as she did the wool processing and we were "too young" to help with more than carrying... it has been a good process for us to remember those times and it ties in with why we both like sheep now and want to do our own processing. Gramma did the dying too...we helped collect the plants and spices she wanted; when and the way she wanted...
I have Finns, Shetlands, Icelandic and Dorset sheep here... fleece grease varies by the breed and somewhat by the individual sheep. Learning to process it is taking me time as I want to do it well.
I tried the washer... It seems to take forever to get a fleece clean... maybe have to much in the load as per another post... so will try less.
I want to try the lock washing by hand on some of the finer fleeces.