Hint: it’s easier than you think!
When my daughter was a couple months old, I sent this baby photo to a friend and mother of two small kids of her own. She replied “you’re hand washing your baby clothes??” I felt a little embarrassed at first. I wasn’t trying to be an overachieving super-mom (this was hardly my experience). I just had these lovely wool clothes that I wanted to care for. But then I thought about it and realized that my friend and I both shared an incorrect notion of the work involved in hand-washing wool clothes: it’s actually no work at all!
So here is a how-to guide to washing wool clothes, with some pictures to prove just how simple it is.
Step 0: do the clothes really need to be washed? I know, what a crazy question. But wool really does self-clean. Even clothes that have been pee’d on can just air dry and be fine to continue to wear. Give it a sniff. Inspect the clothes — is that poop you see, there? Great, then let’s wash it.
Step 1: gather your wool wash (I use Eucalan unscented wool wash—which has some lanolin in it to condition the wool; and doesn’t need to be rinsed), a large bowl (a bath tub also works fine), and your dirty wool clothes.
Step 2: place a little bit of wool wash in the bowl (I eyeball it — about a teaspoon)
Step 3: add cold water (sometimes I make it lukewarm when I don’t want to dip my hand in cold water), then the clothes.
Step 4: give the clothes a good shake. Maybe rub the fabric together in that poopy spot. Then let sit until you remember to remove the clothes. Eucalan says 15 minutes is all you need. I regularly forget and then remove the clothes hours later (sometimes the next day!). But I’ve never noticed a difference for the clothes—they’re always clean and undamaged.
Step 5: gently wring out the clothes and set out to dry on a towel. Then forget about them again until they’re dry. (Tip: sometimes it helps to rotate the clothes so that they are lying on a dry spot of the towel. Resist the temptation to put them on a heater — that will damage the wool.)
Active time is probably 5 minutes tops. But you do have to wait a day or two for the clothes to fully dry.