Fabrics that echo the landscapes of their origin

How To: Washing Natural Wool Garments

How To: Washing Natural Wool Garments

Your wool garment need not and should not be washed after every wear. 

Different types of garments will require washing more often, where others will require less washing. For example, you may need to wash socks more often, but a shawl or sweater may only need a wash as little as every 1-2 years. 

Wool is naturally absorbent and breathable  - this makes it more odour resistant than other fibres. A simple airing outside is sometimes all you need to freshen up your garment.

a wool handknit shawl hangs on a fence in a forest in germany

A handknit shawl, designed by Kusum Thakur of kullvi whims

In this journal, we share how to take care of your woollens, from removing stains to washing. We make sure you have the skills to wash your woollens with confidence, and to protect your garment from felting or shrinking in the wash.

The yarn in RANI & REINE garments is minimally processed. This means that we do as little to it as possible before spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving; it only gets washed and carded. Carding is the only process done by a machine. The machine combs the fibres, making it easier to spin into yarn.

raw sheep's wool in himachal pradesh

Purchasing raw wool in the Miyar Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.

LOCAL INDIGENOUS WOOL

The sheep that produce the wool we use in our garments and homewares graze in the mountains surrounding the Kullu Valley where our artisan partners live, by families and semi nomadic shepherds that belong to traditional pastoralist communities. 

We create our textiles out of wool from two different breeds of sheep: 

1. Gaddi, a local Himalayan Desi sheep breed. Desi means local or indigenous to India. We use this longer fibre wool in garments that need to be more durable, like socks and legwarmers. 

and

2. Lahauli: Gaddi sheep that have been crossbred with fine wool sheep breeds such as merino and rambouillet. We use this shorter and softer fibre for our next-to-skin garments.

The collaboration between Rani & Reine and Kullvi WHIMS aims to bolster the rebuilding of rural networks between the local shepherd communities and the village artisans in the Kullu Valley, putting local indigenous wool back in the spotlight, and building a thriving rural natural fibre and craft economy. 

sheep heading to the hills for grazing in Himachal Pradesh India

Lahauli sheep on their way up into the hills to graze for the day in the Miyar Valley, Himachal Pradesh. April 2022.

We specifically do not use chemicals to make our wool machine washable. As convenient as machine-washable woollens are, this washability is usually achieved through a chemical process, and we feel that many of the unique characteristics of natural wool are lost.

We prefer the texture, drape and structure of minimally processed wool, as well as its excellent ability to keep you warm. 

Please do not put your RANI & REINE woolens into the washing machine. If they do need a wash, read on: 

a closeup of a triangle shawl handknit with wool from india

Our triangle shawl in off white, handknit using yarn spun on a takhli spindle in naggar, himachal pradesh.

STAINS

Sometimes all you need is a quick spot wash. 

Dab the stain with a clean cloth soaked in cool water, repeat as necessary and then lay flat to dry. 

Be careful not to scrub, as it can felt the fibres together.

washing wool in himachal pradesh india

Indira lifts some handspun yarn out a tub of water. Naggar, March 2022.

WHEN IT’S TIME FOR YOUR GARMENT TO HAVE A BATH, FOLLOW THE GUIDE BELOW:

HOW TO WASH YOUR WOOLLENS

UNDYED TEXTILES

Fill a tub with warm water. The garment should have enough space to float. Add a no-rinse wool wash or pH neutral eco detergent, stirring without creating suds. You can also wash without a detergent. Gently submerge the garment in the water to soak. For larger items, the bathtub works great. Let the garment soak for 20 minutes.

Warm water allows the wool fibres to open up and release any dirt and dust that have accumulated in your garment.

DO NOT SWISH, AGITATE, OR WRING!! 

If rinsing is required: 

  • Gently lift your garment out of the tub, and gently squeeze out excess water, without wringing. 
  • Refill the tub with clean water, matching the water temperature of the previous soak.
  • Put your garment back in the tub for a second soak. 
  • Repeat the process as needed, until the water is clear. It can take 4-5 rounds for a heavily soiled garment.

Gently remove your garment from the tub. Lay flat on a clean dry towel, roll it up, and then press down and squeeze to remove excess water.

Lay the garment out flat on a clean dry towel, being careful not to stretch it out of shape. Reshape your garment. Leave it to air dry. 

Do not hang to dry. Do not iron.

naturally dyed wool legwarmers from himachal pradesh india

Our naturally dyed Geo Leg Warmers. Dyed with onion skins and walnut shells. 

NATURALLY DYED GARMENTS

Naturally dyed products should be washed in COOL water.

To preserve the natural dye colours for longer, try not using a detergent.

Use the same method as above for undyed garments, but make sure not to leave it to soak for too long. (However, you can safely leave an undyed garment to soak overnight)

You can expect some dye run off, depending on the design and colour used, which will slowly dissipate with each wash.

If you'd like to see how we wash a pair of our naturally dyed leg warmers, check out our How  To video on YouTube.

naturally dyed wool dyed with madder root hangs to dry in himachal pradesh india

Wool dyed with madder root hangs to dry in Naggar, Himachal Pradesh, India, March 2022

STORAGE

Storage is just as important as washing.

Store your clean and dry woolens in air tight containers over the summer months to keep them free from dust, moths and other wool-loving insects.

Store them out of direct sunlight. Bring them out and give them an airing (preferably outside) so the fibres can breathe and expand again when sweater weather arrives, particularly if you have kept them in a vacuum sealed bag.

You can also tuck naturally fragrant products such as vetiver, lavender and cedar in with your woolens, all of which are moth repellent.

If you'd like more information about caring for your woollens, including what to do about pilling, check out our care page .

You can also reach us through our contact page.

a stack of handspun and handknit woollens

Handspun and handknit legwarmers and hats from naggar, himachal pradesh

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