Washing/cleaning fleece?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by AnnaS, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Verndale MN
    Can anyone tell me how to wash a fleece without a washing machine? How do I save the lanolin? And should I pick out the bits o' hay before washing or after?

    My poor sheep... not only did he have me sitting on him for an hour while I learned how to shear, all four goats had to fight him once he was sheared. They took one look at how small he was under that fleece, and decided he shouldn't be #1 in the herd.
  2. MoBarger

    MoBarger Goat's Milk soap for sale

    Mar 5, 2003
    upstate NY
    Instructions for Home Scouring

    Skirt your fleeces by removing the belly wool, any manure tags, mtts, burrs and chaffy wool. It helps if you attempt to pull the fleece apart, or pick it somewhat, before washing. Smaller pieces makes all the steps easier. (If you are close, you can get help from the mill: one of the machines can do this job.) Fill a tub with hot water (130º F or more - hotter than your hands can stand - as hot as your hot water heater can produce safely; 150º is great). Add about 500ml of detergent (not soap) to the water for each fleece (10-15lbs). (At the mill "Joy" and "Ivory" are used.) Do not use detergents that contain phosphates. Add as much fiber as will stay submerged. Let soak. Do not agitate. Rinse at least twice using water of approximately the same temperature. Squeeze or wring the fibers to remove the water. Dry the fibers on screens or racks. Pick if you wish during or after drying. You know if the dryed wool is washed enough if after handling it for some time and pressing your fingertips together, you do not feel your skin sticking. For greasy wools, such as Merino, Rambouillet, Columbia, etc., you may have to wash several times. It is not uncommon to wash three times for some of these fleeces.

    If you are doing seveal loads, notice the amount of suds in the first wash. You want a few soap bubbles in the water, but not too much. Adjust amount of detergent based on the amount of grease in your particular fleece. Adding ammonia, about a cup, is acceptable.

    You can use the above process in a washing machine and get great results. Fill the washer with the water, add detergent, stir, add wool until you can not push any more in. Let sit for 30 minutes or more. Drain water (never agitate). As the tub spins, direct hot water on the spinning wool. If you can observe the water draining, continue applying water until it is clear. (At the mill, a short hose is hooked to the hot water tap and this is sprayed on the wool. Since you have to do this with the top open, be careful. Don't drop the hose in.) Your wool will dry much faster if you can use your washing machine as a centrifuge.

    From http://www.fingerlakes-yarns.com/customwork.html

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    May 11, 2002
    Now in Virginia
    It is best to pick out the VM before you wash the fleece. Also remove belly, and breeching wool, as this normally is course and has guard hairs. Pick out second cuts.

    Pull small batches off your main fleece, enough to fit in your kitchen sink or in 5 gallon buckets outside. Fill part way with hot water, use a product like Eucalan, then gently put your wool in it. Just let it sit until the water is slightly warm (can take a few hours).

    Gentle pull the fleece out of the water and let it drain on some towels. Drain the water out of the sink or bucket.
    There is no need to rinse when using Eucalan Wool Wash.

    If the fleece is still dirty, do this as many times as needed, until happy with the results.
    Dry on a flat clean surface.

    Make sure you do not wring or squeeze the fleece as this can result in matting.

    Have fun!!