In order to retain and make it easier to find the valuable information shared by the knowledgeable and SO experienced women on this forum, I'm highjacking this thread from another forum and giving it a home of its own. This information was shared by Carol and is very much appreciated. WASHING FLEECE 101 As a general rule, I don't like commercially prepared roving. Here's why. Most of the mills, but not all, treat the wool with very harsh chemicals, to disolve the vm. What do you think that does to the wool? You get a technically perfect roving - with no vm - but the wool is nowhere near as soft as it was, and nothing we can do from then on will get it back to the softness it had to begin with. We used to have a small spinning group here that has slowly drifted apart. A bunch of those ladies flatly stated that they would only use the finest merino roving, with NO vm. Well, bless 'em, they have no idea at all what they are missing! I hand pick the worst of the vm from a raw fleece, then wash it. A lot of the vm left pops out while carding or can be easily hand picked. Any tiny bits left, and there usually is some of these, will turn at right angles to the spun yarn and again, can easily be picked out as you spin. Using wool combs instead of hand carders will get _all_ of the vm out. Now, on to washing the fleece. I was scared of felting my first fleece, so I understand how others feel about it. But fear not! This isn't rocket science! I had read a lot about washing fleece, and was instructed to use a thermometer to have the water at exactly X degrees, ta da, ta da, ta da. Then I was fortunate enough to see a fleece washing demo at a Pioneer Day Fair. The wool was put into a pot over an open fire out in the yard, with the water just barely steaming. Then fished out with a stick and put into another pot and rinsed, again with the water barely steaming. I asked what kind of soap was used to remove the lanolin. None, I was told, ammonina was the cleaning agent. Now I knew full well that those pioneer ladies didn't bebob down to the corner store and buy a plastic jug of ammonia, so I asked just how it was obtained. The lady doing the demo laughed and said it was nothing more than stale urine. I don't mind at all breaking tradition when it suits me, so I use Dawn dishwashing soap and a little ammonia from a plastic bottle to wash my raw fleece. We have an Aquastar on demand hot water heater and I get hot water at 140 degrees from my kitchen faucet. I fill my sink with this hot water, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Dawn, depending on the lanolin load of the fleece, and about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of ammonia. I push the wool, as much as the sink will hold, into the hot water(with a stick), cover it with a fiberglass tray to hold the heat in, and go away for half an hour. Then I come back and drain the water. Then I squeeze - DON'T WRING! - the soapy water out, and run another sinkful of water, a bit cooler this time and put the wool back in to rinse. I usually rinse three times, with water a little cooler each time. Then I put it into two pillowcases, TURN THE WATER TO THE WASHER OFF! and spin it to get as much water out as I can. You don't want the washer to blast the spinning fiber with water during the spinning process. Then I spread it on screens to dry. If you have a top loading washing machine, you can usually wash an entire well skirted fleece all at one time. Crank up your hot water heater so you can get 120 degree water, fill the tub, and TURN THE FAUCETS TO THE WASHER OFF! Add double the amount of Dawn and ammonia, swish the water to mix it in and put the fleece in it. TURN THE WASHER OFF - you don't want it to go thru the clothes cycles or you will end up with a mass of felt. Come back in half an hour or so and spin out the soapy water. Take the wool out! Then refill with water a little cooler than the wash water, and rinse. You don't hand wring or twist the wool - makes felt. You don't want the washer to agitate - makes felt. You don't want the washer to spray while in the spin cycle - makes felt. You don't want to leave the wool in the washer while it refills - makes felt. Again, this isn't rocket science. After the first wash, when you either hand squeeze the soapy water out or remove it from the washing machine, if your fingers feel the least bit sticky, you didn't get all the lanolin out first go around. No big deal - just repeat the washing process. If you use too much soap, you just have to rinse more times. In the last rinse, I use Downy fabric softener 'cause I really like the smell but some don't. Some folks also use a couple of glugs of vinegar in the final rinse, some don't. Be brave - try it both ways and see what you like best.