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I washed up some fleece for the first time yesterday. All in all I think it went pretty well. I used the "small amounts in a stock pot" method shown in Three Bags Full.

For first efforts I think it worked out pretty well. I used Dawn soap, though, and I wonder if it was a little harsh. Is it too alkaline? What do you all use to wash fleece with? Three Bags Full talked about using detergent but staying a way from a couple brands as they felt the wool.

I sorted out the best of the locks of the same length and want to try washing some in the method shown in Three Bags Full where she washes the locks laying all flat in a dish towel. It would be fun to try spinning from the locks and I want to try that method to see what I will learn.

When I was done I put a splash of vinegar in the last rinse water.

Does your choice in what to use to wash with depend at all on whether or not you are planning to dye it?

Here are a couple before and after pictures. You can see some bits of chaff in the "after" picture but I think they will card out. This is Corriedale x Polypay. I have a LOT of the fleece left but I wanted to practice on this one before moving on to my much nicer fleeces.
 

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I use orvus -its what you use on the live sheep it you are washing them for show. you have to buy in a 5 lb tub for about $30 and it lasts forever (as in 7+ years and going). I've washed an average of 4 fleeces a year and at least 4 ewes/lambs and I still have 2/3 full bucket. We called it the snot soap as kids because it is a little less than liquid when cool and at the right temperature it is just like snot. Anyway it is a lot less harsh than dawn (which isn't all that harsh) and it more cost effective since it goes and goes, but with this soap less is more. If you get too much soap it something it takes forever to rinse it out.
 

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there is some controversy regarding "Dawn" - original Dawn, new Dawn, domestically available Dawn, internationally available dawn, Old Dawn - :shrug:

much of it has to do with the removal of phosphates (for environmental reasons) and replacing the phosphates with "protein-eating enzymes" that might damage fleece (because it is made of protein.)

Personally, I think Dawn is too harsh and leaves the fleece feeling dry and dead. So, for the same reasons I don't use Dawn on my head, I don't use Dawn on my fleece. YMMV. Adding the splash of vinegar helps return the pH of the fleece back to where it is supposed to be (whatever that is. :teehee:)

I DO use Suave Clarifying Shampoo - - 92¢ a 15 ounce bottle when it is on sale :teehee: - and that is both FAR cheaper than Dawn or any other scouring product on the market and better for the "hand" of the fiber after it is washed.

Dawn will get it clean - no doubt about that -but there is more to washing wool than getting it clean.

And no, I use the same product to wash/scour wool with whether I will be dyeing it or leaving it naturally colored.

I have used Orvus - but I don't always get to the Farm store to buy it (40 miles one way) - and when I want to wash fleece - I want to wash it NOW. And I ALWAYS have a supply of Suave Clarifying shampoo in the pantry!

I have used $$$ Unicorn Power Scour ($15.75 for 16 ounces) for fancy fleeces - but I am anxiously awaiting the release of Natalie Redding's Namaste Farms new product. Since Natalie Redding is both a shepherdess/fiber producer AND DIL of the late Jheri Redding of Redken/Jhirmack/Nexxus fine hair care products, it only makes sense that their companies would join forces to bring us a revolutionary fabulous product. :teehee:

(Funny thing though, Natalie uses Dawn to wash her mohair!)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
WIHH, that is good information. I've got some Suave clarifying and am going to give that a try and see what the difference is between that batch and what I have already washed. What I washed already does have a harsher feel to it than I would like which is why I wanted to see what other people were using.

Do you all always have the last rinse be cold? I didn't because I was worried about shocking the wool.
 

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Ty, Miz Mary and everyone! I really appreciate everyone's input because I have no clue what I'm doing. But I'm learning! :happy:

Lexie, I've never heard of Kookaburra but the word is fun to say! LOL!

I am having such fun! This fleece is so huge I can try a lot of things with it and have some comparisons.

While digging about under the sink for that bottle of Suave (which I didn't find) - I DID find a bottle of dog shampoo. Sad but true, I rarely bathe my dog (she goes to a groomer) and I have no clue how old this stuff is. But it feels gentle. It's pink, smells good and doesn't feel like it will be difficult to rinse out. I have a batch soaking as we speak. :sing:
 

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You know, there is something very quiet and soothing about sorting a fleece. I don't know why. Picking out the best for lock-washing, putting others aside for stock-pot washing, thinking about the sheep as they were growing the wool. I am imagining dying some of this white wool. I'm particularly looking forward to washing Ula's fleece. This is the colored Cotswold I got from the nuns.
 

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I shouldn't have said "cold" I should have said cool. I generally try to get the water the same temp as the fiber, not the wash water.
As invariably, I take for ever to squeeze the wash water out, and the fiber has cooled somewhat by then.:rolleyes:
 

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Ive only washed smalled amounts & have used Dawn. I am aware there is a controversy about it. I used vinegar too, mostly because after washing, I used the rinse water as a dye bath, using food color dyes

Your fleece came out lovely!!!
 

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Thank you so much, PearlB!

The stuff I washed in dog shampoo is now drying on the deck. I think it came out pretty nice! Every bit as white as the other two batches but feels a little softer. The salad spinner that I got at a thrift shop today works like a DREAM to get the excess water out. For sure worth the 3.40 I paid for it! LOL! I think this last batch will dry way quicker.

I am going to have to come up with a system to store this fleece. I had no idea it would poof up so much! If I keep it in a bin or one of those big (as in huge extra enormous) zip lock bags can I pack it down or does that ruin it?

I can imagine getting kind of attached to certain fleeces and the yarn-to-be. So much time and careful handling goes in to it. Maybe I will get over that. I kind of feel like this fleece is my first-born. :hysterical:
 

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as to the "vacuum packing" washed fleece, I kind of hate to do that. I like to keep it "un-compacted", loose, and airy. I just invested in Sterilite clear containers from Fleet Farm . That way I can SEE my pretty clean fleece and have it organized, too.


(They were on sale at $6.49 when I bought mine on Friday!)

http://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/sterilite-66-qt-latch-box/0000000054480
 

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Ok, I use those same type of containers for all of mine, BUT, I read somewhere, that you should never store your fleeces, or natural fiber yarns, in plastic containers.
I honestly can't recall where I read it, or why you shouldn't do it, I just know I saw it somewhere..
Anyone know why you shouldn't?:shrug:

I personally think they work great. :D
 
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