Wool and Wool/ Silk Care
Wool and silk/wool do not need as much washing as cotton. Wool is repellent to bacterial growth and has amazing self-cleaning properties. Air these garments frequently and you will find they smell fresh for many wears.
They should be gently hand washed or machine washed on a 30 deg wool cycle using a specialist detergent for delicate fabrics only. Using a wool detergent (ideally a gentle plant-based one) is critical because wool is very sensitive to pH and anything too alkaline will shrink it.
When washing wool, water should be blood temperature not cold. Cold water is the most common reason for people shrinking things. Additionally, wool is subject to 'temperature shock' which occurs when there is a big difference in temperature between washing and rinsing temperatures. It's very important to wash and rinse in the same temperature.
Machine spinning is fine except in the case of wool fleece. Spread to dry flat away from a direct heat source. They can be hung on the line to dry if they are not too wet (which may cause the garment to stretch out of shape).
For tough stains use gall soap, a powerful natural stain remover which is kind to delicate fabrics. Dab the gall soap on to the stain, leave a few minutes then wash as normal.
Wool is protected from dirt and moisture by its natural lanolin content, which is removed over time by washing. In order to restore the wool’s waterproof and dirt-proof qualities, you can use a detergent which contains some lanolin for everyday washing or you can use a separate lanolin conditioner from time to time. Simply soak the wool in a solution of warm water and lanolin for 10 minutes, squeeze out the water (or spin on a low speed) then leave to dry.
We don’t recommend dry-cleaning any fabrics used by children due to the toxic chemical perchloroethylene which remains in the fabric after cleaning.
Washing wool fleece: Carefully squeeze out excess water and don't ring out forcefully or fast spin or you could flatten the fleece.
Untreated wool - (Engel, Cosilana, Hocosa, Disana, Lilano, Rieff Strick) These products are delicate to wash because the wool which has not been subject to any chemical treatments to improve washability. Follow the instructions to the letter and do not machine wash unless you are confident your machine has a reliable wool cycle.
Enzyme or plasma treated wool - (Living Crafts, Dilling, Some Engel) These have had an environmentally friendly treatment with an enzyme or electricity to improve the washability. It's still important to take care!
Superwashed wool - (Joha, some Dilling) These have had a treatment which uses chlorine to improve the washability. The final product is tested and certified so so it's free of any residues but the process is not as environmentally friendly as for untreated wool. These are the best products if you want to machine wash everything as they are very easy to care for. If you're a bit slapdash with your washing, they may even survive an accidental wash on a cotton cycle.
How to Lanolise Wool
From time to time wool will benefit from using a lanolin treatment to keep it supple and increase its water-resistant qualities. (Think of it as a conditioning treatment.) If you are treating nappy wraps, lanolising is essential to ensure they work as they should and don't leak. Some people find lanolising twice helps but you can experiment with this. Lanolin may also help ‘rescue’ wool that has accidentally been through a cotton cycle if you catch it before it dries..
If you are using solid lanolin you will need to dissolve around a teaspoon in very hot water. Adding a drop or two of wool wash will help emulsify it and turn the liquid milky. Add the dissolved lanolin solution into a bowl of tepid water (enough to cover the garment) and mix. The temperature should be around blood temperature. Soak the wool a few minutes and then gently wring out the water. You can roll the wool up in a dry towel to help remove the water, then dry as normal.
For liquid lanolin such as the one we sell, the procedure is the same but you can add the liquid (about a tablespoon per litre) directly to the water.
The wool should not feel greasy to the touch after this treatment if it does another wash with wool detergent will restore the balance.
Gall soap is made from bovine bile so it's not suitable for vegans and it does require a strong stomach. However, it's an incredibly effective stain treatment especially for protein / oil stains and does not damage delicate fabrics. It's less effective on pigments caused by ink or fruit; but brilliant on baby poo, sweat, oil, gravy etc. To use it, add a small amount directly to the stain and emulsify with a bit of water. Massage it into a foam and leave it to work 5 or 10 mins. Then wash as normal. You can repeat this process if necessary. The smell will not linger!
Nappy Sanitiser / Eco Laundry Bleach
Both products are based on hydrogen peroxide and work by releasing oxygen gas when mixed with water. This a safe and non-toxic sanitiser and stain treatment that is very powerful on almost all type of stain; and works beautifully to restore whiteness without the use of optical brighteners. These products are suitable for cotton / synthetic only, not wool!
Mix up a solution of the product with hot water according to the instructions on the packet and soak your clothes. Although generally safe on colours, a particularly strong solution can have a slight bleaching effect on coloured clothing so don't soak for too long or use too strong a solution. To whiten whites, mix up a strong solution with very hot water and soak for several hours or overnight and then wash as normal. It can also be used in the washing machine and works best on warm to hot wash.
Care of Organic Cotton
We recommend washing cotton in the machine at 30-40 deg using an environmentally friendly liquid detergent which does not contain any bleaching agents. We don’t recommend ‘big brand’ detergents as they are very harsh and tend to contain synthetic fragrances, optical brighteners and phosphates.
Tough stains can be treated with gall soap or by soaking in Ecover laundry bleach.
All natural fabrics will show some fading depending on how much sunshine they are exposed to and the type of detergents used. Unbleached cotton will gradually lighten with repeated washing. If possible dry on the line, turning inside out to reduce fading or dry over a radiator. Tumble drying will substantially reduce the lifespan of cotton, particularly knitted garments.
Handwoven cotton has irregularities which are part of its character. Although it will not shrink it may appear smaller after washing and should be ironed with a hot steam iron to restore its shape.