Does Lambswool Shrink When Washed or Dried?

As the name suggests, lambswool is quite literally the wool from lambs. A premium fibre, lambswool is soft and fine and feels wonderful next to the skin. 

While sheep’s wool has a reputation for being itchy, lambswool is entirely different. Less likely to irritate the skin, lambswool is highly sought-after to make natural fibre clothing. 

If you’re lucky enough to have something made from lambswool, knowing how to care for it properly is essential. 

Wool can be a little sensitive, and lambswool is no different, but the information below will help you to keep it in tip-top condition.  


Does Lambswool Shrink?

Yes, lambswool does shrink if it is exposed to a combination of agitation and heat, for example in the tumble dryer. The combination of agitation and heat binds wool fibres closer together, shrinking the wool. 

Therefore, it’s important to avoid this combination of heat and agitation/movement if you want to wash lambswool without it shrinking.


How Do You Wash Lambswool Without Shrinking?


Lambswool comes from the first time a lamb is shorn and is particularly downy and soft. To protect these qualities you’ll need to take more care than usual when washing your lambswool. 

If your lambswool is handled too roughly at any time during washing, you run the risk of it shrinking and felting. 

Hand washing is the recommended way to wash your lambswool to prevent it shrinking. Many manufacturers who produce lambswool garments will only recommend hand washing.

Fill a bowl of warm, but not hot, water and add a squirt of special wool detergent. It’s important to use a detergent that’s been formulated for wool, not your regular brand. Wool detergent will be very gentle on the delicate fibres while still working hard to ensure that the item is cleaned. 

Turning your lambswool item inside out, submerge it in the detergent water solution. Being careful not to wrong or stretch the lambswool, carefully squeeze the suds through it. 

If there are any areas of staining, this can be treated directly with neat laundry detergent. Squirt this on and gently rub with your fingers. 

Once you feel as if the item has been cleaned sufficiently, rinse it through until the water runs clear. 

Be very careful not to expose the lambswool to sudden changes in temperature, hot water or any vigorous rubbing. Any of these will cause the lambswool to shrink so must be avoided at all costs. 


Can You Wash Lambswool in a Washing Machine?

lambswool wash care label

Shrinkage in any type of wool, including lambswool, typically occurs when the individual fibres of the wool tangle together when agitated or subjected to heat. This is known as felting and will cause your soft lambswool to harden, shrink and become more rigid. 

Your lambswool is at its most vulnerable when it’s being washed. If you get it wrong, shrinkage will occur, and this can be difficult to reverse. Washing your lambswool by hand is the safest option as you can control the risk factors such as heat, water and agitation. 

However, some lambswool garments can be put in the washing machine. Check the care instructions from the manufacturer first because it’s not universal. If your lambswool can be washed in the machine, it’s essential that you choose a wool or delicates cycle. This will ensure that the temperature is kept low and that there is less spinning and agitation. 

The lambswool clothing which is compatible with machine washing has often been specially treated, or may be a mix of fibres which offers some protection. 


Does Lambswool Shrink in the Dryer?

lambswool and tumble dryer

If you want to shrink lambswool, using a tumble dryer is the fastest way to do it! The heat from a tumble dryer will cause the lambswool to felt and shrink, even if you pick the lowest temperature. 

Lambswool should never be tumble dried: no exceptions. If you use a tumble dryer for your lambswool garment, it will shrink which may or may not be reversible. It’s not recommended under any circumstances. 

To dry your lambswool items you should lay flat and allow to dry in the air. If there has been any minor shrinkage while gently washing it, then stretch back to the desired shape and size before allowing to dry. 

Don’t expose your lambswool to any heat while its air drying, otherwise you’ll have the same result as using the tumble dryer.