how often to wash wool

How Often Should You Wash Wool?

Wool is a natural fibre that comes from the hair of sheep, goats and other animals such as alpacas.

It is one of the oldest fabrics in the world, and it has many unique properties that make it a popular choice for clothing, bedding, and other textiles.

While it’s a great fabric, it can be difficult to wash when compared to other materials.

Washing wool too often can quickly wear it out and therefore you may be wondering how often you should you wash. That’s what we’re here to find out!


How Often Does Wool Need to Be Washed?

washing wool in washing machine

A lot of people wear their items of clothing once and then throw them in the washing basket but with wool, it probably won’t need washing after one use. 

Exactly how long you can go between washing will depend on several factors such as the type of clothing and how much you’ve been sweating. 

You can often wear woollen clothing 3-5 times before it needs to be washed. The reason for this is due to the natural oils within the wool fibres. Not only do they help to repel the growth of bacteria but they will also repel our own natural skin oils. 

In simple terms, wool won’t stink as quickly as other materials. The factors that determine exactly when it needs to be washed can vary. For example, those woollen socks you’ve worn for hiking will usually need washing more often than a sweater that you wore on a chilly night. 

A simple smell test is all you need. Often if you air your wool items out overnight, the next day they’ll smell fresh without the need to wash them at all. Knowing this is a great way to preserve your wool clothing and keep it looking new for longer


Why Not Wash Wool Every Time?

do not wash wool every time

Wool is a durable and amazing fabric that is resistant to water, fire and can keep us warm on even the coldest of nights. 

While it’s hard to break wool, if you put it in the washing machine, it’s easy to shrink if you’re not careful.

Washing wool too frequently can damage it. If your wool garment is lightly soiled, you can spot clean it with a damp cloth. If your garment is heavily soiled, you can wash it by hand or machine, using the instructions on the label. 

Wool is a difficult fabric to wash because it is susceptible to shrinking, felting, and losing its shape. The reason for this is that when combined with heat and movement, the fibres of wool catch on each other. This clumps the fibres together and therefore makes your clothes smaller. 

While you can wash wool on a cold wash, this often means washing it separately from the rest of your clothes. 

This not only takes up more energy and water (and therefore money) but it’s also time-consuming. This is why it makes sense to only wash your wool when you have to. 


Different Types of Wool Yarn

types of wool yarn

There are two main types of yarn, worsted and woollen. 

Worsted wool is made from long fibres that have been combed to align them in one direction. This type of wool is typically used for making suit fabrics, dress shirts, and other garments that require a smooth finish.

Woollen wool is made from shorter fibres that have not been combed. This type of wool is often used for making sweaters, blankets, and other items that have a more textured appearance.

If you are washing worsted wool, you should use cool water and a mild detergent. You can wash woollen wool in either cool or warm water, but you should use a milder detergent than you would use for worsted wool.

When washing either type of wool, it is important to avoid using hot water or harsh detergents, as this can damage the fibres and cause shrinkage. See these wool detergents for some wool-friendly options.

You should also avoid wringing or twisting the fabric, as this can also lead to shrinkage.


Should You Hand Wash Wool?

handwashing wool

You may now be wondering whether it’s worth putting your wool into a washing machine at all. If you want to preserve the look and feel of the wool as much as possible, then hand washing is the way to go. 

If you are hand washing wool, you should use cool water and a mild detergent. Gently swish the garment in the water, and then rinse it thoroughly. Make sure to air dry it and avoid using a tumble dryer.

While that’s the gentlest method, don’t be afraid to use a washing machine. Most will have a ‘delicate’, ‘hand wash’ or ‘wool’ cycle, and many modern machines will have all three. Choose the one most suitable and ensure that the temperature does not exceed 40 degrees Celsius. 

Some woollen garments may suggest a 30-degree maximum. If so, the hand wash cycle on your machine should be at this temperature. You may also be able to adjust your wool cycle temperature if it is automatically set to 40 degrees.



Wool usually doesn’t need to be washed after every use and a wool jumper can often be worn several times before it needs to be cleaned. Any wool you use as a base layer may need cleaning more often but can often be aired out without washing. 

There are many reasons why washing wool sparingly is a good idea. It protects your clothes while saving you both money and time. If you do need to wash it, then using a dedicated cycle in your machine is fine but for the highest level of care, hand wash your wool clothing.