Wool is great for keeping you warm in the colder months, making it the perfect fabric for coats. But you’ve probably heard many horror stories about people shrinking their favourite wool items by washing them incorrectly.
While coats don’t need as frequent washing as other items, this still leads us to wonder how to wash a wool coat.
This is exactly what we’ll cover in this article. Read on to discover the best washing process for wool coats along with some tips for keeping your item looking fresh.
How to Wash a Wool Coat
The best way to wash a wool coat is by hand in cool water. Generally, a wool coat shouldn’t need heavy washing because it doesn’t come into direct contact with your skin, so doesn’t get sweaty, and shouldn’t get too dirty being worn outside.
However, if you do notice a mark or spill something on your coat, the best first step is to spot clean it.
To do so, dab at the stain with a damp cloth. Then, with a new cloth, rinse it in cold water and blot the stain.
Avoid rubbing it, as this can work the stain deeper into the fabric. Provided you catch it in time, you should be able to remove as much as possible.
But if your wool coat needs a full clean, do it by hand. You’ll need:
- Wool safe detergent, such as Clothes Doctor Cashmere and Wool Wash
- A basin large enough to hold your coat (a bath works fine)
- A pilling remover tool such as a fabric shaver
- A large towel
The steps are fairly simple:
- Start by removing pilling from your wool coat if you want to. This isn’t necessary but can quickly freshen up a wool coat.
- Fill your basin with lukewarm water (around 30 degrees Celsius). Aim on the cooler side if you can’t measure the temperature.
- Add a small amount of your detergent.
- Put your coat in the warm water and gently swish it around for a few minutes.
- Leave it to soak for up to 30 minutes. Agitate it again very gently.
- Remove the coat and allow the excess water to run off.
- Tip away the dirty water and replace it with clean water. Rinse off your coat.
- Holding the coat by the shoulders, allow the excess water to run off.
- Then, lay it flat on a towel and roll it up. This helps to remove the excess water.
- To fully dry the coat, lay it flat on another towel. Flip it every 12 hours or so until it’s fully dry.
This is probably a longer process than you were expecting, but it’s not a difficult one.
You just have to be very gentle with wool because it can shrink in hot water and stretch if hung to dry.
If you’re concerned about your coat smelling musty if left to dry for too long, you can hang it from a coat hanger once it’s mostly dry.
Avoid doing this when it’s still very wet, as it holds a lot of water and this can pull the fibres.
Can You Machine Wash a Wool Coat?
You can machine wash a wool coat if the care instructions say so. If doing so, make sure you use a wool cycle, or even a handwash/delicates cycle.
30 degrees Celsius is the best temperature, again to prevent shrinkage or damage to the fibres. You’ll still need to lay it flat to dry, but this shouldn’t take as long as when you wash it by hand.
Even if you machine-wash your wool coat, never put it in the tumble dryer. Even on a low heat setting, it can be enough to shrink the fibres.
Drying wool can take a long time, but it’s absolutely worth doing it properly.
Does 100% Wool Need to be Dry Cleaned?
Items that are 100% wool don’t always need to be dry cleaned. You can often hand-wash them as long as you’re careful.
However, you should always pay attention to the item’s care label, as there could be some reason why it can’t be washed. It might not be the fabric specifically, but it could be the colour or weave.
Hopefully you now know how to wash a wool coat. The bottom line is that it can be done by hand with a bit of care. But if you’re in doubt, taking your wool coat to a dry cleaner will ensure it’s treated with care and is spotless ready for the winter.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.