Alpaca wool is a natural fibre used to make various knitted items, including scarves, socks, sweaters, and blankets.
This type of wool is known for being very warm and naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it is an excellent choice for anyone that suffers from sensitive skin.
Alpaca blankets, in particular, are a popular choice for those looking to curl up on the sofa on a cold winter’s night.
They are amazingly soft and, when properly cared for, can remain in top condition for decades.
However, alpaca wool is also very delicate, so washing these blankets requires special attention to avoid damage.
In this article, you will discover how to wash an alpaca blanket safely and effectively so that you can keep it looking and feeling its best.
Read on for all you need to know!
Can You Wash an Alpaca Wool Blanket?
When cleaning 100% alpaca wool blankets, you need to be very careful, as the wrong conditions will cause the fibres to become damaged.
Nevertheless, some alpaca blankets can be washed.
If this is the case with your blanket, the best option is to do so by hand. This is because it requires minimal friction and heat, the two things that are likely to cause damage to your blanket.
Unfortunately, the size of an alpaca blanket means that you will need access to a bath or a similar-sized tub to wash it in.
If you don’t have a bath, you can wash some alpaca blankets in the washing machine, as long as you use extreme care. You can find details of both washing methods down below.
Can You Hand Wash an Alpaca Blanket?
You can hand-wash an alpaca blanket if the care label says it is safe to do so. To safely hand wash your blanket, follow the below instructions:
- Shake the blanket to remove any loose dirt and debris from the surface.
- Fill a large tub with enough cold water to fully submerge the blanket.
- Add a little baby shampoo or a mild detergent to the water, ensuring it is evenly distributed.
- Place your alpaca blanket in the water so that it is fully submerged.
- Gently move the fabric around for a few minutes, taking care not to agitate it too much.
- Drain away the soapy water and thoroughly rinse the blanket with fresh, cold water.
- Let the remaining water drain away, and then lightly squeeze the fabric to remove as much moisture as possible. Do not wring the wool, as this causes the blanket to become misshapen.
- Leave your blanket to dry (see below for more details).
Can You Wash an Alpaca Blanket in the Washing Machine?
Although we don’t recommend washing an alpaca blanket in the washing machine, some care labels will indicate that it is safe to do so.
This is more common for blankets with a blend of cotton or acrylic, but some 100% alpaca blankets can also be washed using these settings.
Nowadays, most washing machines come with a pre-programmed wash setting meant for use on wool and other delicate fabrics.
These wash cycles use as little agitation as possible and are supposed to mimic hand washing to reduce the chances of damage to these materials.
For the best results, you will need to:
- Select the gentlest cycle on your washing machine.
- Reduce the water temperature and spin speed to the lowest possible settings.
- Add a mild detergent to your machine’s dispenser (one specifically designed for use on woollen items will be best).
- Place your blanket into the machine drum and let the wash cycle run its course.
- Remove the blanket from the machine and leave it to dry (see below for more details).
How Do You Dry an Alpaca Blanket?
While the majority of damage to alpaca wool will occur while it is being washed, it is possible to damage your blanket if you dry it using the wrong technique.
The best way to dry an alpaca blanket after washing it is to:
- Roll your blanket up in a clean, dry towel to suck out any excess moisture.
- After a minute, remove the blanket from the towel and lay it out flat to air dry.
- Ensure the blanket is kept away from sunlight and indoor heat sources until fully dry.
No matter what you do, never put an alpaca blanket in the tumble dryer.
Although it can be tempting to try and speed up the drying process this way, the high temperatures and tumbling motion used in the appliance will cause your blanket to shrink and damage the delicate fibres.
If you want your blanket to dry sooner, you can try laying it out on top of a dry towel so that more moisture is absorbed.
Keep the blanket in a well-ventilated area so that there is airflow over the fabric, but avoid hanging it up, as this will cause it to lose its shape.
Does Alpaca Wool Shrink When Washed?
When exposed to heat and friction, alpaca wool is prone to shrinkage. This is because they cause the delicate fibres to become brittle and tight (known as felting), meaning your blanket will shrink.
The chances of this occurring increase when the wool fibres are longer and treated with products such as bleach or dye.
Unfortunately, these are two conditions often used when washing fabric, meaning an alpaca blanket can easily become damaged if washed incorrectly.
Agitation, in particular, is hard to avoid, which is why we advise you against placing your blanket in the washing machine and tumble dryer.
If your alpaca blanket does become misshapen, it is sometimes possible to stretch it back to its original shape and size. You can find details of how to do in our article on alpaca wool shrinkage.
How Often Should You Wash an Alpaca Blanket?
Alpaca wool is self-cleaning, meaning it does not need to be washed as often as other fabrics. Of course, after continued use, it will need to be freshened up.
However, the wool will naturally repel most liquid, dirt, and odour it comes into contact with.
Because of this, we suggest that you only clean your alpaca blanket when it is noticeably dirty or gives off any unwanted odours.
If needed, you can also refresh your blanket between washes using the following techniques:
- Sun the wool: If your blanket starts smelling and looking a little worse for wear, you can freshen it up by laying it in the sun. Just ensure it is not left out for more than 15 minutes, as this can cause fading.
- Spot-treat stains: If your blanket becomes stained, you can spot-treat the marks rather than washing your whole blanket. This can usually be done by dabbing the area with a clean paper towel and then running the fabric under cold water until the rest of the stain has been removed. Always do this as soon as possible to prevent permanent discolouration.
- Leave the blanket to air: The majority of odours that your blanket will pick up can be removed by simply leaving your blanket out to air. Even an hour or two out of storage will make a huge difference.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.