Wool is a great alternative to down if you have allergies. It is also revered by people with multiple chemical sensitivities. Wool is a great option for organic bedding. But wool needs special care. One of the most common questions people have when considering wool is how to take care of wool bedding. It’s not hard. Just read the label.
Why sheep don’t shrink in the rain but wool does
Ever wonder why sheep don’t shrink when they get wet, but your wool blanket comes out of the dryer a quarter of its original size?
It’s because the wool doesn’t actually shrink, it felts. That’s an entirely different process.
Wool fibers have tiny, flat, overlapping scales on them. These scales always face away from the sheep’s body. When you wash wool, these scales hook onto each other, interlock, and hold on tight. That’s felting. The fibers hold so tight they pull the surrounding fibers closer. They interlock. Suddenly fibers spread over a large area are now huddled up close, held in place by those scales.
You can process the wool so that these scales are removed or made to always lay flat. That’s how you get washable wool. But not all wool is washable.
How to care for Merino wool bedding
Always read the label first. Merino is a breed of sheep, it isn’t a brand name of wool. Merino sheep produce a wool that is very fine and loaded with keratin. That means it is strong. It is also loaded with lanolin. That makes it naturally antibacterial.
Spot clean Merino wool with a mild detergent or soap made especially for wool. Hang your Merino wool comforter or mattress pad outside on a sunny day. The ultraviolet light will freshen the bedding.
The best way to keep your Merino wool comforter clean is to encase it in a 100% cotton zippered comforter cover. This keeps the oils from your skin off the cover. If the cover gets soiled, you just remove it and toss it in the wash.
How to care for washable wool bedding
Once again, it pays to read the label. The Allergy Store sells Shropshire and other washable wool bedding than can be safely cleaned at home.
Never crowd your comforter or pad into the washer. If the washer is too small, take it to a commercial laundry or wash it in the bathtub.
Make sure you rinse well. If soap residue coats the wool fibers, you don’t get the benefit of the lanolin or keratin.
Tumble dry with low heat. As with the washing machine, if your dryer is too small to do the job well, take it to the commercial laundry.