How to Wash A Fleece (using a washing machine)
Prep: Skirt your fleece and carry into the laundry room. Lay a towel down on top of the dryer (or counter, if you have one). You will place the fleece on this towel in-between washing/rinsing.
Step 1: Fill your washer with hot water. Oh yeah, hot n' steamy!
Step 2: Turn off the washer. Now add enough Dawn soap (or other detergent--I've read that Dawn is preferable) to make the water feel slippery (about 1 Cup). Use your hand (or a spoon, if you don't want to put your hands in the hot water) to gently incorporate the soap into the water. Don't make any suds!
Step 3: Gently place fleece into the hot, soapy water. It is very important NOT to agitate the fleece--resist the temptation to mix or swish it around! Agitation will cause the fibers of your fleece to weave together, making felt. We don't want felt right now, just clean wool. ;)
Step 4: Close the washer lid and let the fleece soak for 45 minutes.
Step 5: Set your washer on the spin cycle and turn it back on. Make sure that you don't put it on the rinse cycle or anything--JUST SPIN. When the spin cycle is through, your fleece will look like this:
Step 6: Now take the fleece out and set on the towel.
Step 7: Fill the washer with hot water again. This is the rinse, so don't add any soap. Gently place fleece back into the washer; let soak for 30 minutes. Spin.
Step 8: Remove fleece from washer and set on towel.
Look how clean it is!
This is my fleece after the first wash (above). Mohair (wool that comes from Angora goats) is very fine, and often needs more than one wash. I ended up washing/rinsing my fleece three times in all. :)
After the first wash, you can begin separating the pieces of wool that are clean enough to dry from the wool that needs another trip through the wash. Repeat the wash/rinse cycles as many times as needed for a lovely, clean fleece!
This is my fleece after the second wash. You can tell it is a little bit whiter. Believe it or not, Irma's fleece is a true white underneath all of that dirt!
Step 9: Add 1/2 Cup white vinegar to your last rinse. Spin.
Step 10: Lay wool out to dry on a clean towel or drying rack. Ta-da!
Next Step: Combing or Carding! This is a bit of Irma's mohair that has been carded. Isn't it beautiful? This is just so exciting. :)
So there you have it! My first foray into the wonderful world of wool washing. I think it went pretty well!
Many thanks to The Joy of Handspinning for their helpful directions and advice in all areas of the spinning process. :)