As the weather gets warmer and we start shedding layers, it's important to not neglect your woolens! It's easy so easy to forget about your hats and mittens, sweaters and scarves at the back of the wardrobe or at the bottom of your mitten bin, but don't! Wash and store as soon as possible. Trust me. I have been lazy in the past, only to pull out the knits again in September to find they had been destroyed. My heart sinks when I see the signs of moths. It's devastating. And here's a little secret, moths LOVE dirty wool. It's the first thing they eat. So you must clean before your store.
A few years ago I was asked by Kirsten Rickert to talk about laundering wool. It's not complicated, but yet so many of us have a fear of altering our beautiful woolens by incorrect laundering. Most of the Misha & Puff collection is machine wash, and yet I do love a hand wash as an end of season check-in before storing away. You can nicely reshape, see if anything needs repairs, as well as check what has been outgrown and needs to be passed on. The steps are simple: Find a nice breezy spring day, and wash everything all at once. Recommendations for wash are Eucalin or the Laundress Wool & Cashmere. I also like their cedar spray for woolens. Once they are completely dry, store in an airtight container. Add some lavender or cedar. The airtight container is key. The other thing moths love is cool dark places, like the back of your drawers. Spend the little extra time caring for your woolen treasures and they will truly become heirlooms.
Steps for Washing and Storing
1. Fill a sink with lukewarm water (too hot or too cold shocks the fibers). Wash like colors together.
2. Use very little soap – best to use a wool detergent because it produces less suds, but in a bind I have used any non-scented detergent. But really, less than a thimble full.
3. Agitate slightly, soak for a bit and then rinse with clean lukewarm water.
4. Squish out excess water – DON’T TWIST OR WRING OUT! When the knits are wet, they are very susceptible to stretching (in that case if you ever want to stretch a piece to be bigger or have longer sleeves, etc. do it while it is wet)
5. Lay flat on a towel and reshape. Roll up in the towel and squeeze out extra water. Reshape again and leave to dry flat on a fresh towel. If you can, place outside but not in direct sunlight.
6. Fold or lay knits flat. Never hang knits, this will stretch them. We have a cedar chest where we keep our knits in the off season. Cedar blocks or a lavender sachet are nice too and will help keep away months. Always wash knits before putting away for the season.