Tag Archives: Tide

Washing Common Wool

Today I washed common, skirted wool in preparation for dyeing a sample with haskap.  I started with a weighed half pound.  It filled a 20 litre stainless steel pot when it was pushed down, but not packed…


…this is the same half pound set outside the pot…


Temperature set to 160F…


With Tide in the water (stir detergent in gently – no suds), the wool immediately soaked in…the pot was 3/4 full of water…


…after 20 minutes the water was filthy.  Gently push the wool down every five minutes or so, but do not agitate or it will felt…


Taken out to drain in preparation for a new change of water, here’s a pic of the first washing (right) next to unwashed wool (left)…


Second wash water…


Following two washes the wool was rinsed…but the water is still mildly dirty…


While it needs a second rinsing, the wool was set out to dry since I ran out of soft water…


…I will rinse the second time before I mordant.

Items With Which To Wash Bulk Wool



1 – hot water
2- steel stock tank w galvanized grating 2″ off bottom
3 – drain plugs
4 – propane heater
5 – skirting / drying racks (4 x 4 or 2 x 2 wire w 2×4 frame on saw horses)
6 – detergent (Norwex / some report Tide does just as well?)


Skirt wool on skirting racks.  Pull into small pieces.  Discard any felted/too dirty wool and shorts.  Wool will clean itself in doing so – this procedure is critical in that it makes it much easier to wash if cleaned well.

Water needs to be between 150 – 160F (65 – 70C).  Detergent needs to be added before adding the wool o that it does not form suds.  Add wool to water.  Gently press down.  Maintain temperature of water.  Water at top will cool.  Gently press wool down every 5 minutes (approx.) in order to circulate water (note: consider how to achieve this without agitation).  Do not agitate at all during washing / rinse.  Drain.  Repeat.

Wash twice; rinse twice.

Set on racks to dry.

Lanolin extraction:

Lanolin can be commercially extracted from wool at 70C.  I wonder if instead of using detergent the first time (i.e. use instead 160F/70C water alone) if the drained water can then be processed for lanolin extraction by boiling?  Detergent can then be used as outlined above: two wash cycles and two rinse cycles.

(*Note: The principles behind this procedure was outlined to me by a commercial wool processor from the region.  While discussing the particulars of my own life here, it was thought that the above outline would work well.  I have not yet tried this, but hope to do so within a week or two.)

Washing Warp Beam And Cloth Beam Canvases

Today I took the canvases off of the warp and cloth beams.  These were tacked on and came off fairly easily using a small flat screw driver, a lot of pressure to insert it under the head and prying gently and slowly.  Both canvases were very dirty…an indication that it had been neglected in a dirty area.  At first I used a gentle soap in cold water on delicate cycle; the canvas was in a mesh bag.  It came out dirty.  So I used Tide on cold water, and a regular cycle.  This cleaned them well and then I stretched them by hand and hung them to dry.  This was more than satisfactory.