Can I put a wool jumper in the washing machine...?
- Date 23 Sep 2019
One of the first questions we get asked by people is, 'is our knitwear machine washable?' Shortly followed by, 'I have other wool jumpers that I just shove in the machine, so can I do the same with this one?'
Like many things in life, not all wool jumpers are created equal. Here at Navygrey, we have chosen a luxurious 100% untreated wool. By this we mean our wool has not gone through any chemical treatment processes from sheep to shop. Our wool is washed, combed, dyed and spun in Italy and sent to our factory in Portugal where it is then knitted and finished by hand. That's it.
Treated vs untreated wool
There are however a number of wool garments in the market that have gone through a treatment process that enables them to become 'total easy care' product - by which we mean they can be machine washed, even tumble dried without shrinking and felting. This treatment is often referred to as a 'superwash.'
Each hair of wool is made up of scales. Felting occurs when these scales bind together. A superwash process prevents the scales from binding in one of two ways. Some superwash wools are given an acid bath that removes its scales. Alternatively, the yarn can be coated with a polymer or resin; this is essentially a protective coating for the yarn to prevent felting.
A garment that has been superwashed therefore can still be made from 100% wool and there is no need to state on the care label whether the garment has been made from a yarn that has been treated or untreated.
Untreated wool yarn in its raw fibre state
Due to the chlorine and chemicals currently required to turn our particular wool into a 'machine washable' one, we decided that this was not the right direction for us.
While there are some new and exciting new eco treatments available for some wool yarns which marry machine-washability with strong environmental credentials, the technology for our particular soft woollen yarn isn't quite there yet.
Therefore, because our super-soft wool is untreated, hand-washing remains the best way to look after your Navygrey garments. We actually recommend this above dry cleaning as the latter uses more chemicals but also over time can weaken the natural fibres of the wool.
But what about the hand wash/wool cycle on my machine?
Just like wool, not all washing machines are created equal when it comes to the way they handle wool.
A number of our customers have reported that if they select the hand-wash/wool cycle on their machine, change the spin cycle to the lowest rpm (Revolutions Per Minute) possible (400 rpm maximum) - and then take them out to dry flat, the jumpers wash well.
For this to be successful however, it's vital that the spin cycle is changed to be the lowest possible RPM. The standard RPM for the hand-wash/spin cycle can sometimes be as fast as 1000+ and this speed is far too strong for our jumpers. It's this spinning along with a temperature of above 30 degrees that will damage the jumper causing felting, fluffing and shrinkage. The RPM must be 400 or lower to avoid it changing the nature of the wool.
But remember, wool is naturally antibacterial
It's because of these nuances and differences in machines that at Navygrey we always recommend hand washing and leaving to dry flat naturally as the best way to care for our jumpers.
What's more, we also advise not washing them too much. Our jumpers are 100% Merino wool which is naturally antibacterial, antimicrobial and odour resistant. Usually a good airing for our jumpers is enough - especially if you follow our mantra of 'wear one day, let it breathe for two.'
If you do need to remove a stain, spot cleaning or baby wipes (biodegradable ones are preferable) will usually do the trick - depending on the severity of the stain of course. Just ensure you don't rub too harshly or use bleach. And never leave a jumper to dry in direct heat on a radiator or in the sun as this can cause discolouration.