How to wash a wool blanket without shrinking it

It's easier to wash a wool blanket than you think

Cream colored chunky knit blanket on white bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Before getting cozy on the couch, learn how to wash a wool blanket for ultimate freshness and zero shrinkage.

You may have spilled a little red wine while tucked up watching Netflix or your pets prefer to use your favorite blanket as their sleeping spot. Our expert tips will show how to get your wool blanket looking good as new without damaging it.

Wool can be a difficult material to manage and while you can take it to the dry cleaners for professional help, our laundry experts explain how to do laundry and keep your precious items safe and sound.

How to wash a wool blanket

While blankets may not see the same wear and tear that our clothes do, it's still important to keep them fresh and banish any dirt, grime, and odors that may be naturally sticking to the fibers. If you can't tell where a funky smell is coming from in your living room, it may be time to wash your throw pillows, blankets, and other accessories.

Once you have all your laundry room essentials together like a mild laundry detergent and stain removers (we like Miss Mouth's stain treater available on Amazon), you can load up your washing machine.

Cream colored chunky knit blanket rolled up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step 1: shake it out

First things first, you're going to want to get rid of any loose dust, crumbs, hair, or other things that may be clinging to the material (loose popcorn kernels after movie night, anyone?). You can also give your blanket a light brush with a lint brush like this horse hair one from Amazon to get rid of any stubborn debris.

"Give your wool blanket a good shake outside to rid it of any loose dirt or debris. Think of it as a pre-wash ritual so any loose particles aren’t mixing (and potentially damaging) your wool blanket as you clean," says cleaning expert, Karina Toner.

Karina Toner, Operations Manager, Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is a cleaning expert and the Operations Manager at Washington D.C.-based Spekless Cleaning. 

Step 2: spot treat

Treat any stains before throwing your blanket in the washing machine. There are some pretty simple ways to get rid of food stains but you can also use a gentle detergent like Tide Free & Gentle detergent, available on Amazon to avoid harsh chemicals (a common laundry mistake). 

"Address any stains before washing by spot-treating with a mild detergent. Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage the wool fibers," says Angela Rubin, a cleaning expert from Hellamaid.

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. 

Step 3: wash on gentle cycle with cold water

Put your washing machine on a delicate cycle and switch the temperature to cold. "This will minimize agitation to protect the delicate wool fibers," says Angela. 

If working with natural wool, you may prefer to use a detergent specifically designed for it, such as  Outback Gold Wool Wash available on Amazon. You may also want to guard your blanket inside a large mesh delicates bag, such as these laundry bags from Amazon.

Angela says, "Place the wool blanket inside a mesh laundry bag to protect it during
the washing cycle. This prevents friction and potential damage to the
fibers."

Step 4: roll blanket in a towel

Wool holds onto a lot of water after being washed so you'll need to gently ring it out to get rid of excessive moisture. Lay the blanket on a flat surface and place a towel on top, then roll the towel and blanket together to squeeze the water out. 

Step 5: air dry

To avoid shrinking your wool blanket, it's best to avoid heat and keep it out of the dryer. "With wool, it’s important to opt for the air-dry method. Lay your wool blanket flat on a clean, dry surface, or hang it to dry. Resist the temptation to tumble dry — again, heat may cause shrinkage," says Karina.

If you're drying laundry in a small space, a collapsible and sturdy rack such as an Amazon Basics rack with tens of thousands of great reviews will be a cheap and cheerful investment.

Cream colored knit blanket close up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

FAQs

Can I hand wash a wool blanket?

If you'd prefer to just wash your blanket by hand, you can do so pretty easily in the sink or bathtub. "Simply fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a gentle wool detergent, creating a soothing bath for your blanket. Using your hands, delicately swish it around and squeeze, allowing the detergent to work its magic between the fibers," says Karina.

How can I make my wool blanket softer?

You may worry your wool blanket is going to come out rough and scratchy from the wash, or perhaps the natural wool has just gotten tough over time. Don't stress, you can actually make the material feel soft and cozy again after washing it. 

"If you want to enhance softness, add a cup of white vinegar (this industrial strength concentrated vinegar is Amazon's choice would work well but do follow the packet instructions to dilute appropriately when needed) to the rinse cycle. This helps to remove soap residue and leaves the wool feeling soft," says Angela.


While it's a common laundry myth that you can't wash wool without shrinking it, if you're careful about how you use your washing machine, you can achieve great results. 

We would avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals as these may damage the natural fibers. But if you stick to gentle wash and skip the dryer, your blanket will turn out as good as new. 

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas, informative how tos, the latest celeb homes style and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.

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