By Annie B. Bond of Greenchicafe.com
“Wool clothing can easily be “wet” washed at home”
If you live in a large metropolitan area you likely are able to find greener “dry” cleaning establishments, those that don’t use perchlorethylene, a highly neurotoxic chemical and possible carcinogen that also damages the environment. Many greener “dry” cleaning establishments also offer “wet” washing of wool, silk, and other clothes that have labels that say “dry clean only.”
Those living in rural locations tend not to have such an environmentally safer option, and given that clothes dry cleaned with polyethylene don’t belong in a healthy home, alternative ways of cleaning wool are needed. Fortunately, wool clothing can easily be “wet” washed at home using the following guidelines:
Wool Washing Rule One: No agitation, wringing, twisting, or squeezing. Any agitation can cause shrinkage by causing the fibers to contract.
Wool Washing Rule Two: Wool is acidic so alkaline detergents and soaps will destroy the fibers. A neutral pH is 7, so avoid detergents (and soap) with a pH higher than an 8. Buy a green detergent especially designed to be be non-caustic and pH neutral, such as the Natural Choices brand of Allergy-Free laundry products, such as Natural Choices liquid laundry detergent. Another option would be Seventh Generation’s Delicate Care Laundry Detergent.
Wool Washing Rule Three: When washing wool, the water temperature should be 100 F or cooler. This temperature is just a bit warmer than body temperature.
Ironing Rules: Use a medium-hot iron with steam, not dry heat. Wool recovers very quickly from wrinkling because the fibers are very resilient, so consider hanging the wrinkled wool clothing before ironing.
–by Annie B. Bond, author of five books on green living, including True Food (National Geographic, 2010), and Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999). For more visit greenchicafe.com.