Does Alpaca Wool Shrink When Washing And Drying?

Alpaca wool is a luxurious and popular material many adore for its warmth and hypoallergenic properties. Since they can be quite expensive, those who own garments made from alpaca wool often worry about whether they will shrink when washed and dried. 

The straightforward answer to this is yes, alpaca wool can indeed shrink if not handled properly. However, with the right techniques and precautions such as hand washing and air drying, you can definitely clean your alpaca wool items without any shrinkage or damage. 

Let’s learn more about how to take care of your alpaca wool in this article!

Why Does Alpaca Wool Shrink?

Alpaca wool, one of the fabrics that people with sensitive skin love as it does not irritate their skin, comes from the fleece of the alpaca, a cousin to the llama.

This type of wool is highly regarded for its luxurious texture and is used in high-quality clothing and bedding. Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fibres are hollow, making them lighter and more insulating. 

clothing made of alpaca wool

This unique structure also means alpaca wool requires careful handling to maintain its shape and texture.

So why does it shrink? Shrinkage in alpaca wool occurs primarily due to the agitation and heat often involved in the washing and drying process. 

Alpaca fibres, like those of other animals, are protein-based, which makes them sensitive to changes in temperature and moisture. When exposed to heat and movement, the fibres can curl up and tighten, leading to shrinkage.

Hence, the key to avoiding shrinkage to your alpaca wool ultimately lies in your washing and drying methods. 

How to Wash Alpaca Wool Safely

The inherent qualities of alpaca wool, such as its natural resistance to odours and dirt, mean it doesn’t require frequent washing. 

This is advantageous because less washing reduces the risk of damage and shrinkage. When you do need to clean alpaca wool, we recommend hand washing – as it is the most gentle and effective method.

TIP: Before washing your alpaca wool, always read its care label. Some items may be labelled dry clean only, while others can be hand washed or machine washed on a gentle cycle.

Steps For Handwashing Alpaca Wool

  1. Fill a basin with cold to lukewarm water, as hot water can cause the wool fibres to contract and felt. 
  2. Add a mild detergent formulated for delicate fabrics or specifically for wool. These detergents help maintain the integrity of the wool fibres without harsh chemicals.
  3. Submerge the alpaca wool item in the water and gently swish it around to distribute the soap. Avoid scrubbing or twisting the fabric, as this can distort the fibres.
  4. After washing, rinse the garment carefully with cold water to remove all soap residues. Change the water as needed until it runs clear.

For those who prefer using a washing machine, make sure to set it to the wool or delicates cycle, which uses minimal agitation and a cool water setting. 

DID YOU KNOW? Felting happens when too much agitation or heat causes wool fabrics to bind tightly and “shrink”.

Tips for Drying Alpaca Wool

To avoid shrinking your alpaca wool, it’s best to make use of a proper drying method. Heat is the primary reason for damage in fabrics, and when it comes to wool, it’s best to avoid it entirely. 

Here are the things you need to know:

Air Dry

To dry alpaca wool, lay the garment flat on a dry towel, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. 

Reshape it gently to its original shape. Avoid hanging alpaca wool when it’s still wet, as the weight of the water can stretch the fibres, distort its shape, and make it saggy.

Remove Excess Moisture

Instead of wringing out the water which can damage the fibres, gently press the garment between two towels to absorb the moisture. 

Roll the item in the towel gently using your palms to remove as much water as possible.

If Possible, No Tumble Drying

Avoid using a tumble dryer, as the combination of heat and motion can cause significant shrinkage. Yes, some fabrics can withstand the agitation, but is it really worth the risk?

If you really want to preserve your wool, air drying is the safest method to keep its quality and further extend its lifespan. 

TIP: Accidentally shrunk your alpaca wool? Soak the shrunken garment in cold water mixed with hair conditioner.  This softens the wool, making it easier to gently stretch back to its original form.

Additional Tips To Keep Your Alpaca Wool In Great Shape

Now that you know the best ways to clean and dry your alpaca wool, there’s no need to stop yourself from enjoying its soft fabric. 

Before we end this article, it’s not CheckAppliance if we don’t give you some extra tips!

Here are the things you can do to make your alpaca wool fabrics last longer and in excellent condition:

  • Since alpaca wool is naturally odour-resistant, often, simply airing it out can refresh the garment. Hang it in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to remove any odours and moisture.
  • When not in use, store alpaca wool garments in a cool, dry place. Use breathable garment bags to prevent dust accumulation and protect from moths.
  • For minor soiling, spot cleaning is a practical approach. Use a mild detergent and cold water to treat the affected area without having to wash the entire garment.

And there you have it! By following our tips and methods, you won’t have to worry about shrinkage anymore. 

Do you have questions? Feel free to ask them below!

SEE ALSO: Will Lambswool Shrink When Washed & Dried?

Frequently Asked Questions

Does alpaca wool shrink in the dryer?

Yes, alpaca wool does shrink in the dryer. The heat and agitation from tumble drying can cause significant shrinkage, so it is recommended to air dry alpaca wool to maintain its shape and quality.

Can you wash and dry alpaca wool?

You can wash alpaca wool, but it should be done carefully, preferably by hand washing in cold to lukewarm water with a mild detergent. It is best to avoid drying alpaca wool in a dryer due to the risk of shrinkage; instead, air dry it by laying it flat on a towel away from direct heat.

How do you fix a shrunken alpaca wool sweater?

To fix a shrunken alpaca wool sweater, soak it in cold water mixed with hair conditioner to soften the fibres. After soaking, gently stretch the sweater back to its original size by hand, then lay it flat to air dry.

What happens if alpaca wool gets wet?

If alpaca wool gets wet, it is important to dry it properly to prevent stretching or misshaping. The wool should be laid flat on a dry towel, reshaped gently to its original form, and left to air dry away from direct sunlight and heat.

What are the disadvantages of alpaca wool?

The disadvantages of alpaca wool include its sensitivity to heat and agitation, which can lead to shrinkage or felting. Additionally, it requires careful handling and specific cleaning methods, which may not be as simple as care for other fabrics.

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