Will Lambswool Shrink When Washed & Dried?

Lambswool is a premium fabric that comes from a young sheep, usually at about seven months old. Compared to other fabrics, it has a higher value due to its scarcity and is very soft and comfy to wear. 

Unfortunately, many people worry about how to clean and dry it, as lambswool does have a tendency to shrink when washed and dried, especially when exposed to heat. Hence, it’s important to know how to care for this natural fibre and make it last for a much longer time. 

Let’s learn more about lambswool in this article.

Why Does Lambswool Shrink?

Lambswool fibres are like tiny springs that can stretch and bounce back. When you wash it in water, especially hot water, and move it around a lot, these fibres can get tangled up. This tangling, combined with heat and water, makes the wool shrink. It’s like how your hair gets frizzy when it’s humid. The wool fibres react to the water and change shape.

lambswool fabric

Also, lambswool is a protein-based fibre, unlike plant-based fibres such as cotton. It’s sensitive to temperature changes and moisture, so it can easily shrink if not handled properly during washing and drying.

How to Wash Lambswool Without Shrinking It

To keep lambswool soft and in good shape, it’s important to wash it gently. Here are some tips when washing your fabric:

Use Cold Water

Always wash lambswool in cold water. Hot water can make the fibres in the wool tighten up and shrink. Think of it like your hair reacting to hot water. Just as hot water can make your hair feel frizzy, it can make wool shrink. 

30 Degree Wash Cycle

Read the care label of your lambswool. It will be your guide on what temperature to use, although most would suggest washing using a temp of 30°C.

Choose A Gentle Wool Detergent

Not all detergents are good for lambswool. Some are too strong and can strip away the natural oils in the wool, making it dry and brittle. 

Look for a detergent labelled as “wool wash” or “gentle” on the packaging. These detergents are made to clean the wool without being too harsh. They help keep the wool soft and prevent it from getting damaged.

Cashmere and Wool Eco Wash by Clothes Doctor Laundry Detergent Liquid Gentle Washing Machine and Hand Wash Safe Nourish and Protect Your Knitwear and Delicate Fabrics 500ml 32 Washes
  • Cashmere and wool are delicate natural fabrics that deserve special treatment (as we all do from time to time). Our No.3 Eco Wash for Cashmere and Wool is a gentle pH neutral formula that extends the life of your knitwear through cleaning, renewing and softening. It is lightly scented with Himalayan cedarwood and orange oil, to provide natural moth defence. Use this treatment in a hand wash or add to a delicate machine cycle.
  • This luxurious liquid is the perfect alternative to dry cleaning, which is damaging to our clothes and planet. It is also packaged in 100% aluminium with a compostable label, making it infinitely recyclable in an efficient closed-loop system. Perfect alternative to Dry Cleaning: this luxurious liquid provides the perfect results of dry cleaning without damaging your clothes or the environment like traditional methods do.

Handwash Your Lambswool

When it comes to wool items, especially lambswool, we always recommend handwashing them. Washing machines can be very rough and cause the wool to stretch, lose shape, or shrink. 

When you hand wash, you can be gentle and make sure the wool is treated carefully. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with cold water.
  2. Add a small amount of wool detergent, following the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Submerge the lambswool item in the water and gently swish it around. Don’t rub or twist it, as this can damage the fibres.
  4. Let it soak for about 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water.

What If There Are Stains On Your Lambswool? 

No worries, as you can also use wool detergent to pre-treat the stain. Just put a bit of the detergent directly on the stain, then let it sit for a few minutes. Gently rub the stain away, then rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary. 

Use A Consistent Water Temperature

It’s important to keep the water temperature the same while you’re washing and rinsing your lambswool. 

Changing from cold to hot water can shock the fibres, leading to shrinkage.

How To Dry Lambswool Safely

After washing, drying lambswool properly is essential to avoid shrinkage. Here are the things you should do to keep your fabric’s shape:

Avoid The Tumble Dryer

Never put lambswool in the tumble dryer, as the heat and motion can cause it to shrink. Air drying or laying the item flat is the best method.

SEE ALSO: What Happens If You Tumble Dry Wool?

Press Excess Moisture Out Gently

Instead of wringing the wool, which can stretch and misshape it, lay the item flat on a clean towel and gently press down to absorb the water. 

You can also roll the item up in the towel to get more water out, but remember to be gentle.

Dry It Flat

Place the lambswool item on a clean, dry towel, and reshape it to its original dimensions. Avoid hanging it up to dry, as the weight of the water in the wool can stretch it out of shape. 

Let it dry naturally in a flat position.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can fade the colour of lambswool and make it dry too quickly, which might lead to shrinkage or stiffness. It’s better to dry it in a shaded, well-ventilated area.

Additional Tips For Maintaining Lambswool

Lambswool isn’t really cheap, and with quality that good, it’s normal that you’ll want it to last for a long time. 

Here are some tips to keep your lambswool items in the best condition:

  • Store Properly
    When you’re not using your lambswool items, store them in a cool, dry place. Avoid plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and lead to mildew. Instead, use fabric bags or wrap the wool in acid-free paper to protect it from dust and pests.
  • Use A Wool Comb
    Over time, lambswool can get little balls of fuzz, known as pilling. A wool comb can gently remove these and keep the fabric looking neat and tidy.
  • Rest The Wool
    Wool needs time to breathe and return to its original shape, so give it a rest between wears. This is especially important for lambswool clothing, as it helps to maintain its shape and texture.

If you’re not sure how to clean your lambswool item or you’re worried about damaging it, taking it to a professional cleaner who specialises in wool can be a good idea. They have the right equipment and expertise to clean it safely without shrinking or damaging the fibres.

Do you have questions? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does lambswool shrink?

Lambswool shrinks because its fibres are like tiny springs that can get tangled up and change shape when exposed to water, heat, and movement, especially during washing.

Can I put lambswool in the dryer?

No, you should not put lambswool in the dryer, as the heat and tumbling action can cause it to shrink and lose its shape.

What happens if you machine wash lambswool?

Machine washing lambswool can be harsh, causing the wool to stretch, lose shape, or shrink due to the agitation and varying temperatures in the machine.

How do you wash lambswool without shrinking it?

To wash lambswool without shrinking it, use cold water, a gentle wool detergent, and handwash the fabric gently without rubbing or twisting. Ensure the water temperature is consistent throughout the washing and rinsing process.

How do you fix shrunken lambswool?

Fixing shrunken lambswool can be challenging, but you can try soaking it in a solution of lukewarm water and gentle conditioner or wool detergent, then gently stretching it back to its original shape and size while it is damp before laying it flat to air dry.

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