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Taking Care of Wool so it Does Not Shrink

How Wool Yarn is Made

Wool is a very common material that is made into yarn and other products that then get turned into clothes and things we use on a regular basis. Most people know that wool comes from sheep, but just how much work goes into taking wool from a sheep and turning it into a wool sweater is lost on many people. It is quite the interesting process:

Shearing the Sheep

Once a year when the cold weather ends, sheep farmers shear their sheep to remove the wool, so it can be processed into wool yarn and other materials.

Cleaning the Wool

Before anything is done with the wool it must be washed to remove dirt, debris, oils, and other contaminants that cannot get into the finished products.

Carding the Wool

This is a process that pulls the wool fibers through fine metal teeth to straighten them and make them soft and fluffy like the wool we often picture.

Spinning the Wool into Yarn

Spinning turns the wool pieces, twists them together into long threads of yarn and experts can create different kinds of yarn that deliver unique final products.

Weaving and Knitting

Yarn is then sold to consumers or to manufacturers who will use it to weave and knit and make other items that we think of when we think about wool products.


Wool quickly absorbs water, so it can very easily be dyed any color imaginable, making it a popular choice among those who like to use natural products.

Tips For Preventing Wool From Shrinking

Wool is a wonderful natural product that can be used to make a variety of beautiful pieces. One of the biggest drawbacks to wool sweaters and other pieces is that they can shrink and stretch out of shape very easily. This one issue prevents many people from enjoying wool clothes as much as they would like. So, here are some tips and some clever ways to keep wool from shrinking to help combat this issue:

1. Do Not Machine Wash

The speed and friction of even a gentle machine wash cycle combined with the soap and hot water can cause your wool fiber to mat together and become felted and stiff.

2. Use a Cold Water Soak

It is best to soak wool yarn or wool items of clothing in cold water up to10 minutes before washing as this can go a long way in preventing the wool from shrinking.

3. Gently Squeeze When Washing

Wool should be gently moved through the water when washing and rough spinning or scrubbing should be avoided with only gentle squeezing under water being used.

4. Do Not Wring or Twist

Never twist or wring out water from wool or wool items as this can greatly damage fibers and lead to items becoming stretched out and ragged looking.

5. Rinse Repeatedly In Cold Water

Hot water causes shrinking, so only use cool water and gently move the wool through the water, changing out rinse water as needed to remove all soap.

6. How to Stretch Wool Back Into Shape

Before drying wool items such as sweaters, you need to lay it out and gently pull it back into shape so it can dry, and the fibers can remain in the right shape and position.

7. Dry The Sweater Flat

Now that your favorite wool piece is clean, all you need to do to dry flat in its natural shape is to dry in a warm area out of direct sun and not under a direct heat source.

BONUS: How to Stretch Shrunken Wool

If one of your wool pieces has shrunk and gotten too small to wear easily, simply soak it in cold water, gently remove the water and block it back into shape as outlined above to try and reform the fibers of the wool.

With these handy tips in mind, you can more easily care for your favorite wool items and keep them looking their best every season. Wool is a wonderful material that is safe and natural and much more sustainable and is much more eco-friendly than most synthetic materials used in clothing today. Its popularity and more wide-spread use is often deterred by shrinkage and other issues associated with improper cleaning and care. But with these tips, you can take care of that wool sweater or stretch your shrunk wool more easily. So go get that sweater or those socks or other wool item that has caught your eye and see for yourself how wonderful and easy it can be to enjoy wool, when you understand the right way to care for it! Now you know how to keep wool from shrinking!

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