Have you spilt something on a beloved wool garment? Need some help removing the stain from wool? We know how precious woollen clothes and throws are – they are investment pieces, designed to keep you warm and comfortable for many years. But they also require careful attention when cleaning in order to retain their shape and colour. So there’s nothing worse than discovering a nasty stain or mark on them, whether it’s a coffee spill on a wool throw or grease spots on a wool sweater.
Stain removal from wool items can be trickier than from other fabrics because stains set in quicker. You need to treat a stain as soon as you can and avoid heat of any kind until it has been removed as this can fix it into the wool, leaving a permanent mark.
Here’s how to remove the most common household stains from wool. Things like nail polish and paint will probably require specialist cleaning.
1. Treat the stain
For alcohol, coffee, food, chocolate, urine or vomit stains
First blot up any excess liquid or debris using paper towels or a clean, dry cloth. Scrape off anything you can with a rounded edged knife or spoon. Soak a linen cloth (they don’t shed lint) in a solution of half white vinegar and half wool detergent mixed with cool water. Then use this cloth to dab at the stain, working inwards and on the reverse of the garment to stop the stain spreading.
For oily stains
Again, scrape off any excess residue from the spillage. Use a cloth dipped in white spirit to gently blot the stain off, taking care not to rub and working inwards to contain the stain.
2. Soak the wool
Once you have treated the specific stain spot, soak the garment in a sink or large tub in cool water with some wool detergent. Very gently rub the stain, and then rinse until all the soap residue has washed away.
Rinse the item in water mixed with a splash of white vinegar. Once this has run through, keep rinsing until all the vinegar solution has run off.
Smaller items like sweaters or scarves can be wrapped in a towel (linen is perfect thanks to its high absorbency) and gently twisted to remove excess water. The towel should absorb most of the moisture and will protect the wool fibres. If the item is large, like a wool throw or coat, lay in between two towels and press to soak up the water. Leave the item to air dry, making sure it is flat and out of direct sunlight.
5. Seek professional help if needed
Some stains are simply too stubborn, or too old, to be removed this way. A dry cleaner will be able to advise you on whether or not they can get the stain out, and there are stain removal products available to buy if necessary (just check these are suitable for use with wool).