Learning how to wash your delicate wool the right way and choosing the best lanolin wash can be an overwhelming task at first, but we’ve consolidated the information you need in one place to gently care for and restore your wool garments at home using lanolin wash.
Washing wool at home provides better results when compared to the dry cleaner! Dry cleaners use harsh chemicals that damage the fabric over time. Though many tags may suggest “dry cleaner only,” they are often able to be gently hand-washed at home. The secret is infusing your natural woolens with lanolin to keep them supple, soft, vibrant, water-resistant, and anti-bacterial. A lanolin wash simplifies the process making taking care of your wool garments a more straightforward task.
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Our top picks include (you can read more about each below):
- Eucalan Lavender Fine Fabric Wash
- LANACare Lanolin Replenishing Soap
- Outback Gold Wool Wash & Conditioner
- KnitIQ No Rinse Delicate Wash
What is lanolin?
Lanolin is a waxy substance that sheep produce naturally to protect their wool, akin to human sebum. It gives wool its natural water-resistant and anti-bacterial properties, resulting in protecting the sheep from its environment.
Common uses of lanolin:
- Caring for wool fiber
- Soothing dry lips
- Smoothing face wrinkles
- Calming cracked nipples
Why use lanolin wash for wool?
Lanolizing wool will restore its natural softness, water resistance, and antibacterial properties, thus extending the life of your wool garments.
Dry-cleaning or washing with regular or even gentle detergents strips away lanolin from wool, but a lanolin wash will restore your wool with some lanolin each time it is washed.
Adding lanolin back into your wool can:
- Help make wool more water and dirt resistant
- Reduce fiber shedding and extend the life of the wool
- Make coarse wools feel softer and reduce static
- Ensure lingering moisture will not lead to fungal growth
When to use lanolin wash
Wool (cashmere, merino, angora, etc) does not need to be washed after each use. Simply airing out your wool garment for 15-30 min should remove unwanted smells or odors. If you notice that smells linger or the garment becomes soiled, a gentle wool wash is your best fix.
Lanolin wash restores the lanolin in your wool while cleansing soiled fibers, but you may still need to lanolize with pure lanolin from time to time if you are using wool diaper covers. You’ll know if a wool diaper cover needs more lanolin because it will begin to leak or smell bad quickly.
You may want to wash your wool with a lanolin wash if your wool:
- feels coarse or itchy
- has an odor even when fully aired out
- leaks and no longer repels moisture
- seems lifeless and doesn’t retain its shape well
Can you wash wool with regular detergent?
You can buy pure lanolin to lanolize your garments as needed by measuring, mixing, and then treating your wool after it’s been cleansed, but lanolin wash removes the extra work and is ready for use in one go with no pre-wash required. If using lanolin wash for wool diaper covers, you may still need to lanolize your wool covers in addition to washing depending on your preference, but it would be needed far less often.
Lanolin wash for wool is superior to generic grocery store wool washes, which often still strip the lanolin from the wool.
How to wash wool with a lanolin wash
To hand wash wool garments:
- Shake the lanolin wash bottle well and add into a large bowl or sink
- Fill the remainder with room-temperature water.
- Submerge the wool garment and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Gently press the wool garment down and swish it around a couple of times (do NOT over-agitate or use hot water: your wool will shrink and may begin to felt!)
- Drain sink or bowl.
- Rinse lightly, if desired (rinse not necessary with some wool soaps).
- Press out excess moisture then roll the garment between two towels, do not rub.
- Dry by laying flat out of direct sunlight for up to 24 hours.
To machine wash:
- Select Hand Wash/Delicate cycle. Use only cold or tepid water.
- Add lanolin wash.
- Load articles into the machine and start the cycle.
- Lay flat to dry out of direct sunlight for 24 hours.
NOTE: Never machine-wash wool garments unless specified it is safe to do so
Does lanolin wash need to be rinsed?
Most lanolin washes are available as no-rinse solutions, but if using a wool soap that requires rinsing, you should follow the recommended instructions and rinse.
Lanolin vs vaseline
Some people think of vaseline as a substitute for lanolin. However, vaseline should never be used as a substitute for lanolin to treat or care for wool.
In short, vaseline is an occlusive while lanolin is an emollient. Emollients have been shown to resemble lipids found naturally on the skin, improving the rate of barrier repair. Occlusives simply form a barrier on the skin and moisturize by preventing the evaporation of water.
How we chose our best
We researched various lanolin washes against several factors so you don’t have to! All of our top picks…
- Have been specially formulated for wool
- Gently cleans & softens all washable wool with amazing results
- Successfully replenishes lanolin to the wool fiber
- Leaves no oily film or blotches when used correctly
- Are excellent for delicates, sensitive skin, and baby items
- Are both machine and hand wash
From there, we ranked our top picks based on reviews, quality of ingredients, formula, ease of use, and eco-friendliness.
What is the best lanolin wash for wool?
Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash
PRICE: $15 USD (at time of posting)
FRAGRANCE(S): Unscented, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Grapefruit, Jasmine
Why we love it:
- No rinse necessary
- Non-toxic and “quickly” biodegradable
- Neutral pH
- Available in 5 scents
- Naturally scented with only quality essential oils
- Unscented is available for sensitive skin or noses
- Very gentle on baby clothes and skin
- Free of optical brighteners, phosphates, synthetic fragrances, and dye
- Packaged in an easy-to-recycle, dye-free HDPE plastic bottle
LANACare Lanolin Replenishing Soap
PRICE: $23 USD (at time of posting)
CONSIDER: rinsing required
Why we love it:
- Contains 7.5% lanolin, higher content than most other wool washes
- No perfume or coloring ingredients
- Beneficial for people with skin problems, such as sensitive skin, rash, or even psoriasis. It has been used successfully as a shampoo & shower gel by people with psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Outback Gold Wool Wash & Conditioner
PRICE: $17 USD (at time of posting)
FRAGRANCE(S): Blueberry Blossom/Orchid (floral scent)
Why we love it:
- Rinse optional
- Also works well as a general laundry solution for babies and those with sensitive skin
- No harsh chemicals
- No synthetic fragrances or perfumes
- Includes Aloe and Coconut Oil for extra softening
- Australian tea tree oil provides additional antibacterial and deodorizing properties.
- Eco-friendly and biodegradable, safe for all septic systems
- Neutral pH and enzyme-free solution
KnitIQ No Rinse Delicate Wash
PRICE: $20 USD (at time of posting)
FRAGRANCE(S): Lavender Citrus
Why we love it:
- Initially popular with knitters and crocheters, but now known as an excellent wool wash for all!
- No rinse
- Pump bottle for a clean measure and less waste
- All natural, plant-derived, and biodegradable ingredients
- Phosphate-, dye- and parabens-free