We make use of woolen fabrics in our day to day life, right from below the toes to above the head - carpets to caps. Following characteristics makes wool more useful and comfortable too:
► Wool is one of the most breathable fibers on earth.
► Wool gives comfortable warmth to your body.
► Wool is capable of absorbing moisture and rapidly evaporating it and keeping your body dry.
► Wool can regulate body temperature and humidity.
► Wool is flame-resistant due its natural moisture content and its chemical structure.
► Wool is also recommended to heart patient as it keeps blood pressure low and heart rate calm.
► Wool is durable and keeps its good appearance for a longer period of time.
Besides all these benefits wool demands a high care in terms of buying, using, cleaning and storing. Woolen fabric is vulnerable to moths, dirt, moisture, and general wear and tear. The suggestions below will help to tackle these problems:
GENERAL TIPS FOR MAINTENANCE OF WOOLEN FABRICS:
► When buying a wool product check for the quality, wool mark and read instructions properly.
► Give woolen cloths one day rest after wearing. This will remove the wrinkles and bring to its original shape.
► Hang knitted woolen cloths on shaped hangers with closed zips or buttoned.
► Fold knits gently and keep freely in drawers.
► Use soft brush to remove surface oil on woolen cloths. Use a damp sponge for knits.
► To remove wrinkles keep it in steamy bathroom.
► Dry the woolen garment in room temperature only.
► Regularly check the stored woolen garments for moth.
Wool by its nature has a natural characteristic of shrinkage. Two conditions are responsible for shrinkage: Heat and Water. Wool is hydrophobic as well as hydrophilic. The outside of the wool fiber repels water while inside of the wool fiber absorbs water. So to some extent it repels moisture but after a certain point of getting wet, it starts absorbing water. Such characteristic leads to overlap and cause shrinks.
To avoid shrinks let the woolens dry in a cool place. Stretch out and remove crease when fabric is still wet. Hand wash can be a better option if handled carefully. The American Wool Association labels cloths as SUPER WASH which can be treated with machine wash.
Very few insects are able to attack woolen as it is difficult for them to digest wool. Among the few are: larvae of the webbing clothes moths -Tineola bisselliella and the carpet beetles -Dermestidae. For their growth they require Vitamin B as a nutrient, which they can get from soil and perspiration present in the woolen fabrics. So it is necessary to keep woolens dry and clean in order to avoid their attacks. Larvae are most commonly found under collars, cuffs, and other hidden areas.
Proper and a regular diagnosis of the pest is the first step in exercising control. Furrows or depletion on the surface implies the existence larvae. It is formed because of their habit of lacerating. During heavy infestations, they may create holes.
If you find the woolens like clothing, blankets, and tapestries already targeted by moths, they should be laundered or dry cleaned. Throw rugs and Small carpets can be treated with brush and beaten to remove most of eggs and larvae. Large size carpets and rugs can be treated with pesticides, if labeled for such applications. Treat the base of carpets and beneath chairs, sofas, and tables. Clothing and bedding should always be avoided for pesticide treatment. Pesticides should be applied carefully and after thoroughly reading precautions and instruction on the label and also the details of direction for use.
IRONING WOOLEN FABRICS
Woolens should be pressed using steam. Do not press totally dry woolen cloths. Whenever possible apply on reverse side of cloth to avoid surface shine. If shine is created by pressing then can be reduced by sponging white vinegar on surface of woolen cloths.
Always use a pressing cloth while ironing. If the surface of woolen fabric is slightly parched when pressing, rub gently with an emery board. Hydrogen peroxide in the form of dilute solution can also be applied if it is severely scorched. Test it first on any hidden area.
STORING WOOLEN FABRICS
Keeping woolens clean and dry in storage is the most effective protection. In addition to this make sure that woolens are 100 percent dirt free before packing. Brush the woolen cloths after each wearing. Not only cloths but closets, trunks clean, and dresser drawers should also be clean. Keep woolen fabrics in airtight containers like well sealed bags or trunks with secure lids. Storing at temperature of 40 degrees or lower discourages infestation.
While deciding on cleaning method, label instruction should be referred first. Most of the woolen manufacturers recommend dry cleaning while some for hand wash and very few for machine wash.
Give cloths to a reliable dry cleaner only. Identify if any spots or stains need to be given special treatment.
Use a mild detergent in lukewarm water, dont use hot water. Avoid bleach as it dissolves wool fabric. Soak for four to five minutes and then gently squeeze. Rinse thoroughly with cool water to remove all the traces of detergent.
Dry on a flat surface, reshape if necessary. Do not expose it to direct sunlight or heat. Never use dryer for woolens, it may result in shrinkages.
Garments labeled SUPERWASH can be treated with machine wash and dryer. Set the machine for gentle action at a short cycle and water temperature at cool or lukewarm level. Use mild detergent. Wash each cloth separately. Once clean, they should be gently brushed to restore their original look.
For the best removal, stain should be treated as soon as possible to prevent them from getting absorbed in to the fabric.
Cloths with stubborn stain like paints, dyes, etc should be treated by dry cleaners. Use stain removal solution for stains based on chocolate, oil or make-up. Test it first in any hidden area.
Stains should be removed before pressing otherwise it will set in wool fabrics.