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Can You Wash Wool Blankets?

Wool blankets on the woven basket.

I have to admit, I never understood the appeal of wool blankets. The higher price tag had me wondering, is it worth the price? I stuck with my tried and true cotton and flannel blankets, and ignored wool. 

Then, I ended up with my first wool blanket. Once I tried it, I fell in love. It is moisture wicking, which means you won’t end up sweaty. It’s incredibly warm, thanks to its natural air pockets. 

Once I began my love affair with wool, I realized I didn’t know how to care for it. Could I toss it in the washing machine? Should it be dry cleaned? Can you wash a wool blanket?

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Can You Wash a Wool Blanket?

A cup of coffee and folded wool blankets.

I learned that you can wash a wool blanket, but you must follow certain guidelines to avoid damaging it. 

You should only wash a wool blanket when it’s absolutely necessary. If not cared for properly, your blanket can be ruined. Washing can cause it to warp or become felted. Using high heat can shrink the wool, which will also ruin the weave. 

When determining if you can wash your wool blanket,  you should check the label.  Most wool blankets can be washed. However, if the tag says dry clean only, it’s best to take it to a dry cleaner. 

The good news is that wool blankets don’t need to be washed very often. There are other ways to clean the blanket. The less you wash it, the longer it will last. 

Caring for a Wool Blanket

Wool blankets on a basket beside the sofa.

I love having my linens and blankets clean. It’s a treat for me to climb into a bed with clean sheets. There’s nothing more indulgent than pulling a freshly washed blanket over my body, and enjoying the fresh scent and clean feel. 

However, when it comes to wool, you don’t want to wash it often. However, there are ways to care for your blanket in between washings. 

Get Some Air 

Those natural air pockets that make wool so warm can also help you keep it clean. Before you decide to wash your wool blanket, air it out. 

Start by shaking the blanket, to remove any dirt that may be on it. Then, hang it so it can get air. 

The best way to do this is to hang it outside. This allows the fresh air to penetrate the blanket, which will freshen it up very well. 

If the weather won’t allow you to hang it outside, you can hang it indoors. Aim for an area where there’s plenty of air flow, or place a fan on low near the blanket. 

Brush It Out 

Another way to clean your blanket is to brush it. This can remove lots of embedded dirt, without the wear and tear of washing. 

To do this, lay the blanket on a flat hard surface. Be sure the surface is clean, of course. 

Brush it using a soft bristled brush, going in the same direction each time. This process can often get the blanket clean. 

Combine to Clean 

If your blanket is really in need of cleaning, consider brushing and then airing it. In most cases, this is all you need to do to clean your wool blanket. 

Spot Clean 

Spot cleaning is another option. If your blanket has a small soiled area, spot cleaning is the way to go. To do this, you’ll need warm water and a mild detergent. 

Dish detergent is a great choice. Castile soap is even better. You should never scrub the blanket. Instead, soak the area in warm water. Then, add the detergent to the soiled area. 

Place it back into the water to rinse. Once this is complete, blot it dry with a dry cloth. 

Washing Wool Blankets

Soap for washing wool blankets on the laundry basket.

Before washing a wool blanket, you should ask yourself if washing is required. If the blanket is very dirty, you’ll need to wash it.

If it has a small soiled area or stain, you should spot clean instead. If it looks a bit dirty or smells stale, brush and air it rather than washing it. 

So, you’ve determined that your blanket must be washed. If that is the case, follow these steps to keep your wool blanket in top shape. 

Use the Right Detergent 

First, you’ll need the correct detergent for wool blankets. It’s best to use a wool safe detergent, like Woolite. 

These detergents are designed to be gentle on wool. Regular laundry detergents may cause your blanket to degrade, particularly if used over a period of time. 

The Right Settings 

You’ll want to wash your blanket on the gentle cycle. Your washing machine may have a setting just for wool. If it does, you’ll want to use this setting. 

If it doesn’t have a wool setting, you will use the delicate or hand wash setting. These settings have gentler agitation, which prevents damage to your blanket. 

You should also use cold water to wash your blanket. Heat can change the shape of your blanket, because it shrinks the wool fibers. 

Drying Your Wool Blanket

Drying rugs and blanket on the Clothesline.

Never put wool in the dryer. This is the surest way to ruin it. If it’s only slightly damp, you can hang the blanket to air dry. 

If it’s very wet, you shouldn’t hang it. The added weight of the water can pull the wool out of shape, which ruins the appearance and feel of the wool. 

You have two options for drying a wet wool blanket. One method is to lay the blanket on a flat surface and allow it to dry. The best method is to lay the blanket flat, and then place a towel on top of it. 

Roll the blanket up with the towel. The towel will soak up much of the water. You may need to do this several times, with more towels. 

After you’ve soaked up the water, you can allow it to air dry. 

Air drying your blanket outside is an excellent way to freshen and dry it. However, you should avoid exposing it to direct sunlight. The light can fade the wool. It can also cause it to dry too  quickly, which can ruin the feel of the blanket. Instead of being soft, it will become coarse. 

Types of Wool

Wool is gathered from sheep. The sheep’s wool, or hair, is sheared. It’s then woven into yarn, which is used to create fabrics. 

Since sheep are not harmed during the process, wool is a sustainable fabric. There are different types of wool that you should know about. 


One type of wool is lambswool. It’s made from lambs, or young sheep. The first time a sheep is sheared, it’s considered lambswool, or virgin wool. Subsequent shearings are considered regular wool. 


 Melton wool is popular for blankets, as well as waterproof outerwear. The wool undergoes a thickening process, and is produced from English sheep. 


Merino is also very popular for blankets, as well as warm clothing. This wool comes from Merino sheep. 


Shetland wool comes from Scotland’s Shetland sheep. It’s often used to make yarn or knitting, but it’s rarely used for blankets. 

Animal Hair Wool Alternatives

Checkered brown alpaca wool or cashmere blanket.

Wool is a luxurious fabric, and perfect for blankets. However, there are also other materials that you may want to consider. There are many wool alternatives, including cotton and bamboo.

Here, we’ll focus on animal hair wool alternatives. These share many similarities with wool. 


Angora is made from Angora rabbits. They are shaved or plucked to harvest their fluffy soft hair. Angora fibers are hollow. This makes them both lighter and warmer than wool. 


A herd of cashmere goats on the field.

Cashmere is made from cashmere goats. Cashmere is also considered a luxurious fabric, although it’s not quite as soft as Angora. 


Mohair is produced by Angora goats. It’s stronger and more durable than wool, which makes it a great choice for blankets.  


Alpaca fabric isn’t very popular in the U.S., but it certainly should be. It’s warmer than wool. It’s also stronger, and retains less water. These factors make it an excellent choice for a lush blanket. 

Can You Wash Wool Blankets FAQs

Does Wool Shrink in Cold Water? 

Wool shrinks under certain conditions. These include heat, water, and agitation. The more of these factors you have, the more  the wool will shrink. Cold water will not shrink wool. However, heavy agitation and water can. Washing in hot water with heavy agitation will cause the most shrinkage. 

Do Wool Blankets Need to be Washed?

A laundry basket with piles of blanket.

Wool blankets don’t need to be washed often. If the blanket is stained or heavy soiled, it should be washed. If it’s stale or mildly dirty, try airing or brushing it first. 

Can You Unshrink Wool Blankets? 

Yes. To unshrink a wool blanket, place it into a tub full of lukewarm water. Add a generous amount of hair conditioner. If needed, you can also add mild detergent. 

Mix the conditioner into the water with your hands. Knead the blanket gently to bring the water and conditioner into the fibers. After the process is completed, remove the blanket from the water and dry it as described above.