Washing your Natural Fiber Items the Correct Way!
With the right care, you can expect your new alpaca hat, glove, mitten, or scarf to last almost a lifetime! In fact, knitted items have been found that date to as late as the 11th Century in Egypt.
But to have your items keep performing at their best, they do need a little love from time to time. Unless otherwise noted on the label, your items will need to be washed by hand. Many of our socks are machine wash and dry, but would benefit from hand washing to extend their longevity.
Because alpaca is naturally antimicrobial and resist odors, there is no need to wash after every wear. For most hats (unless you are doing very strenuous activity) we recommend washing every 2-3 months, or at a minimum before you put the item away for the season. For socks, we recommend every 2-3 wears. For gloves and mittens, at least before you put them away for the season, or spot clean as necessary.
No need to be intimidated at the thought of hand washing! The whole process takes approximately 5 minutes of hands on time. Let's get to it!
First, gather your materials: the item to be washed (we are washing this hat today), a bowl large enough to hold your item, a towel, and soap. We recommend using a soap intended for wool or other natural fibers (our favorite is Kookubura wash, which can be purchased on Amazon), a mild hair soap, or Dawn dish soap.
Next, fill your bowl up with water slightly warmer than luke warm. You want to be able to have your hands in it without the water burning your hands. Add the amount of soap specified by your specific brand or a few tablespoons. Swish the soap around to combine with the water.
Place your item in the bowl, and light press to submerge in the water.
The largest concern when washing natural fiber items is felting. Felting occurs with agitation and temperature changes. You want to gently squeeze your items in the water. Try to avoid rubbing vigorously as this may cause parts of your item to felt. After gently washing your item, allow it to sit in the water 5-10 minutes.
After it has rested, gently squeeze out as much of the water as your can. Again, try to avoid ringing or excessively twisting the item as it may cause distortion. If you have used a natural wool wash, you can move on to the next step. If you have used a hair or dish soap, dump the dirty water out of your bowl and fill it up with the same temperature clean water. Repeat the above process to remove any leftover soap.
Once your item has had the excess water removed, place it on your towel and roll it up like a burrito. You are trying to remove as much water as possible. The best way to do this is to place your burrito towel on the floor and step on it several times.
Now that most of the water has been taken away, you want to find a flat place it can finish drying undisturbed.
**A word of caution - CATS LOVE TO LAY ON DRYING ALPACA THINGS!** Ask me how I know this!**
Lay your item flat on a dry part of the towel and allow to completely dry before wearing again or storing. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or so. If it is taking longer than that, have a fan blow on it to help it dry faster. You don't want your items holding on to water for long periods of time as they can develop mold.
It really is as easy as that!