Winters are synonymous with beautiful woollen shawls making an appearance after a long hiatus. Most of them are of fine quality and finish and showcase elaborate designs. However, we have noticed that over time our woollen shawls tend to lose their softness, structure and shape. Old shawls may even carry an odd musty and lingering smell that makes us want to refrain from wrapping them around ourselves.
This winter, we wanted to bring the original lustre, appearance, and softness back to our woollen shawls. After some trial and error, we were able to come up with the perfect solution to make our woollen shawls feel and look like new. Check out the step-by-step procedure we followed for this process.
Check the Garment Care Label
We have learnt that the type of fabric determines the washing method. Woollen shawls too, can be of different kinds- pashmina, merino, angora, blended, cashmere etc. Their care label mentions whether they can be hand washed, machine washed or only dry cleaned.
If the label mentions hand wash or machine wash, then proceed with the steps given below.
- Mesh Washing Bag
How to Hand Wash Woollen Shawls
Step 1: Prepare a Bath of Cool Water
Start by preparing a bath of cool/lukewarm water below 30 degrees Celsius in a basin or sink. We have observed that wool is sensitive to water temperature, and some of our woollen shawls ended up shrinking when we tried using warm water. After setting the right temperature, we added an appropriate amount of mild detergent to the water.
Step 2: Submerge the Woollen Shawl into the Bath
Next, we completely submerged the woollen shawl into the water while gently agitating the water with our hand to make sure that the detergent was evenly distributed. Let the shawl soak in this detergent solution for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Rinse Well
Rinse the woollen shawl under cool running water and continue rinsing until the water runs clean, indicating that all traces of detergent have been removed. During this stage, you may see some colour in the water. But don’t worry, even we panicked when that happened to us for the first time.
However, we realized that this is quite common as it is just the yarn releasing the excess dye. We did not notice any loss of colour from the shawl once the wash was complete.
Step 4: Use a Fabric Conditioner
It didn’t take us much time to realize that detergent by itself is not enough to maintain our woollen shawls. We needed something more to bring back the lost softness, shine and freshness to our old woollen shawls. During the course of our research we came across the term fabric conditioner.
We learnt that a fabric conditioner coats each fibre of the woollen shawl with a protective layer. Thus, it protects the fabric from any damage due to repeated washing. We began looking for the right fabric conditioner to restore our old shawls. As we browsed through the various products In the supermarket, we came across Comfort After Wash Fabric Conditioner. Its label mentioned that along with long-lasting freshness, it could also provide definite softness to the fabric that could be felt and seen.
As per the instructions on the bottle, we added half a cap of fabric conditioner to a bucket of water and soaked our clothes in the solution for 5 minutes.
Step 5: Remove the Clothes and Dry
After soaking, we removed the clothes and laid them out for drying. The label of Comfort After Wash Fabric Conditioner mentions that there is no requirement for rinsing clothes with water at this stage. Also, do not wring out the excess water from the shawl or hang it as it could distort its shape. And, instead of hanging it, we recommend drying it flat on a clean towel away from direct sunlight.
Once dry, one of the first things we observed was that our woollen shawl felt extremely soft to touch, just like how it was when we had purchased it. Also, it was engulfed by a fresh, pleasant fragrance that lasted for a long time, almost 14 days, making us feel that the shawl had been washed just recently.
How to Machine Wash a Woollen Shawl
Step 1: Place the Shawl in a Mesh Washing Bag
Since other garments would also be part of the same load, we suggest placing the shawl in a mesh washing bag. This will help protect the delicate fabric of the woollen shawl from getting damaged by the hooks, zippers or embellishments of other garments in the machine.
Step 2: Select the Right Cycle
Use the delicate cycle on the washing machine or if there is a woollens cycle on your machine, use that. Also, make sure the temperature of the water is cold, and the spin is low. This step ensures that the woollen shawl receives the gentlest possible wash without any excess agitation. Then add a suitable quantity of mild detergent (preferably) depending on the load size.
Step 3: Add a Fabric Conditioner
We added one cap of Comfort After Wash Fabric Conditioner in the softener compartment while we added the detergent as we had a front-load machine. However, in the case of a top-load machine, if there is no softener compartment, add one cap of fabric conditioner at the beginning of the wash cycle.
It can also be added directly into the machine tub during the last rinse cycle, even for a semi-automatic machine.
Step 4: Dry the Clothes
Once the wash is over, remove the woollen shawl promptly from the machine to prevent any creasing. While drying wool, always avoid direct sunlight as it can shrink or damage the shawl
After drying, we saw that fabric conditioner had worked well and that our woollen shawl’s colour, shape and texture remained intact after the wash.
We hope this easy step by step process will help you breathe life back into your old woollen shawls.
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