Washing Alpaca Fleece
In 5 Easy Steps
This is just one way of doing it – using mesh bags. There are many ways of going about cleaning a fleece.
- Skirt – Take raw fleece and lay it out on the floor. Take off the very dirty wool around the edge of the fleece and check the rest of the fleece for excess dirt and hay and remove that. Flip the fleece over and remove any visible short cuts. If the fleece is on a skirting table or piece of mesh, shake the fleece like you would a sheet or table cloth. A surprising amount of dirt, grass and everything else will come out.
- Separate – Separate the fleece into smaller pieces, and bundle it up, trying to keep most of the cut ends facing in. Then put the bundles in mesh bags and close the bags with rubber bags or drawstrings.
Note: Some people like to pre-soak a fleece in cold water before washing. This helps to begin to loosen and dissolve the dirt. The presoak works great for uncoated fleeces with dirty tips and wool and red clay on it. Hot wash water will permanently set red clay stains; so the pre-soak can be very important. If you use pre-soak you must be very careful not to agitate the wool when you go to the next step (washing) that uses very hot water. Drastically changing the water temperature combined with agitation will lead to the wool felting; however going from hot water to cold is far worse than the other way around. Soak for 24 hours, then drain and go to the wash cycle.
- Wash – Put hot water in a large tub or washer, enough water so that when the wool is submerged it isn’t too cramped. BEFORE putting the wool in, add enough soap to make the water feel slippery. You can use dishwashing detergent; you want to make sure that the soap is good for cutting grease. Add wool, make sure it is wet, but don’t agitate it or mess with it more then you have to or the wool could felt. Always add the wool to the water, don’t run water onto the wool, this could felt it also. Let the wool sit in the soapy water for around a half hour. Then take the wool out and gently squeeze out the water if you are using a washer just put the washer on the spin only cycle, leaving the wool in, then take the wool out before adding the rinse or other wash water.
- Rinse – To rinse: put water that is not as hot as the first water was, but not cool either (you want to avoid sudden change in water temperature so the wool doesn’t felt) in the tub or washer. Put the wool in for 30 or so minutes. If the water comes out very dirty or soapy you will need to do a second rinse, same as the first. Note: If using the washer, at NO time should the washer be allowed to agitate – if it does, you will have felt!
- Dry – After rinsing the wool, spin the water out using the spin only cycle on the washer. Take the wool out of the bag and lay it out on the towel to dry. If you don’t want to use the washer to spin out the extra water, the alpaca wool will just take longer to dry.