Wool is a sturdy, natural fiber made from the fleece of sheep. In items made from virgin wool, the fibers have never been processed before. Virgin wool can be difficult to clean because it is not easily penetrated by water or detergents. The cells of the wool fibers naturally overlap, much like the shingles of a roof, creating a tightly packed surface; as a result, water tends to roll right off. While this is handy for the sheep, it is not quite as useful for anyone trying to wash a wool sweater; for the best results, wash virgin wool by hand in cold water with mild detergent or baby shampoo.
Spread the unwashed woolen item across a brown paper bag and gently smooth out any wrinkles. Use a pencil to trace the contours of the item onto the paper before washing it. Once the item has been laundered, this template can be used to reshape the garment, ensuring it is restored to its original size.
Fill the kitchen sink with cold water. While the tap is running, add 2 tbsp. of baby shampoo or mild liquid detergent and swish the water gently to distribute the soap.
Lay the garment on top of the water and allow it to drop into the soapy solution on its own. Once the item is fully submerged, let it to soak for 15 minutes. Gently swish the garment a few times, then remove it from the water and set it aside. Do not twist or wring the material as this can distort the shape of the fibers.
Fill the sink with clear water. Place the item on the top of the water and, once again, allow it to sink. Wait five minutes, then remove the garment. Press down on the material to gently squeeze the water out.
Place the item on a dry towel, then roll the towel into a tight cylinder to remove any excess moisture. Unroll the towel, remove the item and use the paper template to reshape the garment. Dry flat out of the sun.