While felt is a versatile fabric used for crafts, clothing and bedding, it's not the easiest fabric to clean. Always follow the care instructions on a garment tag, regarding washing felt items. Although you can wash felt in a washing machine, you should only wash it on delicate or gentle cycles. Without proper care, felt can fade, shrink and lose its shape.
Each time you put felt into a washing machine, you risk damaging the integrity of the fabric and altering its color and shape. Only wash felt in a washing machine to eliminate odors or when the garment has become soiled to the point that it requires a complete washing. For small stains, use mild soap, cool water and a clean rag to blot-out the stain. Never rub felt with a cloth too harshly; you can distort the fabric and dull the color.
Pre-Machine Washing Treatment
Before you put felt into the washing machine, try to remove dirt and debris manually with a soft bristle brush. Lightly go over the entire item with the brush to loosen dirt and then wipe it away with a clean cloth. If you don't have a brush, softly run your hand over the item to feel for food particles or dirt and carefully scrape it off. Remove as much debris as you can before you put the item into the washing machine.
Washing Machine Settings
No matter the color of the felt item you're washing, set the machine to run with cold water on a gentle cycle. Hot water can fade felt and a regular wash cycle can twist felt, causing it to lose its original form. Place the felt item into the machine alone without other fabrics. Use only a mild laundry detergent and pour in enough for the load size.
Never put felt into a dryer after you remove it from the washing machine. Instead, carefully wring out felt to squeeze out excess water after it finishes washing. Lay the item down flat, making sure no creases exist, on a clean towel to finish drying. Depending on the thickness of the fabric, it can take as many as 72 hours for felt to completely dry.
Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.