Can You Dry Clean Wool? Everything You Need to Know

October 5, 2023
A Woman Holding Folded Clothes

With winter right around the corner in Carmel, Indiana, it’s time to dig out all your cozy wool sweaters, scarves, and mittens from the back of your closet. But woolen garments are not like your regular t-shirts. You can’t just toss them in the washer with your jeans. Wool fibers are delicate and can easily lose their shape or get damaged if not cared for properly. Not to mention the moth larvae that love to snack on wool!

So, start by giving your woolens a good inspection. Look for any small holes or worn areas that need mending. Next, consider freshening them up with a gentler touch.

At Universal Cleaners, we offer specialized cleaning services for wool items to keep them in tip-top shape for years to come. We use eco-friendly cleaning agents to preserve the integrity of the wool fibers. If there are any stains, our spot and stain remover process can take care of them all.

Can I Dry Clean My Wool Garments?

Yes, you certainly can dry clean wool — and sometimes, you really should. Wool is a natural fiber that is quite sensitive to heat and water temperature. So, washing your sweaters, jackets, and coats in a regular machine can result in shrinking, warping, or even felting (this is where the wool becomes matted and dense) of the material. Nobody wants a wool sweater that looks like it’s been stretched to kingdom come.

The dry-cleaning process works wonders on delicate fabrics like wool. Good dry cleaners use a special solvent that is gentle on the fibers but tough on dirt and stains. Plus, the process keeps the wool’s natural oils intact, so your garments come out feeling soft and looking as vibrant as the day you bought them.

Can All Wool Be Dry Cleaned?

You are probably okay giving your chunky knit sweater to be dry cleaned, but what about the finer, more expensive wools? After all, not all wools are created equal.

Here is a brief overview of different types of wools and how they should be treated:

  • Merino wool: This soft, luxurious wool is the go-to for many sweaters and base layers. Dry cleaning is your best bet if you don’t want to ruin the wool quality.
  • Cashmere: Lush and delicate, cashmere absolutely benefits from professional dry cleaning to maintain its elasticity.
  • Lambswool: This one is softer than regular wool but can be a bit more sensitive. You can get it dry cleaned, but make sure the cleaner knows it’s lambswool.
  • Mohair: Mohair wool is commonly used in scarves and suits because of its shiny luster. It’s best to dry clean it to maintain its natural sheen.
  • Alpaca: It’s similar to sheep’s wool but much warmer and not as scratchy. Dry cleaning is generally the safest way to keep it in good condition.
  • Shetland wool: This is a rougher, more durable wool. It can be dry-cleaned, but it’s also more forgiving if you decide to hand-wash it.
  • Boiled wool: Boiled wool, as the name suggests, has already been shrunk so you can definitely get it dry-cleaned, though it might not need it as often as other wool fabrics.
  • Tweed: Tweed is generally mixed with other fibers, so check the label. Dry cleaning is okay, but frequent cleaning may affect its texture.
  • Virgin wool: Virgin wool shrinks very easily since it has not been processed much. We recommend being cautious and consulting with a professional dry cleaner first.
  • Wool blends: Generally speaking, most blends can be dry cleaned without any issue, but it also depends on what the wool is blended with. Again, always check the care label.
Woman Holding a Stack of Folded Laundry

Benefits of Dry Cleaning Your Wool Clothes

If you’re still debating whether dry cleaning in Carmel, IN, is a good option for your wool item, here are a few reasons that make a strong case in its favor.

It preserves the quality of the fabric

The fibers of wool are sensitive to any changes in temperature and pH levels. A regular machine wash with store-bought detergent — even on a delicate cycle — can cause them to shrink or warp. If the tags on your favorite sweaters say “Dry Clean Only” and you wash wool clothing with excess water, it may destroy the integrity of the items and make them unwearable.

Dry cleaning, on the other hand, uses specially formulated solvents that maintain the wool’s natural color and structure.

It removes stains effectively

Ever spilled red wine on a wool scarf or sweater? Traditional washing might set the stain, but dry cleaning solvents can break down complex stains like wine, oil, and ink. Universal Cleaners uses a spot and stain removal process that targets these stubborn stains without harming the fabric.

It gets rid of the odors

Natural fibers like wool and cotton tend to hold onto odors more than synthetic fibers. So, if you have a wool coat that has absorbed some funky smells from body odor, food, or perfume, the distilled solvents used in the dry cleaning process can remove them all.

At Universal Cleaners, we use a hydrocarbon solvent — DF-2000™ Fluid — which is made from organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon atoms. It is not only effective in removing a variety of odors, but it is also better for the environment compared to more traditional — and more toxic — solvents like perchloroethylene (“perc”). Unlike other aggressive cleaning agents, our solutions are perfect for garments made of wool, lace, silk, and cashmere.

It extends the longevity of your garments

Wool can easily break down when exposed to harsh detergents or that rough tumbling in a washing machine and dryer. Not only can it lose its color when washed frequently, but wool also loses its shape when wet.

The chemicals used in dry cleaning are less likely to cause color bleeding or fading, so your garment looks new for longer. The drying process also helps the garment maintain its original form since it never comes into contact with water. This is especially important for fitted items like coats or tailored trousers.

It is more convenient than doing it on your own

Hand-washing wool takes a lot of time and effort. You need to use cold water and special detergent before letting the garment lay flat to air dry. Most dry cleaners, including Universal Cleaners, offer a 24-hour drop box and free pickup and delivery service. All you need to do is drop off your wool clothes anytime and have them returned to your doorstep.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I dry clean my winter coat?

It should be done at least once a season or more regularly if it is visibly dirty or stained. More frequent cleaning can wear out the fabric, so try spot cleaning for minor stains.

How do I store my winter garments during the off-season?

Store them in a cool, dry place. Use garment bags for items like coats and suits. Make sure to clean your garments before storing them to prevent set-in stains and odors from mold or mildew.

How do I keep my winter garments moth-free?

You can put mothballs or lavender sachets in your closet, drawer, and storage area to repel the moths. For people who don’t like the idea of pesticide-filled mothballs, small, rectangular pieces of cedar wood also work as great natural repellents for moths. But keep in mind that moths are attracted to sweat and food residues, so clean the garments before storing them.

Do down jackets need special care when dry cleaning?

Yes, they do, because the filling is made of duck and geese feathers. Our professional dry cleaners take great care to ensure the feathers remain evenly distributed post-cleaning.

Man Working on a Dry Cleaning Store

Need Same-Day Dry Cleaning in Carmel, Indiana? We Can Help.

At Universal Cleaners, our standard turnaround for most winter wear items is two days, but we also offer same-day service if you drop off before 10:00 a.m. If you have questions or concerns, check out our dry cleaning FAQs or send us a message online. You can also call our laundry experts directly at (317) 983-5962.