Fleece Washing!

I spent all of Saturday washing a very small portion of a Suffolk fleece.

For relative sizing, this is a 17 quart tupperware and I did not manage to get all of the fleece in this bin washed. Washing the fleece by hand is a very time consuming but rather pleasant experience.

On the recommendations of an experienced shepherd at Black Sheep I laid the locks out on cheesecloth with all of the tips facing the same direction and then rolled it into a long tube, secured with string. I was working at the picnic table out on the deck at my MIL’s house in the shade so I wouldn’t roast.

I then submerged these rolls plus a mesh re-purposed orange sack in two other tupperware tubs full of hot water and Dawn Dish Detergent.Luckily my MIL has a utility sink that I was able to hook the hose up to so I was able to get hot water straight from the hose rather than having to boil water up to fill 17qt tubs!

I let it soak anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on whether it was the first soaking or a later one (and how long it took for me to remember that I was soaking it out there when I went off to do other things!). I changed the water and washed the wool three times with each round and then rinsed wool once.

This is the difference between unwashed and washed fleece!

It’s a BIG difference! The tips are still a bit brown and from what I have read, that is normal….so I think I will just cut them off. If anyone else has any suggestions I would love to hear them!

You can spin your wool to get most of the water out in your washer, but my MIL was not excited about lanolin getting in her washer even though the wool is mostly dry, so I air dried them on the tupperware lids.

While I was working I had this not-so-little one for company.

Jake, on the left, is a full grown border collie! Belle is only around 9 weeks old! Man, oh, man is she going to be HUGE!

What is your experience washing and processing fleeces? Do you have any fun stories, interesting tips, tales of woe? I’d love to hear them!


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