The wool seems to thrive with regular but not constant sun exposure (just like people!). Wool naturally neutralizes itself – it could be considered a “self-cleaning” fiber as it releases odors quickly. Sun and air your felts at least twice a year.
When washing the felt becomes a necessity, try one of………..
THE ‘NO SHRINK’ WASH METHODS
Soiling and dirt washes out of wool easily. To avoid shrinkage, we recommend the ”foot washing on a roll’ method, or for the felt mattress pad (half thickness and lighter in weight), the ‘wash in the bathtub’ method.
For thicker, heavier felts, like the bed felts, use the
‘Footwashing on a roll method’
(this is a traditional Persian method for washing wool rugs)
For the layered felt bed, only the “protection layer” (top layer closest to the body) needs to be washed. Wash only when necessary.
For the ‘footwashing on a roll’ method you will need:
PVC plastic pipe, 3″ in diameter and long enough to accommodate your felt with about a foot to spare on either side of the felt. These are easily available at your local hardware or lumber yard. Queen felt requires PVC pipe approximately 7′ long. King felt requires PVC pipe approximately 8′ long. You will need approximately 10 to 15 gallons of hot, soapy water.
- Begin by laying felt out flat on an outdoor, clean surface, such as a cement pad or a cement driveway. Wet the felt with the warm soapy water, using a garden watering can.
- Roll felt onto the PVC pipe snugly, and secure the roll by tying with cotton or wool cloth strips at 5 locations along the roll, using a half bow for easy release and re-use.
- Use some kind of support bar or several chars to support you as you foot stomp along the full length of the rolled up felt. Stomp every inch of the upper section of felt, back and forth several times , then turn a quarter turn and repeat until you have gone around the whole roll once or twice.
- Use soap free water to rinse felt. Follow the same method of foot stomping, turning the roll 4 times until the felt has been fully rinsed.
- Lift one end of the roll to rest on the bar or chair and let it drip dry for an hour or so.
- Unroll the felt to lay flat on the clean cement pad to dry.
- You can stretch and shape the felt a little while wet.
- Dries quickly. It feels good to lay on a moist felt. Try it sometime.
For less thick, lighter felts, you can also try….
‘The bath tub method’
Fill tub a few inches deep with slightly soapy warm water. Press wool felt into the water, saturating it completely. Let the felt soak for a half hour. Knead and swoosh it around to remove the soiling. Drain the tub. Fill tub again a few inches deep with non-soapy, clear water for rinsing. Swoosh and knead the felt until the soap is removed. Let the water drain out. Leave the felt in the tub to continue draining for another half hour – or more. Ring out the water occasionally. Pull the felt out of the bathtub when it has had a chance to fully drain and dry a little so it is just moist.
Now lay the felt flat on a floor (that can handle moisture) and let it dry. The felts dry quickly. While still moist, stretch the felt if necessary to the desired size. There should be very little shrinkage from the start measurements, if any.
Voila! Clean felt!
Finish by sunning and airing if desired.
Note: With constant use, the new felt will begin to ‘pill’ (tiny balls form on the surface of the felt where there is the most contact). This is unavoidable. Before washing (once or twice a year), take the little pillings off by hand. With each washing the felt will pill less and less.
from Eliana and the HeartFelters