Our handmade, 100% wool fleeces can easily last for years, maybe even becoming family heirlooms. Wool is an incredibly strong fiber, but at the end of the day, it's hair! Every now and again it will benefit from a little TLC so here's a couple things to keep in mind to keep those fleeces fabulous!
1) Supervise your pets around them, at least in the beginning.
One of the first fleeces we ever sold went to a homesteading house that was bustling with critters. On the very first night the fleece arrived at their house, their cat DESTROYED it. Wool everywhere. I don't know if I was more heartbroken or if the customer was...
On the other hand, my little pal Oaks is totally fine around wool, so it's a case by case basis. Out of caution, I would definitely keep an eye out when your fleece first arrives!
2) Do not machine wash!
Most people know not to throw their wool sweaters in the washer or dryer, and fleeces are no exception to that! They are made from 100% wool and will felt into one big knot if they are not cleaned carefully. So how should you clean them?
One of the easiest ways is to let nature do it for you! It snows pretty often during winter in NY, so I lay my fleeces (and my wool clothes) outside during the storm. If you live in a warmer state or need to wash them during summer, a light rain will work too! After it finishes snowing or raining, I let them air dry; clotheslines are my favorite way to dry them since the wind helps them get all light and fluffy again! And pro tip I learned from Angela at Axe And Root Homestead - hang aromatic herbs and flowers on the clothesline. The scent will waft over the wool and they'll smell amazing!
Another way is to fill up a sink, bathtub, or container with cold water and let it soak for an hour. Gently drain the water and be careful not to agitate the wool in any way! No scrubbing! Follow by air drying.
3) Shake it, don't break it!
Another thing you can do to give your fleece a quick pick-me-up is to shake it. This helps fluff up the wool and is especially helpful for fleeces that are used on the back of chairs or areas where they get squished often. Something to keep in mind - hold it by the rim/edge when you shake it, not the locks.
4) Don't brush them.
Brushing will destroy the lock structure which is what gives locks their individuality and you'll end up with a ball of frizz! All my fellow curly-haired people know the struggle!
Felted fleeces are pretty low maintenance and when you treat them right they can last for decades!
ps. goodness gracious, you guys are going to think "fleece" is my favorite word after reading that lol. Sorry for all the fleeces!!