How to clean a wool blanket without dry cleaning

clean wool blanket ecokaren

Practically Green states that “most common chemical used, perchloroethylene aka perc, is dangerous. The EPA says perc causes cancer in lab animals, and is a likely human carcinogen that impacts brain, liver, and kidney function. It’s no good for the environment, either. Yet 85 percent of U.S. dry cleaners use perc (there are an estimated 35,000 of them).” And according to Washington Post, Perc remains in dry cleaned clothes! Yikes!

So why not use “Green Dry Cleaners” then? While they might be less toxic, the chemicals they use is still derived from petrochemicals and are still not that safe.

Do you  know what’s the safest method then? And cheaper? “Wet” cleaning. Really. In fact, I’ve been hand washing “Dry Clean” only linens and silks and line drying them for years.

But I admit; I used to send heavy Pendleton wool blankets to be dry cleaned because I was afraid that they will shrink if I washed them in water. Well, it turns out, I was wrong.

I washed my Pendleton wool blankets in cold water a month of ago and they came out perfect!

I used my non-toxic detergent mixture to wash and rinse the blanket in “COLD” water and GENTLE CYCLE. Then, I used extra rinse to make sure all the soap was rinsed out. Then, I tumble dried it  under “Air Dry” setting for about 20 minutes. “Air Dry” setting has no heat but it just tumbles the blanket to give them a good shake to get all the wrinkles out. I took out the blanket, and draped it over two dining room chairs, like a tent. I let it dry over night in the living room. I don’t know if line drying it outside would be a good idea since I don’t know what the direct sunlight would do.

Anyway, washing it and drying it this way made the blanket come out as if it was “dry” cleaned! No wrinkles. No shrinkage. AND best part? NO CHEMICALS!! And for once, they felt cleaned! Just make sure you don’t do this TOO often as wool might get ‘felted’ and shrink if you wash it too often. I’d wash it once every two years for normal usage.

Have you washed “Dry Clean Only” items before? What have you washed and how did they come out?

*I take no responsibility in how your wool blanket would come out since every wool is different. Yes, this is a disclaimer. :)


  1. john32595 says

    our pendleton blanket got some water stains on it when the roof leaked. i was wondering  what to treat the wstains with and how to clean it with out dry cleaning it. we hate to put all of those nasty chemicals in it.

  2. DrOliviaFranksND says

    i’ve washed two of our pendleton blankets in front loaders on cold but they did blur the pattern a little and some mild shrinking it looks like.  They are ‘car blankets’ that we got as seconds so we weren’t too worried about it.  But I am a little sad as I do love them so much.  So my son’s blnaket I have been scared to launder and was going to do the green dry cleaning but that doesn’t seem like a great choice either.  I might try washing it is the bathtub with cold water – it’s only twin size luckily.  But i think the pattern is discontinued so precious one.

  3. says

    Great post on how to clean Pendleton wool blankets . It’s best to get advise from someone who has tried various procedures and discovered what works best for a particular product. Not all wool products will react the same to a specific cleaning procedure.

  4. says

    We have wool emergency blankets for all of the cars. We wash them in cold in the machine and line dry. Works just fine, though we stretch it out over a couple of lines rather than just throw over one.

  5. deniseinark says

    One more disclaimer: check out some blogs from wool felters. Part of the felting process is that the agitation in combination of the lubrication from detergent causes the wool fibers to mat together- as they shrink the fabric becomes more compact and heavy. Be careful of this process and don’t do it too often because even *just* agitation can cause your wool items to change texture, even if there is no heat to cause the fibers to shrink up.

    • says

      When I felted my wool sweater, I had to use HOT HOT water and wash repeatedly before they got felted…..a reason why I thought felting was a total waste of energy and not that eco-friendly, but that’s another post…

      But you are right; agitating the blanket too much of too often will make them felt and shrink. Maybe I should add that you have to use the gentle cycle. Thanks!!

  6. Jen Haralson - bugbaby says

    This is a great post! I’ve been scared to wash things like wool blankets for fear of felting, but now I’m going to try it. Maybe with your detergent recipe!

    • says

      I think my Pendleton blankets were already tightly woven so they might get felted too much. I know that when I felted my wool sweater, I had to wash them in HOT HOT water and many times before they got felted and shrunk.

      But I washed this blanket in gentle with COLD water ONCE.

      Good Luck!

  7. says

    Thanks so much Karen! I’ve been looking for this info because in Canada we wear a lot of wool! I won’t be afraid to hand wash now!

    • says

      Hi Laurie,

      Just make sure you wash them in COLD with gentle laundry detergent and not too often. Depending on what type of wool, they might shrink a little.

      Good Luck!

  8. says

    Haha! I love the disclaimer! Yes, I have been handwashing drycleanables for years. And, I discovered that natural fibers such as linen, wool and cotton can be laundered in shampoo and your natural hair conditioner works beautifully as a fabric softener.

    Aren’t Pendletons’ the greatest? I love mine.

    • says

      Hi Kathy,

      You know I had to use a disclaimer. :) I heard about the hair conditioner for making clothes soft but never tried it.

      And YES, I LOVE my Pendleton blankets. I have four for all of us and they are great in the winter!

      I’m just glad I can wash them now.

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