Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
You can absolutely wash your wool coat, but you can't wash it like you do your cotton T-shirts and undies. Throwing it in the washing machine is a big no-no. The fibers will be destroyed, and the coat will shrink down to child-size proportions. You have two options for the coat: dry clean or hand wash.
Your wool doesn't need to be washed often. In fact, once or twice per year is plenty. Wool has an outer coating that is waxy in texture. It's called an epicuticle. The epicuticle makes the wool fibers water resistant, which means they can withstand rain and won't absorb body sweat like other fibers. Wool also has an antistatic property, which means it doesn't attract dust and dirt like other fabrics will.
If you're going to send your coat to the dry cleaner, all you have to do is pick up the bill. If you want to wash your coat at home, you'll need to make sure you have the right supplies on hand. You'll need a gentle detergent. You can buy a laundry detergent that says it's wool safe on the label, or you can use dish detergent or baby shampoo. You'll have to have a laundry tub or a plastic tub that fits your coat. And you'll need lukewarm water. Make sure never to use hot water, it can shrink the fiber.
Washing a wool coat is actually fairly simple, although it can be a bit time consuming because the fabric is heavy and takes a while to dry. Fill your tub halfway with lukewarm water. Add in detergent. Use your best judgement on the quantity. If the water isn't sudsy, it's too little. If the water is all suds, it's too much. Put your coat in the water and fully submerge it. Gently squeeze the coat to let the water and soap penetrate and then let it soak for three to five minutes. Take your coat out and lay it aside, empty the dirty water out of the tub and fill it with clean lukewarm water. Gently squeeze the coat to rinse it out. You may have to repeat the rinsing step more than once to get all the soap out. Remove the coat and gently squeeze it over the tub to remove excess water. Never ring it out. Lay it flat to dry and allow two to three days for the wetness to evaporate.
Wool Care Tips
There are few things you need to know to make sure your wool lasts as long as it's supposed to. Never expose wool to direct sunlight for drying, it will fade the color. Never rub wool against itself, this will cause pilling and damage to the fabrics. Spot clean your coat with white vinegar and rinse the spot with cool water. If your wool wrinkles, hang it in the bathroom while you take a shower. The steam will release the wrinkles.