How to soften wool yarn

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether it's after a few years of washing your favourite sweater, hat, scarf or other woollen item too many times, or you've miscalculated how your new knitting project was going to feel with frequent use, it's disappointing to have to resign yourself that your knitwear is too scratchy. Though you can buy products made specifically to soften wool, there are things you can do with products you may already own to achieve the same result -- whether it's with a clothing item or wool yarn before you've begun to knit or crochet.

Fill your sink basin or bath with 948 to 1185 ml (4 to 5 cups) of lukewarm or cold water -- depending on the size of your wool yarn item.

Add in gentle shampoo or cleanser, if the item needs to be washed. Otherwise, mix in conditioner until it dissolves. You can add in 1 tbsp of white vinegar if you're washing first, to take the rough edge off the soap, though it's up to you and your situation.

Squeeze water gently through wool fibres and swish around in the conditioner solution for a minute or two. Then, let it sit for five to 10 minutes.

Press out the water again, and do not rinse out.

Roll yarn or clothing item out on a towel and place another towel on top. Press it down to get as much water out as you can. Then, lay it flat on top of another towel to air-dry.


Don't rub or wring out the wool, as you may distort it. Always keep your water temperature the same, or felting can occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring cup
  • 2 to 3 towels
  • Sink basin or bucket
  • Hair conditioner
  • Mild shampoo or delicate wash detergent
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (optional)
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About the Author

Anna Graizbord has been writing since 2000. She is a contributor to the blog Broke Ass Stuart and has written for other blogs such as Stylequest and Frank151. Graizbord graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in women's studies from California State University Long Beach, and studied Italian and art history at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy.