How to Make Wool Yarn Soft

Written by heidi a. reeves
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How to Make Wool Yarn Soft
Soften wool yarn before you knit. (Ball of yarn image by kellykramer from

Industrial processing techniques can cause wool yarns to feel more harsh and scratchy than they actually are. If you want to minimise wool yarn's itchiness, you can try a few different approaches to softening the fibres. The level of softness you'll be able to achieve depends on a number of factors, including the spinning method and the wool's micron count (a number that corresponds with the softness of the wool--the higher the micron count, the scratchier the wool).

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Hank of wool yarn
  • No-rinse wool wash
  • Measuring spoon
  • Leave-in conditioner (optional)
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)
  • Liquid measuring cup (optional)

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  1. 1

    Fill a basin with cold water and add about 1 tsp of no-rinse wool wash.

  2. 2

    Place the hank of wool yarn into the basin; push down to submerge it under the water.

  3. 3

    Soak the yarn for 15 minutes.

  4. 4

    Remove the yarn from the water and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Do not wring the yarn, as this will cause it to felt.

  5. 5

    Hang the hank of yarn to dry in an area away from direct sunlight. Choose a space with good air circulation to decrease the amount of time it takes the yarn to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • No-rinse wool wash contains lanolin, an oil naturally found in wool. Restoring lanolin to wool yarn can help it feel softer to the skin, but if you want to soften your wool even further, you can try one of the following tricks.
  • Add a dime-sized amount of leave-in hair conditioner to the soaking water. Condition will increase wool's softness much in the same way it increases the softness of human hair. Be aware, however, that the conditioner's effects will only last as long as it remains in the wool.
  • Vinegar also has a softening effect on wool fibres. It causes the scales on wool fibres to lie flat, which, in turn, will reduce the wool's coarseness. Add 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar to the water in which you intend to soak your yarn.
  • Before you soak your yarn, make sure it's wound into a hank (a big loop of yarn fastened together in several places), otherwise, you'll likely end up with a tangled mess of wet yarn that will be difficult to handle.

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