How to Clean Icelandic Sheep's Wool

Updated February 21, 2017

Icelandic wool is loved by knitters because of its unparalleled warmth and natural appeal. This is the wool traditionally used to make Icelandic fairisle and bohus sweaters, mittens and shawls. Icelandic wool is available in yarn or as fleece. The washing method is the same no matter what form your Icelandic wool is in. Some Icelandic wool yarns come ready to use, while others are sold with the natural lanolin and oils intact; you may want to wash yarn if it is too oily to knit with.

Take the fleece outdoors. Shake out the fleece to remove as much debris as you can. Use your fingers to pick out leftover twigs, straw and other vegetable matter.

Fill the washing machine with hot water. Add a quarter cup of baby shampoo or mild dish detergent, and swirl with your hand to blend.

Place the fleece in the washing machine and completely submerge it in the water. Do not agitate in any way.

Let the fleece soak for 30 minutes. Turn the washer to the spin cycle. Remove the wet fleece.

Refill the washer with hot water and add a quarter cup vinegar.

Add the fleece and soak for 30 minutes. Use the spin cycle to remove the water.

Remove the fleece and spread on a sweater drying screen or bed to dry, then spin or process as desired.


The cleaning process for Icelandic wool yarn can be used for garments as well. This method will work on other wool types as well, but may not be needed for wool-less oily sheep breeds.


Never use agitation or scrubbing to clean Icelandic wool, it will mat and felt instantly.

Things You'll Need

  • Baby shampoo or mild dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Washing machine
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About the Author

Sarah Emerald is the author of books and magazine articles specializing in crafts, family, business and the home, including Create and Decorate, Hilton Head Monthly and Crafts magazine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from a small private college in the southeastern U.S.