Holy Lamb Organics

What About Washable Wool? August 29 2016

We get a fair amount of questions about cleaning our wool bedding and what the difference is between the wool that we offer verses "washable wool". This post shares detailed information about why we use the local clean, fluffy wool (and organic cotton) instead of the "washable wool" option. 

Research fuels our practices here at Holy Lamb Organics, including product design, and fiber purchasing. So, we continue to take stock of the wool market and industry, but also the processing of wool resources to determine whether or not the latest would really be the greatest for our customers and for our world.

Based on our findings, this is how we roll
We stay away from the more processed wool that take a lot of water, chemicals and transportation resources to create. We found a fantastic local lofty wool that is minimally processed, yet soft to the touch for our natural bedding products. By minimally processed, we mean our mill only uses ecologically friendly, bio-degradable, organic soap used to clean the wool combined with mechanical cleaning. That's it. Pure all-natural un-treated wool raised domestically is just how we roll.

This is an image of natural un-treated wool and human hair compared microscopically. Note the raised cuticle "scales" or "burrs" on the wool. This is where all the magic happens.
A little of what we found about washable wool
"Washable wool" requires pre-shrinking and smoothing of the natural wool fiber to ensure a smoother feel and no more shrinking of a wool product (for regular machine washing). The pre-shrinking is done largely with chemicals. One could ask if this washable product is still wool if the microscopic properties that make wool so unique are removed.

There are a few things to note: 
1. The use of chemicals is needed to modify the fiber itself and remove the elements that actually create the loft and the highly-desirable moisture wicking capabilities of natural wool. First the wool is treated with chlorine to remove the tip of the cuticle scale and then the fiber is coated in a thin polymer coating. This enables the fibers to slide past each other and not felt.

2. The chemical treatments and rinsing of the wool creates wastewater with toxins. The chlorine reacts with carbon-based compounds to create organohalogens (AOX) - highly toxic compounds which poison waterways for both humans and animals.

Patagonia claims: "Because the wastewater from the wool chlorination process contains chemicals of environmental concern, it is not accepted by water treatment facilities in the United States. Therefore all chlorinated wool is processed in other countries, then imported." (Found on Patagonia.com  Fabric: Chlorine Free WoolAlthough a super-wash treatment facility, which utilizes chlorination is operating in Jamestown, South Carolina, hopefully operating with stringent wastewater treatment.


There are new treatments which by-pass the chlorination process. They use new technologies and advancements to reduce water consumption for rinsing and scouring, and eliminate toxins being put into the world's water. But again, so far it's a rare and slow integration. And, the new processes still require, polymer coatings or large chemical, water, and energy inputs. 

We really want to retain all those wonderful natural wool benefits while we're conserving water resources; gas, emissions, chemical inputs, and effort in transportation. We want to minimize wool processing all around. We feel so fortunate to have found such a high quality source of local eco-wool right here on the West Coast.

With the right know-how, you can care for un-treated wool. Read on to learn how:

 
Let's talk cleaning and maintenance of natural wool bedding
Cleaning our wool and cotton bedding is a little different than tossing, say, a polyester blanket into a washing machine, but it's still manageable and all the benefits of wool, from wicking to warmth, stay intact inside our safe and natural bedding. 

Simply refresh your bedding
  • It can be as easy as laying out your comforters, pillows and toppers in the sun on a gorgeous summer day.
  • Leave them out for a couple of hours, then flip them over to sun and cleanse the other side. 
  • Sunning actually does quite a bit for your bedding. It will naturally deodorize, bleach, disinfect, and revitalize your bedding. Give it a try - we still have a few good sunny weeks of summer left.
Need an extra copy of our care instructions?
Sometimes life throws you messy situations, and you need a stronger solution. We have prepared a set of washing instructions which we include with every purchase. We are also available by phone to guide you through the care and cleaning of any Holy Lamb Organics product.

Do you need another copy of the care instructions for your bedding? Email a request and we’ll send it ASAP. (Consider bookmarking our FAQ page for emergency cleaning options...just in case)

If you have additional questions about cleaning, sunning and refreshing your bedding, send them and we'll answer those right away too.


Reviewed by Oprah and Featured on World News
Reviewed by Oprah and Featured on World News