Spinning Frequently Asked Questions
Q How / Should I wash (scour) a raw fleece?
A A raw fleece is very dirty and you should wash it to at least take out the dirt and poo.
Straight off the sheep, fleece contains a lot of lanolin (grease). A gentle wash will take some of this out. Whether you wash more thoroughly (scour) and take out more of the lanolin is a matter of preference. Some people like to spin wool 'in the grease'.
You must take care not to felt the wool. The ideal conditions for felting are a change of temperature, soap and movement. When you scour your fleece, you will need to use soap and hot water, and so it's vital to keep movement to a minimum. Putting it in net bags will help. Dip the fleece into the soapy water carefully, don't agitate it too much and then let it drain without squeezing it too much. Make sure that the rinse water is the same temperature as the previous water.
Don't even think about using the washing machine to wash the fleece.
However, an effective way to drain out most of the water is to put it into the washing machine on the slow spin cycle. Put the fleece into old pillowcases if you're not already using net bags. It will then take some time to dry naturally. Leave it outside if you can and turn it occasionally.
There are products available which claim to gently and effectively take out dirt and grease, but ordinary washing-up liquid or cheap shampoo will do the job.