Ok so this is just a mini tutorial about washing a straight from the field and covered in yuck fleece. I think most people have a good idea what to do but may ( like I used to) lack the confidence to follow your instinct.
The three golden rules I’ve been following, and that seem to work every time are:
1- hot (and I mean as hot! as you can handle) water. Don’t start worrying that it will shrink the fleece, it really won’t if you follow the next golden rule….
2- agitation – as in absolutely none whatsoever. This is the bit that will shrink your fleece, so unless you are after a great big lump of felt be really careful to avoid agitating it at all.
3- time – this may sound silly but when I first came to cleaning a fleece I thought it would help to leave it to soak for quite a while. I soon came to realise that leaving it in the water too long just allows all the grease and dirt to re-adhere to the fleece! The key here is long enough to get it clean but not so long that the dirt re-sticks itself.
These three things plus some soap and you should end up with a lovely clean fleece. This process won’t get rid of the vegetable matter, that comes next when you card it, but you should end up with a grease free fleece.
Dirty smelly fleece
Laundry bag ( or similar to hold the fleece together whilst in the water)
washing up liquid ( I use ecover for this and my felt work as it contains no nasty chemicals)
Somewhere to dry the fleece after wards
Here’s what I do:
Start by filling the tub with really hot water, this needs to be as hot as you can handle having your hands in. Please please please don’t scald yourself! It doesn’t need to be boiling!
Next load up your laundry bag with the dirty fleece. I have a laundry bag but I have no idea where it is so I’ve used an old onion sack here. Any net bag will do. Now really gently lower the bag into the water (wearing rubber gloves through the whole process is a good idea). Push down on the bag to get it to submerge but don’t move it around too much.
Now set a timer for 15 minutes and leave it to do its work.
Once the 15 minutes are up carefully lift out the bag of fleece and empty out the tub of water. I like to give the tub a clean here to avoid any grease getting back on the fleece.
The next part is exactly the same but you are going to add a good bit of washing up liquid to the really hot water in the tub. I should probably say that you should never put the fleece in the tub whilst the water is being added as this causes agitation ( see golden rule 2).
Lower your fleece into the soapy water, set the timer for 15 again and leave to degrease.
The last stage is the same as the first, no laundry liquid just hot water. This the rinsing stage.However, if you feel the water was still a bit murky at the last step just repeat the laundry liquid stage again.
For the rinsing stage just fill the tub with hot water, gently lower in the fleece then leave for 15 more minutes.
The final step is to try and remove as much water as possible. I tend to squeeze it in the laundry bag, then empty it on to an old towel and press as much liquid out as I can. Spread the fleece out in an open plastic basket and leave to dry outside if its nice and sunny, or in a dry well ventilated room if not.
I hope this has been helpful. If you need any help or feel I’ve left something vital out just give me a shout.
Happy degreasing xxx