To clean Pendleton blankets, we recommend dry cleaning. This method best maintains blanket size, hand and appearance. We have tested our wool blankets using different care methods. When washed, the blankets experienced significant shrinkage, even with the mildest care methods. With a gentle cold wash and dry flat care method, blankets lost 3-6" in length after one washing. And the shrinkage could increase with successive launderings. Also, if enough felting and shrinkage occurs, the fabric becomes stiff and dense, changing the soft hand and smooth appearance of the blanket.
To best protect wools from moths, it helps to first know when wools are susceptible to this type of insect damage. Moth damage to wools mainly occurs during storage or when wool articles are not moved or worn on a regular basis. Clothes moths, which are small buff-colored moths, choose dark, quiet, undisturbed places to lay eggs. It's the moth larvae that feed on wool, not the adult moths. Knowing that wools are susceptible to moth damage during storage or inactivity, here are several easy steps that will generally prevent damage:
Brush the wool clothes in your active wardrobe on a regular basis - a lint brush or bristled clothes brush works well for this.
Clean wool articles before placing in storage. Soiled wools (even those which have picked up invisible body oils) are more likely to attract moths. Both dry cleaning and laundering will remove any moth eggs or larvae.
After cleaning, store wools in an airtight bag or container.
Although the above steps should be effective for moth control, some consumers choose to use additional measures for moth control. Commonly-found moth control products on the market include moth balls, moth crystals, cedar (in various forms) and herbal sachets. Both the moth balls and crystals are very effective when used as directed. However, the cedar and herbal products have only limited effectiveness, and only when the fragrance is quite strong. There is also a moth repellent spray called ENOZ Mothproofing which provides good protection for 4-6 months after application. It works especially well for articles such as wool blankets that are hung on display. Since ENOZ is hard to find, here is where you can get it:
Spicers 5 & 10
8859 Ladue Road
St. Louis, MO 63124
Moth holes can sometimes be repaired by reweaving, but before starting the repair process, it would be a good idea to have the wool article dry cleaned. Dry cleaning will kill and remove any unseen insect larvae and should flush out any loose fibers revealing the full extent of the insect damage. Reweaving involves weaving yarns by hand into the damaged areas to replace the missing yarns. Yarns used for reweaving are taken from an inconspicuous part of the garment or from an outside source. Since reweaving is somewhat of a lost art, it may be difficult to find someone who knows how to reweave. It's a tedious process and can be expensive. Look for reweaving services in the yellow pages of the phone book, or by contacting tailors and dry cleaners.
Some staining substances can leave a strong residual odor which remains even after repeated cleanings. There is a treatment that may be effective when standard cleaning methods are not. It is called an ozone treatment and is particularly useful for organic based odors. Ozone treatments are occasionally available through dry cleaners. You can also look for an ozone treatment facility in the phone book; look under "ozone" or "fire restoration" (ozone treatments are often used for the removal of smoke odor) in the yellow pages.
Many dry cleaners can effectively remove blood and other protein-type stains from wools by the use of a digester. This is a wet treatment which uses an enzyme for stain removal, but does not require heat or agitation.
Unfortunately, the shrinkage that occurs in wool is not reversible. The structure of wool fiber is largely responsible for this. The outside of wool fibers are covered with overlapping scales that run in one direction, much like the shingles on a roof. Wool shrinkage occurs when these scales become interlocked from exposure to moisture and agitation, such as during the washing process. Once interlocked, the scales cannot be released due to their physical structure. Attempts to forcefully stretch shrunken wools can weaken and damage the fabric.
A possible exception to the above information is in the case of a wool sweater. Due to the flexible knit structure of sweaters, you may be able to gain a little size back by blocking the sweater (if the shrinkage is not too severe). To block the sweater, gently hand wash in cool water and squeeze out the water. Roll in one or two towels to remove additional moisture. Then lay the sweater out to dry. When you lay out the sweater, try to restore the original shape and size by stretching and smoothing.
Woolens with a soft, fuzzy surface, such as flannels, sometimes have a tendency to pick up lint. In dark, solid colors, any lint attraction is more obvious. Although we can't change the natural tendency of some woolens to catch lint, here are some pointers that might be helpful in minimizing lint attraction:
Avoid wearing dark woolen jackets with light colored, lint producing blouses or tops.
Avoid wearing lint-sensitive fabrics in situations where there would be a lot of contact with lint sources.
Carry a pocket size lint brush or use scotch tape for quick touch ups.
To avoid the lint issue with future wool garment purchases, you might want to consider worsted wool garments. The worsteds, such as gabardines, generally have smoother, more tightly woven surfaces and rarely attract lint (even in dark colors). Worsteds also tend to be lighter in weight, so are comfortable for year-round wear.
Pills are those tenacious little fuzz balls that sometimes appear on our garments. Garments with soft, fuzzy surfaces tend to be more susceptible to pilling. the fibers that create those beautiful surfaces become tangled during wear and cleaning to form pills or matted areas. A good way to deal with this behavior is by regular brushing. This often smoothes out surface tangles before they become severe and more difficult to remove. A lint brush or bristled garment brush are effective on most fabrics. For more delicate fabrics, a natural sponge can be used.
There are a number of other pill removal products available. Sweater or garment combs grab pills and pull them off the fabric surface. Pumice-like bars work in much the same manner, but sometimes leave gritty "crumbs" on the fabric surface. Some individuals use scrubber pads for pill removal. And for very stubborn pills, fabric shavers will usually do the job. It's important to remember to try these products first on an inconspicuous area of the garment; some fine fabrics can be damaged by the abrasion of pill removers.
As a general rule, the Pendleton wool shirts which carry a dry clean care label have not been treated with a washable finish. Consequently, washing can result in noticeable shrinkage and a loss of fabric smoothness. Although washing does not actually harm wool fiber, Pendleton recommends dry cleaning for these garments because this care method is best for retaining the size and appearance of the garment.
In all fairness, we should note that there are a few Pendleton consumers who choose to wash their Pendleton dry clean wool shirts and are satisfied with the results. However, taking this step also means accepting responsibility for any shrinkage and surface change that may occur with this care method. If you choose to wash your wool shirt, several steps can be taken to minimize the changes mentioned above. Gentle hand washing in cool water and air drying will reduce shrinkage, and use of a press cloth during pressing will produce a more attractive fabric finish.
Note of Caution: Tailored wool garments should never be washed. Linings, shoulder pads and other inner materials can suffer irreparable damage when washed.