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How to Wash Your Popia Hat by Hand

While most people are terrified to wash wool hats and sweaters by hand because they think they’ll shrink, we at Popia advocate that you do. Garments knit from merino wool are naturally anti-microbial and stain resistant and need only to be washed when visibly soiled. Washing wool hats, sweaters and socks by hand is gentle on the environment and quite simple if you know how. “Green” dry cleaning is our next choice.

Here’s a step-by-step description of how to wash your wool hats and sweaters. The first thing to keep in mind is that the combined agitation of wet fabric and soap mats and shrinks i.e. “felts” wool knits, not the temperature of the water. Wet wool needs to be handled gently as the fiber is weakest when wet and easily disturbed. Unless you want to felt your wool garment it’s important to use a mild detergent rather than soap. Soap has a high alkaline ph content and will scour the wool fibers and help mat and shrink the fabric. Dish washing liquids like Ecover, Seventh Generation or Dawn (with the blue label) work well. Dawn is used to clean birds caught in oil slicks because it doesn’t damage their feathers so it is fine for wool.

Start by running hot water into a sink or tub, but not so hot you can’t plunge your hand in comfortably. Add a squirt or two of mild detergent; using the same amount you would to wash dishes. Swish your hand around the sink a couple of times to blend it with the water without creating suds. Next, lay your garment down on the surface of the water and very, very gently push it down into the bowl to wet it, or you can just let it sink by itself. Do not rub, scrub, scrunch or wring it. Just let it soak. The hot water and detergent will pull out dirt, grease, wood smoke and pet dander without your help.

Let it soak for at least 15 minutes. Longer is Okay. Drain the water from the sink without handling the garment or gently reach under it and pull the plug. Once the water is drained gently push down on it with your palms to remove excess water. Then carefully lift the lump of wet wool and place it in another container. If you you’re using the bathroom sink you can transfer it to the bathtub for this step. Wool is most fragile and susceptible to felting and stretching when wet so it is important that you transfer it carefully. Resist the temptation to wring or squeeze the water out.

Rinse out the dirty sink and fill it again with hot water, this time without detergent. Place the item back into the sink the same way you did the first time, and let soak again for another 10 or 15 minutes. Repeat the rinse process two times or until the rinse water is clean.

Place a towel on the counter or floor and gently move the garment to the towel and arrange it so that it is smooth and flat. Roll it up in the towel and press hard to remove the water. We suggest kneeling on the roll for better leverage. Never twist or ring the towel – just press. You’ll need a couple of towels so you can repeat this step again. Once the excess water is removed and the garment is just damp, carefully place it on a dry towel and gently pat it back into the same shape it was before it was washed. Wet wool stretches so be careful that your hat or sweater isn’t wrinkled or skewed to one side or the other because it will dry that way. Make sure the hem is straight.

Some people like to use special netting racks designed for drying sweaters. These are great because your sweaters will dry more quickly. Be patient because it can take a couple of days for a sweater or hat to dry depending how heavy it is. Check in on it periodically to flip it over.

Popia takes no responsibility for washing mishaps. We accept returned garments that have not been worn and still have their tags attached. Please see our return policy.