Bad kitty!
April 22, 2011 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Can I launder a wool blanket at home?

Miss Monty McPissbottom has peed on a thick wool blanket. I'd like to clean it at home if possible because the last time this blanket was sent to the dry cleaners it came back reeking of chemical odors and felt sorta gross and greasy in texture.

The blanket is black, so there's no pee stain showing. I'm not fussy if the color changes because this blanket has no pattern and is usually out of sight, sandwiched between a comforter and a topsheet. I'm pretty sure it's 100% wool (it sure is scratchy) but it has no label and my dad doesn't remember where he got it before he handed it down to me (my guess: it's army surplus, given that every other blanket at my dad's house is army surplus).

My primary goal to make sure I get the pee smell out so it doesn't attract the attention of the cat again. I have an awesome front loading washer, can I just stuff it in there on a cold cycle? What kind of soap/detergent should I use? Other tips?
posted by jamaro to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Dump some Nature's Miracle on it and let is sit for a while (see the instructions on the package). Then toss in washer with cold water on gentle cycle with a mild detergent. Air dry.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:01 PM on April 22, 2011

Normally I would say don't use detergent with wool, only soap, because you'll make it all scratchy. If it's already all scratchy and you don't mind, fine, use detergent. Just don't use biological washing powder - that's anything with the word 'enzymes' in. The enzymes break down anything of animal origin, e.g. wool (and silk).
posted by Lebannen at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would not wash it in a front-load washer unless it has a specifically-labeled "Hand-Wash" setting.

What I would probably do is use Nature's Miracle as reccommended, then wash it in a bathtub or large sink with warm water and dish detergent.
posted by muddgirl at 12:09 PM on April 22, 2011

Woolite makes a HE version for use in high-efficiency front-loading washers. I'd do the Nature's Miracle and then try that. It's not something I've tried before, though.
posted by magicbus at 12:14 PM on April 22, 2011

Do Nature's Miracle first, before anything else. It's an enzyme and will break down the secretly-attractive smells of the pee. The package says to be sure to use it first, since soaps and other treatments may "set" the smell or make it hard for the enzymes to get in and do their thing.

Then I would hand-wash it in tepid water in the bathtub with Woolite or another wash that is formulated especially for wool. Don't use too-hot water and don't agitate or rub it too much or you can turn it into felt. Rinse and lightly squeeze the water out, then roll it with a series of towels to get out the rest of the water. (Again you want to minimize wringing or hard agitation because it can turn the wool to felt.) Dry flat - you may want to close a bedroom door and let the blanket dry spread out on the bed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I wish I could see this blanket - it's possible that it's already been felted, and thus doesn't really need any particularly delicate treatment. I am also seeing some warnings on Nature's Miracle's website about the fact that it may bleach wool products.
posted by muddgirl at 12:25 PM on April 22, 2011

I've never tried Nature's Miracle on wool, so that may be right about bleaching - you would want to test a strip.

Here is a very informative answer about washing a wool blanket in a front loading washing machine - it's the long answer third or fourth down the page. Explains about blocking, etc; suggests air-drying by hanging on a line outdoors. (Doesn't talk about pee stains though.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:27 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Here's a pic of the blanket. As you can tell from the fine layering of cat fur already woven into it, keeping its looks pristine isn't a super high priority. I'm mostly concerned about super shrinkage or it ending up as a trapezoid.

My front loader (an Electrolux HE) does indeed have a hand-wash setting.
posted by jamaro at 12:37 PM on April 22, 2011

Unscented Soak does a really good job at getting smells out (I use it on stuff covered with horse sweat). It is no-scrub-no-rinse, great for wool, makes things soft. You can use it in the washing machine or if you have one of those giant plastic storage bin things you could easily soak it in that. Then direct sunlight and air dry, the sunlight also kills odors.
posted by anaelith at 12:53 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wash in the bathtub with shampoo and cool-ish water, put hair conditioner in the rinse water. Squeeze as much of the water out you can and hang to dry. Or use the hand-wash setting in your washer.

Shampoo and conditioner will keep the wool soft.
posted by fifilaru at 3:10 PM on April 22, 2011

Seconding wash by hand. I have washed lots of wool blankets (grew up with these). Only use soap powder not anything with enzymes or detergent (Woolite is soap based). Squeeze out the water and spin briefly in your washing machine if necessary. Then hang out on a line to dry.
posted by Susurration at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2011

My experience with wool is that if you get it wet it smells like sheep. The wetter, the sheepier.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:55 PM on April 22, 2011

I have used Nature's Miracle then cold water wash with good results.
posted by mermayd at 4:30 AM on April 23, 2011

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