People have been asking about washing fleeces at home. It's expensive to send away to have done for you. BUT it's not too hard to do at home, a little smelly maybe, but the smell goes away. Below is an email that I've copied of a friend asking how i do fleeces. So I have copied it here, pictures another day:
here goes with the washing….the soaking and washing part applies to everything not already washed!!!! The stuff that is picked can go into washing bags, the fleece that is NOt picked can get folded into a ‘washing sheet’-mosquito netting curtains from IKea. about $6 a pair/98x100inches square. when you fold your fleece into the sheet, I arrange the fleece across the short side (ha!) and then squish it together into 1 layer, really thick, in the center third of the sheet. then fold the other thirds over on top of the fleece, then fold the hole package in half again. When the fleece gets wet, it will slide together into a lump in the middle of the sheet, that’s ok. I use the outside ends of the sheet as a handle, so I don’t actually touch the fleece, but I do poke at it with the spoon to kinda spread it out when it gets into the water. It will try to unroll when it gets wet, so I try to arrange it in the tubs so that it doesn’t. Not always successfuly but I try. hmpf. Now ready for ferment and then wash. Everything happens in this package. I don’t actually touch the fleece with my hands until I spread it out to dry. If I am doing a merino or other really easily feltable fleece, I use my bathtub in the house, because I can keep the fleece from squishing together into a ball, so less chance of felting. I will also split the fleece down the back into halves for the same reason.
I usually do a suint ferment on my fleeces right before I wash them. they soak anywhere from a few hours to days to a week in cold water outside during the hot part of the year. Put your wrapped fleece into a tub, cover with cold water from the hose, cover if you like, and let sit till smelly and nasty. Let drain. Keep the water for the next fleece, if you can, or feed it to the roses or fruit trees. The more you reuse that nasty water, the better the washing for next fleece(s). So the fleece is still wet, but draining when I start to wash. If you don’t choose to do this that’s ok, just get your fleece wet and soaked before you start below.
Whatever size of tub you use-sink, bathtub, outdoors tub-the sink can use small squares of plastic window screening edged with fabric on the sewing machine sized to fit your sink, other wise use washing bags. Anyway….fill your tub with hot water, the hotter the better-see below- then float your soap. I use blue Dawn or clear Dawn: 6 or 8 circles of soap around the outer edge of the filled tub-NO BUBBLES, hard to get out of fleece!!! then stir in with a wooden spoon, gently, to mix. then float the bagged/ wrapped fleece on top and push straight down with the spoon. don’t squeeze, and don’t stir!!!! Only push straight down into the water. Let sit for 15 min, tops. You want the water to be approximately the same temp as when you started. Remove the fleece, let drain on the side, while you drain your tub and repeat. as quickly as possible. I wash at least 3 times. If the fleece is extra sticky or smelly, I add a cup of ammonia or 1/2 cup of washing soda to the first wash only. that really helps to cut the lanolin and/or the smell. Then rinse the exact same way as you washed, only no soap. Then open everything up and let dry. I have a 3x8 ft drying rack that I can put together to open an entire fleece in its curtain onto to let dry.
that’s it, that’s all I do, takes a couple of hours to do a fleece, not including the ferment. I am going off-grid in an hour or so, I won’t be available to answer questions til later tonight when I go into town and can get wifi/cell coverage. post a note on the team forum and I will answer when I can. Hope this helps,
ps: I use a home water heater set at 130F to wash. the first wash outside goes to the roses/fruit trees. Everything else goes down the drain. Indoors there is enough coming after to melt the grease plug and keep going. If you have septic, then the same applies. When I am at the farm, I have 140F water and use gloves, same disposal rules apply, especially on septic. the first bath of lanolin can clog! a septic, like grease in the kitchen sink. Also, no enzymes or other ‘protein cleaning agents’ in your detergent. I use detergent cuz cheaper and easier to get. Just straight detergent instead of ‘soap’ : easier to use than soap.