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Wool Washing Instructions

There is a lot of information below.  My preferred method in summary:

  1. Machine wash in cool water
    1. Regular cycle is fine
  2. Use Unicorn Beyond Clean for deep clean
    1. Mix 1 tbs with hot water to dissolve first and put into wash water or dispenser
    2. yes seriously 1 tbs is enough
  3. Do a secondary rinse and spin with Unicorn Beyond Soft Conditioner
    1. Mix 1 tbs with hot water to dissolve first and put into the rinse water or dispenser
  4. Lanolize your wool if using for Diapering after this process is complete
    1. Find lanolin and instructions here
  5. Wash with Unicorn Beyond Fiber Wash every so often
    1. Removes excess urine salts and food debris
    2. A gentle clean without washing out lanolin
    3. Use the same method above

These products are all unscented, there is also a lavender scented line as well that can be used

Most people think that washing wool is extremely challenging, and in most cases this is the truth, but not Bumby.  The wool that we use is special, it was designed especially for cloth diapers and contains lycra.  The lycra allows the wool to felt or shrink only so much, then it is hard to make it continue to felt further.  With mild temperature changes and gentle agitation your wool should not shrink, if you dump it in a vat of boiling water and beat it with a stick I am sure you could felt it if you tried.

But lets keep it simple, Bumby wool can go in the machine.  I highly recommend using Unicorn Clean Products.  I have spent many hours speaking with the owner and using their products.  The chemistry, testing, long time history and customer service speak volumes.  We have partnered with them to use Unicorn Beyond Clean (a deep cleaning unscented detergent) to prepare our wool both before and after dyeing, then using the Beyond Soft (an unscented  fabric conditioner) to soften and prepare the wool for you at home.  I am so happy with the results and feel of our wool.  We are selling the 16 oz bottles on our site, but find a retailer near you as well with their other range of products as well.  1 Tbs does a whole full load, so use very little on a few pairs of pants!

Hot or warm water, some water types, some soaps and some oils can be harsh to the wool dyes.  It is all about the chemistry, and not everyone gets along.  Cold water is always best for dyes, but warm water is best for cleaning.  The less additives the better, fragrance and essential oils are not recommended.  Lots of people use regular laundry detergent or dish-soap to wash wool.  Just because it says wool wash doesn’t mean it works.  I have found personal success with Unicorn Wash and that is what I recommend.  We have honed our dyeing process over the years and have far less issues than ever as well.

Adding a splash of vinegar or a pinch of citric acid to the wash water can really help with the chemistry, wool likes an acidic environment


I can not stress this enough.  Many are using far too much soap and not rinsing it out well enough.  Hand washing may seem like a more gentle idea, but it leaves debris and soap in the fibers which can cause further damage.  If you insist on hand washing, please use very little soap, 1 tsp and rinse a lot.


Always wash each item separately or like colours together in the machine

Colour Catchers from your local laundry department are handy

Some water types and soaps can cause wool dyes to break the bond with the fabric causing bleeding. We heat set everything and check it for bleeding before it gets shipped.

If the dye does bleed, follow these steps to re-set your dye:

This is for interlock wool from all brands.  Thankfully Bumby doesn’t usually have bleeding issues as we have gotten it all down to a science, because it is.

Semi-stovetop Resetting Wool Dye

1 Put a large pot of water on to boil

2 Clean out the sink really well with warm soapy water

Do this step just before adding boiling water so the sink is still warm

3 Put dry or warmed wet wool into sink

Wool should be clean

To prep you may want to wash with dish soap/ beyond clean and spin out in the washing machine to remove excess dye and oils.

Pouring boiling water over cold wet wool can cause felting.  The wool is best to be warm if wet or dry

Wool should be inside out

5 Add about 2 tbs of citric acid or about ¼ cup of white vinegar

6 Add boiling water to the clean, warmed sink to cover wool and allow movement

7 Gently swish the wool in the water for about 1 minute, the water should start to fade in colour

8 Let sit for a couple minutes and swish again.

9 More acid can be added if the water is still coloured

10 Let sit in the water for at least 10 minutes, as the dye needs time in the heat to properly set

you may swish every so often to complete the process

11 Drain the water and let the wool cool

12 Rinse in cool water, I usually wash with dish-soap and rinse and spin in the washing machine to remove the acid

If the water was still coloured, you may repeat this process, but make sure the wool is a bit warm before adding the boiling water.

Some tips for multi-coloured items such as Bolds, two toned wool or other brands

1 I recommend washing the wool in dish-soap then spinning out in the machine.  This will get out the unset dyes from the wool rather than setting them somewhere you don’t want.

2 Do these ones right side out as the insides will run together as the transferring of colours might happen, however it is less likely if you machine spin first.

3 Add a drop of dishsoap the water, it will allow the water to penetrate into the wool faster and reduce the chance for problems

4 Do not let it sit, keep it moving slowly

5 Have a sink of hot clean water beside the dye setting sink.  Hot tap water should be fine.  If there is an excess of dye that comes out of one colour, take it out immediately and get it in the not acidic water to stop that from getting into the other colours.  Rinse and drain and start over.  If you machine wash first this is less likely

It is not recommended to use food prep utensils to dye wool, use your own discretion.