SKIRTING AND WASHING YOUR FLEECE
There are many different ways to wash wool. Some choose to use their washing machine, others their bathtub, some choose to wash before spinning, others wait until afterwards. Some don't even use soap, and simply let their wool soak and ferment.
Leaving the grease in the wool will make it difficult to dye later, and the grease can also ruin the carding cloth on a drumcarder or carding combs. Some hand spinners prefer "spinning in the grease" and then cleaning the fibre when setting the twist into the yarn.
Fill a big basin with very hot water. Add liquid detergent or dish soap (about a cup). Any liquid detergent, without bleach should work fine. However, avoid using products with conditioners, because they can leave a filmy residue on fibre which will impede the carding process.
Gently put your fleece in the basin. Gently press the fleece down into the soapy water and let soak until the water has cooled down (for about 45 minutes).
* Do not allow running water to run directly on the fleece!!! This would cause the fibres to felt. Always put the water in first, then the wool in second.!
* A nylon mesh laundry bag can be used to help contain the fleece for lifting but the more open the fleece can be in the water, the cleaner you can get it in fewer wash and rinse sequences.
*To prevent the fleece from felting, avoid the urge to knead the fleece or handle it excessively when it is in the water. Also between rinses be sure to fill the next tub of water at the same water temperature you are taking the fleece from.
Lift the fleece out and set it aside.
Fill the basin with very hot water again. Put the fleece back in and let soak for about 30 minutes.
Lift the fleece out again and determine if the fleece is clean enough to dry. If fleece is especially fine or dirty, you may need to repeat the wash and rinse steps a few more times. Mohair often needs multiple washes as does merino, rambouillet and sometimes other finer wools.
Step 6 (optional)
Use hot water with about one-half cup of white vinegar and soak fleece 30 minutes for the last rinse.
*I do not do this method, but I know many fibre artists who do*
Gently squeeze out the water from the fleece and spread it to air dry on a towel or drying rack.