After you open that box of beautiful mohair you ordered, you realize that now it’s time to prepare it for spinning! And that means washing it.
How do you wash mohair to get it ready for handspinning?
To wash mohair, remove the debris from the mohair, use hot (not boiling) tap water and fiber wash and rinse until water runs clean then dry the mohair.
While the idea of washing mohair can be a little daunting, no worries, it’s actually fairly easy! Especially since mohair will not felt like wool.
You can have your mohair washed in about an hour, most of which is hands off time, and as soon as it dries, you are good to go!
How To Prepare Mohair For Handspinning (Combing and carding) shows you the next steps in getting your mohair turned into yarn!
Pick through the mohair
The first thing to do is to pick through the mohair to get out any little extra bits, like VM (vegetable matter) that are in the fleece.
There will be some, just pick out what you see. I find anything from little lengths of hay stems to small pieces of leaf.
You also are likely to come across little bits of dandruff. Pick these out now.
I left them in figuring they would wash out, nope, still there. Now I have to pick them out as I come to them when I’m spinning!
It would have been less work to take a bit more time at the beginning and get as much of the dandruff pulled out as I could.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a huge amount, it’s more that the pieces of dandruff are stronger than I figured, so they are holding up rather than crumbling!
Sort off any short cuts
If there are any short cut fibers, sort them off. There really should not be any overly short sections, but like with any shearing, short or second cuts can happen.
There is nothing wrong with a shorter section of fiber, I just find it easier to pull off anything that is substantially shorter than the rest of the fibers.
These will be shorted out in the combing, so leave them in if you want, but if you pull out any short cuts now, it makes less fiber to wash.
Don’t pick apart the fiber
While you want to pick out any junk, you do not want to pick apart the mohair, even if it kind of looks messy to you now.
Keep the lock structure as intact as possible. I know that some of the parts of the fleece can look a bit jumbled up, just leave it for now.
Later on, if you decide to work with locks, rather than combed fiber, you really can’t reform locks once you pick them apart, so don’t pick any more than you need to.
You might not have plans to work with the locks, but before you decide for sure, check out some of the lock spinning or core spinning videos. It’s super neat stuff.
I just made some chain plyed Falkland with mohair locks put in as I plyed. It is really great! The idea came from The Tiny Fiber Studio with Beth Smith.
This is just one option, there are a ton more, but the point is that once you start pulling the mohair apart you change some of your options.
7 Tips To Make Spinning Mohair Easy gives you a few things you can do to make sure your mohair yarn turns out nice and soft!
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Use hot water, at least 140*
You are looking for some pretty hot water, at least 140-160. The heat helps to move out the grease, so you want the right temperature here.
Don’t go overboard and use boiling water, that can damage the mohair, you just want hot tap water, not boiling.
I use water straight out of the tap. I just run the hot until it is really steaming, then fill the container I plan to use, which is normally a big stainless steel bowl.
You want to have plenty of room for the water to work it’s way into and around the mohair, giving the mohair plenty of space gives the grease somewhere to go.
Unicorn Power Scour is the wool wash I use on raw fleece. Occasionally, I also use a drop or two for wet setting yarn.
Put your fiber cleaner, like Power Scour or another brand you like, into the water first, before the mohair!
Put the Power Scour in the water and swish around the water to mix it in. Now put the fleece (in the mesh bag or not) on top of the water and let it sink.
If you have a mesh laundry bag, it would be nice to use here.
It keeps the mohair more organized and you don’t have to worry about leaving any fiber behind in the water when you switch containers to rinse.
For smaller amounts of mohair, you are looking for the flat bag that is like a sandwich bag. Larger amounts of mohair will require the garbage bag sized mesh bag.
I just put the fleece in the water, not using a bag. I haven’t got my mesh bags yet, and since mohair does not felt, I just decided to wash it without the bag.
My next attempt at washing mohair was done in a bag, which made it easy to handle since I knew I wasn’t leaving behind any fiber when I changed the water.
So, do you need the mesh bag? No. Is it nice to have? Yes.
Time your wash and rinse
It’s a great idea to time your wash and rinse cycles. You want to give the fiber wash time to work yet not get going on something else and forget about it!
Ideally, give each wash 20 minutes, then switch to the next step, using the same temperature water.
Here are the steps to wash mohair:
- In a roomy container, put in hot water to give mohair plenty of space
- Put cleaning agent in water, I use Power Scour
- Swish to mix in Power Scour
- Place mohair on top of water (in bag or not)
- Time for 20 minutes
- Prepare another container of hot water for the first rinse
- Take mohair out of first wash and put in the rinse container
- Time another 20 minutes
- Prepare a second rinse container of hot water
- Take mohair out of first rinse and put it into second rinse
- Time another 20 minutes
- Take mohair out of rinse (and out of the bag, if using one) and spread it out to dry
You may need to wash the fiber twice, mine was fine with one wash and two rinses.
You may also need to rinse more than twice. You are looking for clear rinse water.
The second rinse was clear, so I did not rinse again, but I could have if I felt it was needed.
The second fleece I washed required multiple rinses, but that could be because I washed a larger amount at a time, whereas the first batch was just a handful.
Use a fiber wash to clean the mohair
Please use a fiber wash on your mohair. There are other brands to use, of course, I recommend Power Scour since that is the one the I use and like.
If you like another brand, go for it, just pick something specifically made for fiber, not just dish soap.
Nothing wrong with dish soap, but when I use it it leaves white wool dingy, not sure about mohair. Maybe it’s my hard water, I’m not sure.
Either way, I use the Power Scour to get away from my fiber looking like dingy socks.
I have to admit, I read other articles on washing fiber that suggest using dish soap and even baby shampoo.
Give them or something else a test run if you are interested, just use a small section first, to make sure you get good results before you wash your entire purchase!
Lay the washed mohair out to dry
Your next step is to dry the fiber! I put the mohair in a towel and lightly roll it to get out the extra water.
You can just lay it out if you are concerned about messing up your fiber by rolling it, but it worked just fine for me.
I set the mohair on a milk crate by the heating vent, so the heat would come up through the mohair. It dries pretty quickly this way.
Once your mohair is dry it is ready to use.
Ronan Country Fibers has a nice set of washing instructions you can also use.