How Do You Dry Raw Wool After Washing It?

Once you have washed your raw wool fleece, now you need to dry it. Easy, right? Fairly easy, yes, but there are a few things you can do to make your wool dry faster and be sure it stays clean.

Before you get started drying your wool

Before you get started with drying your wool there are a few things that you can do now to make the wool dry faster.

How To Wash Raw Wool will show you the steps you’ll need to plan on taking to get your new fleece to spinnable fiber!

Spin out excess water

You can use the spin cycle on an older model washing machine (spin only, no agitation!) to get the excess water out of the wool.

While this is not a mandatory step, it will make the wool dry faster.

An alternative to using a washing machine spin cycle is to use a spin dryer. A spin dryer is more like a salad spinner, in that it just uses centrifugal force to get most of the rinse water out for you.

If you are only an occasional wool washer, a spin dryer is probably not worth your money, but if you are working with a lot of wool or yarn that needs dried, this is a way to speed up your work.

Looking to buy some straight from the farm wool for your next project? Read 8 Tips For Buying Wool From A Small Farmer for the scoop on getting your next fleece right from the source!

Use a mesh rack

Once you have the excess water out of your wool, now it’s time to place it in the spot where it will dry.

If at all possible, use a mesh rack to hold the wool, rather than something with a solid bottom. Something with a solid bottom will work, it will just take longer.

For the DIY minded, I have seen folks with homemade racks out of 2×4’s and chicken wire or PVC racks and plastic mesh, that could also sit on a counter top for indoor drying.

Any sort of wire shelving, like spare freezer racks would be great here, too.

I end up using milk crates for small amounts of wool that I am drying inside or makeshift drying racks, like dog crates, to get plenty of air movement on all sides of the wool.

drying wool flat on a towel and hung on a fence
Drying wool flat on a towel or, much more creatively, on a fence for plenty of air circulation!

Use a dry towel or sheet

If you are using a towel or a sheet to dry your wool, be sure you use a dry one!

Often times I get the wool out of the rinse water, let it drain, then roll it up in a towel, then dry it on that towel. What? The towel is wet, I should be using a different towel!

Of course, the wool will eventually dry on the wetter towel, but it will, once again, take longer.

For best results, gently roll the wool in a towel or two to get out all of the excess water you can then put it on a fresh towel to completely dry.

Dry wool in the sun

You can take advantage of the natural drying power of the sun and put your freshly washed wool outside to dry.

The great news is that using sunlight is easy and free. The bad new is you may not be getting a sunny day when you want to dry your wool!

A few things to think over if you are planning to put your wool outside:

  • time-it will take a while to dry the wool, you may have to take it in for the night
  • birds-at least at my house, some areas around the trees are “drop zones” for poo
  • wind-a bit of wind helps to dry the wool, gusts of wind can blow it around the yard
  • dust-you just washed this wool, no need to add more dust to it!

The best drying days for me tend to have a bit of wind, which is nice until the wool is nearly dry, then it starts to lift and fold over on itself, rather than completely drying.

I try to plan for the wind by making sure the wool is in a nice area, usually the middle of the lawn, so if it falls off the rack, it’s still clean.

The other tip that I can give you is to check the wool throughout the day, to even out any clumps or keep it in the sun.

Lastly, be sure to take in the wool before sunset, if you wait until the dew is on the grass, then guess where else it is? Yep, on your used to be dry wool.

I have a tendency to forget to check the wool in the late afternoon then remember it at dark, which is, of course, too late!

Any dust in the air will also end up settling on your wool. Since we live in a humid part of the country, Ohio, dust is not a big concern on most days, occasionally, but not normally.

wool drying on milk crate over furnace vent
Here is some of my wool drying on a milk crate over a vent in the house.

Dry wool in house

If you want to work on drying your wool, but do not have a good spot to put it outside, you can always go with drying it inside, especially in the winter when the furnace or fireplace is going.

The good news here is that you do not have the risks of birds or dust messing up your wool, but you will have quite a large area covered with wool that you’ll have to work around.

This is a great time to consider a trip to the hardware aisle for some PVC so you can make your own countertop (or a not take up nearly the whole room) drying rack.

Cats seem to love the wool when it’s dry. Not a problem, if you don’t mind the occasional cat hair!

Dry wool over a vent

You can dry the wool over or near a vent in your house. This is my go to wool drying option, I have to admit.

I tend to put smaller amounts of wool through the washing process, going with smaller amounts just because they are easier to work with and it seems harder to get an entire fleece dry.

Next, I place the wool as thinly as possible on the top of an inverted milk crate that is placed at the furnace vent. It’s that easy.

If I got a little ahead of myself and have more wool on there than I really should, I’ll need to turn the wool over to get all of it dry, or separate some off to another drying spot.

Dry wool in a clothes dryer

Raw wool that you have just washed may be able to be dried in your clothes dryer if the wool is resistant to felting and you can set the dryer to low.

If your wool is one that easily felts, putting it in the dryer will ruin your wool! Be sure you are working with hard to felt wool before you put the whole batch in the dryer, test some first!

Believe it or not, it just dried some of my wool in our clothes dryer!

I know that’s a crazy thing to say and let me explain further, because there are some specifics that are crucial to know before you try it!

First off, I did a small test batch in the dryer, just to be sure.

wool dried in the clothes dryer
This is the Dorset cross ram wool that I dried in the clothes dryer. I knew it was resistant to felting, so that’s why I gave the dryer a try. In the picture on the right, the red and orange are dried in the clothes dryer, the white is purchased Teeswater.

This is a Dorset based wool from one of our rams, so I had an idea of how it would go, but I wanted to test a small amount just to be sure!

Anytime that I have tried to felt this type of wool, it’s a no go, so I thought “let’s give the dryer a shot” when I was running out of daylight after a big dyeing day.

Once I saw that the test batch went well, I dried the rest of the wool that was dyed. My test batch was white, I didn’t want to sacrifice any of the colored wool if this went wobbly on me!

Then, to finalize the experiment, I drum carded some of the wool that came from the dryer.

After all, the purpose is usable wool, so I wanted to see if the dryer knotted it up or made it hard to work with.

It was pretty easy to card, as much so as normal. There were the occasional pieces that twisted around each other, but so far I’ve only seen that twice, the rest of the wool turned out just fine.

How long will it take for the wool to dry?

How long it will take for the wool to dry is completely dependent upon:

  • how much water you were able to get out of it when you put it on the racks
  • how thin of a layer you are using
  • the heat and humidity of the day or your house

So, how long will it take? Sadly, it takes as long as it takes. I know that’s a not so great answer, but it is the truthful one. Plan on hours up to a few days.

I wash wool for drying outside on days when I know laundry would dry quickly: low humidity, at least some sun and maybe a slight wind.

The wool in the dryer was done in 30 minutes or so, but it went in damp, not wet, and was done on low heat.

This was a wool that does not felt well. If your wool is good for felting, steer clear of the dryer!

How To Wash Fleece And Leave The Grease is a SpinOffmagazine.com article on how to gently wash and dry your wool so that it keeps elasticity and life, yet is clean and manageable.

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