Below is a technique used by Fiber Artist and Cashmere breeder, Lisa Zeitz in washing finer fibers. The washing instructions cover how to wash sheep wool and fine goat fiber.
Thank you Lisa, for permission to use this helpful information on our website.
Basic Washing of Fibers
I use a net bag for finer fibers. Polyester material or a fine garment bag.
1. Put hot** water and soap into two of the buckets and clear hot water into the third bucket.
2. Supporting the wool, lower it gently into the hot water, and weigh it down if necessary with the plate.
3. Put timer on. Really greasy fleeces need more time, but also need heat to clean out lanolin. This will take about 15 or 20 minutes depending on how cool the air is where you are working. 10 to 15 minutes for finer non-greasy fleeces.
4. When time is up, remove plates.
5. Put hand under fiber to support it and gently pull the fleece up out of the water. With hand still underneath, gently compress the fleece down to squeeze out excess dirty water. DO NOT WRING.
6. Set fleece in second bucket of water and watch to see how much dirt is coming out. Gently weigh down fleece.
7. Put on timer.
8. Wash out empty bucket, fill with water the same temperature that is in the buckets you are working with right now.
9. Determine whether you want a third soapy bucket. If so, add soap to the third bucket. If not, this will be your first rinse bucket.
10. Continue process of moving and placing fleece in buckets until the water runs clear. Keep in mind that compressing gently to get water out helps the process along but be careful not to agitate as it can then felt the fiber.
11. When clean, remove from water and compress excess water out. Lay in netting, over bucket or hang in netting outside (or some other place where dripping water is not an issue) just not in direct sunlight. At intervals, you can fluff and rotate to aid in drying.
That's the gist, here's the tricks....
Some people will keep the fleece in a bag, and put it into a washing machine on the spin cycle to remove the water. Just don't let the washing machine add water!
Don't dump lanolin water down your drain.
**If water gets too cool on sheep's wool, the lanolin won't wash out. So you need to start with very hot water. If water gets too cool, you can slowly raise the temperature of the water while the fleece is in there, by adding hot, hot water slowly and gently down the side of the bucket while carefully holding the fiber away and to the side so it is not agitated by the water movement.
NEVER run water into the bucket with fiber already in it, or pour water over fleece. Felting is done with water, soap, and agitation. You already have two in place, be careful not to add the third!
The consistency of water temperature is important. Going quickly from one temperature to another will shock the fiber...and thus felt it!
Fine fibers that are not really dirty can be done in small buckets in small amounts if you want. They rarely need more than two soaps, and sometimes one. The water temperature is not as critical to start with if there is no lanolin. But consistency of water temperatures is.
I use Dawn dish washing soap for sheep
fleeces. Shampoo or dish soap or Orvis can be used for finer
fibers. I sometimes add a little vinegar to my final wash.