Washing Fleece – What Do You Use?

Finn Fleece
Finn Fleece

I bought two fleeces at Maryland Sheep and Wool, a Finn and a Corrie Cross. Now I have to decide how I want to wash them.

I originally wanted to compare two wool scours, Unicorn Power Scour and Kookaburra Scour.

Then I listened to the Modern Wool podcast on wool scouring, and I’m not sure that I shouldn’t just use Dawn or clothing detergent.

Then I went back and reread Sarah Swett’s blog post about scouring fleece (she uses Kookaburra), and I swayed that way again.


It’s a scour off!


Both of my fleeces are pretty middle of the road as far as staple and fineness so I feel like I can do some experimenting. My Finn fleece is about half the size of my Corrie X.

What I think I’m going to do is wash my Finn in Kookaburra (I like the idea of no rise), and split my Corrie in two and compare Unicorn and Kookaburra head to head.

That is, of course, until I ask all of you, how do you wash fleeces?

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Jillian is the​ author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor​ of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts. She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing. Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com

12 thoughts on “Washing Fleece – What Do You Use?

  1. Jill

    I use Dr.Bronner’s. It’s low foam & the lavender scent gives it a nice clean but not perfume-y smell. I started bc I already buy it in bulk & the less products filling up the space under my counters the better. I’ve always been happy with the results even with the greasiest fine wool.

  2. Susan K

    Everyone you talk to will have a different best washing agent. It really depends on the chemistry of your local water as far as I can tell. I use cheap dish soap, but the major thing is to use hot enough water and not let it cool while you’re washing. Unicorn claims that it works in not as hot water, but I haven’t been that lucky. So try all the methods, see which works best for you.

  3. bittenbyknittin

    I have scoured only one fleece, using Power Scour. I am signed up to take “Scour like a Boss” at the Michigan Fiber Fest this August. Should be informative!

  4. Penelope

    I have found that Finn doesn’t tend to hold together in locks and it tends to … well, ‘felt’ is too strong a word, but the butt end can get a bit stuck together in scouring, leading to more combing waste. Although maybe that’s just me! The less the fleece can move around, the better. I haven’t had the same problem with Corriedale. Do you know what it was crossed with?

    I use Power Scour because it’s so highly recommended by American spinning writers, but few people I know do – it’s insanely expensive here in Australia. It has worked for me with tap-hot water (and ours is not terribly hot) and I’ve discovered it’s also magic at removing cat pee, so it has earned its keep by saving various things from having to be thrown away, including a suitcase and several wool duvets. Perhaps after this bottle has finished I might try something more economical.

    Despite the name, I don’t think Kookaburra is available here.

  5. Karen Severn

    A couple of years ago I did a huge road test on many products washing the same large fleece in 250 gram lots. I used many products, specific fibre washes, different brands of dishwashing detergent including Dawn, dog wash and human hair shampoo. This experiment took place over 3 weeks and I would secretly label the individual lots and ask some of those at my spinning group for their opinions. The main reason for me embarking on such a venture was to compare Unicorn Power Scour with all these other products (11 in all). I had to do this prior to investing in this product. It did come up trumps so now I feel confident in recommending and selling Unicorn Products, This is not meant to be a sale pitch just my experience.

  6. Dawn

    I’ve used Dawn dish detergent, Unicorn Power Scour and Kookaburra – I found the Kookaburra to have a chemical-y smell that clung even after the wool was dried, so I gave that away. I tend to use Dawn dish soap for alpaca, and save the more expensive Unicorn Power Scour for my fine wools with lots of lanolin. I love the Power Scour – it does a great job.

    My newest experiment is a fermented suint soak, which I will follow with a power scour wash, hoping to save on the soap, and not have to wash my greasiest wools multiple times. (Last week I washed some beautiful superfine merino, four times to get all the lanolin out… EEK!)

    As Susan mentioned, the most important thing is to make sure your water is no less than 160 degrees, and don’t let it cool to below that!

  7. Lee

    A timely post – I too have been washing a fleece I bought at MD Sheep and Wool. I think what I learned so far is that it depends on how dirty the fleece is, what breed, how much lanolin, and your own water quality and washing set up. I bought a Shetland that is much finer and more greasy than ones I’ve worked with in the past. My methods that worked with Romneys and more primitive Shetlands are not working as well here. I tried Orvus and that worked pretty well on the last batch.
    But thank you for the links, now I have a few more ideas to try—only a few more pounds to go…

  8. Candace

    This might fill some with horror, but with a really greasy fleece, I might add a small drop of ammonia to the first soak. Then continue with Unicorn. The final rinse will be a brief soak with a small amount of vinegar. I’m still experimenting.

  9. Leslie F

    Generally, I use Orvus Paste because it is readily available. I recently had the opportunity to compare it with Kookaburra Scour. I liked the feel of the wool (still had some lanolin in it) after using the Kookaburra, and the tea oil scent.

    With Orvus, the wool was whiter and there was very little lanolin. Orvus is not scented.

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