today i am scouring jericho's fleece. he is a shetland with beautiful charcoal colored wool.
the wool is submerged in piping hot water with dissolved soap, either orvus livestock soap, or original dawn dish washing detergent (other brands do not effectively cut through the wool's lanolin). the temperature of the water should allow you to put your hands in it, but hot enough that you won't leave them there for long. the wool should be submerged gently, without any agitation, and soaked for 10 minutes or so. it is then moved into a fresh tub of soapy water for another soaking. next it goes through several tubs of rinse, soaking about 10 minutes with each step. the water in each tub should be the same temperature. agitation and a quick change in temperature can cause felting.
after you drain and gently squeeze as much as water out of the wool as you can, put the wool, still in the laundry bag into the washing machine and turn it on the spin cycle. you really should do two at a time so you can balance it. then the final drying time on the rack is very short, especially if you have a warm dry day. i bought this nice big drying rack at a yard sale. mark bought the screens i am using at another yard sale after he caught me taking our screens out of our windows to use on my drying rack. he loves to help me out like that! :o)