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ideas needed - my wool sweater smells like sheep!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My very nice, new in the package Irish wool cardigan christmas gift from my mother smells like .... a barnyard.
Really! It's unpleasant. Like, so unpleasant my kids won't snuggle with me if I am wearing it. I just hand-washed it in a mild dilution of peppermint castille soap and that helped a little, but my hands still smell like it, and some of the odor lingers.

Any suggestions for ridding the sweater of that smell?? Please?
post #2 of 11
handwash again and again till its gone. Its probably the natural lanoline you are smelling. It protects the wool and also adds to its softness. You can use a lanolin wash when you have removed all the smell to return some unscented lanolin to the wool.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. Now, is it possible to just get everyone used to it, including me? Will it wear off over time? Because money is so tight here I will not be able to buy a lanolin wash in the foreseeable future.

Otherwise, I can rewash it over and over. If I don't add the lanolin back to the wool, what will happen?

TIA!
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
bump
post #5 of 11
If it was a diaper cover, washing out the lanolin would make it less effective at keeping the moisture contained inside the diaper. For a sweater, it's not a huge deal if it has less lanolin in it, unless you're planning to use the sweater as a raincoat.

I would just wash it with shampoo or some mild soap until it smells good and not worry about the lanolin.
post #6 of 11
I'm really kind of a wooly - so I think the smell is natural and normal for very good wool. It would be the type of thing I'd get used to. I have a sweater from BIL that smells like "motor oil" not really but that's how I associate it. I do believe it's the lanolin. I don't wear it when I'm expected to be snuggled, but it's quite warm.
post #7 of 11
The smell is trapped in the lanolin, so you'll need to strip the lanolin to remove the smell. A really gentle detergent may not do that. If you can't get used to it, I'd fill a big sink with hot, hot water and a little dish detergent (I use method or 7th gen), then carefully lower the sweater into the sink. When the water is hot, the fiber can easily be felted, so you need to be careful with it. Just gently nudge it until it's submerged, don't squeeze it, pull it, or agitate it. Once the water is cool, you can swish the sweater around a little, drain the water, and fill the sink again with cool water to rinse it.

Then I'd drain the water, and spin the water out in the spin cycle of your washing machine. Then you can lay it on a drying rack or towels and nudge it into shape.

Your sweater doesn't need lanolin. Lanolin will make it softer and more water resistant, and protect the fibers a bit from wear. But I have wool sweaters that are more than 10 yrs old that I've never put lanolin on, and they're still like new. If it feels scratchy, you can put some hair conditioner or vinegar into the rinse water instead.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post
I'm really kind of a wooly - so I think the smell is natural and normal for very good wool. It would be the type of thing I'd get used to. I have a sweater from BIL that smells like "motor oil" not really but that's how I associate it. I do believe it's the lanolin. I don't wear it when I'm expected to be snuggled, but it's quite warm.
It's funny you describe the smell that way. I like "that sheepy wool smell" (that's what my family calls it), but I recently got some organic merino yarn that smelled a bit like motor oil. I gave it a shampoo, and the motor-y smell is gone. A couple of drops of lavender or eucalyptus eo in the rinse helps, too (and is good for keeping moths away.)
post #9 of 11
now, wet sheep is a different smell from the motor oil. The sweater was a very bulky knit, home-spunny looking, fair trade kind of thing. It came from BIL, looks hand knit, but badly? He would have bought it at some kind of craft fair or small local shop. It's quite warm. It's in the wash now on gentle, we'll see what happens. It's out of style now - long, thigh length. I'll see how much it fulls. It can be a bag if it's destroyed.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the additional replies.

I think I could get used to it, actually, but my eldest dd is quite sensitive to smell and I just don't think she'll ever get used to it.

Now, I think I can rewash it over and over, but with hot water?? Won't that shrink it some? It's already a little too small, and I'm afraid I'll never fit in it if it shrinks at all.

I can try the shampoo route, though; I have some new stuff that would work.

Wish me luck!
post #11 of 11
Can you add some tea tree oil or euchalyptus oil to the wash?
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