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The Washing and Cleaning of Mohair
Throughout my years of working with mohair and cleaning so many pounds of it, I've tried alot of different ways to make it as quick, easy, and successful as possible. Here's the technique that works best for me;
First, let me tell you that when my ex-husband saw me washing the mohair in this fashion he was not toooooo pleased,.... so I just did this while he was at work :) . Sooooo, depending upon who else in your household uses the washing machine (and their degree of CRABBINESS), you might want to try this when others aren't around.
Fill your washing machine with HOT water. Add about 1/2 cup of a dishwashing detergent (one that will cut grease). Depending upon the size of your machine, add 1/2 pound to 1 pound of mohair. I've always had heavy-duty machines which nicely accomodate 1 pound of mohair. Be careful not to pack too much mohair into your washer because you ideally want the mohair to float which allows the fiber to properly separate therefore allowing more thorough cleaning of individual fibers. I just lay the mohair on top of the water, and then I use the hose extension from my vacuum cleaner to submerse the mohair into the water completely. Of course the vacuum cleaner part is optional; you could use something else in it's place, but I prefer the vacuum hose extension because it is hollow and thick enough to press the mohair down into the water effectively.Be certain at this point to turn the dial to the last spin cycle (the purpose being to deactivate the cycle either by pulling out the nob or pushing it in, depending upon your machine), allowing the mohair to soak. Close the lid and allow the mohair to soak, NOT agitate. You do not want to agitate the fiber or you will have a big felty mess. Yuk. There IS a time for SPINNING (as opposed to agitating) the mohair but that time is not now. So, let the mohair soak in the hot water for 30 minutes, but don't exceed this time limit because if the water gets too cool the grease will tend to accumulate, seeping back onto the mohair, making it rather tacky.
NOW is the time for the "spin cycle" which will rid the mohair of the dirty water. Depending upon the original dirtiness/greasiness of the mohair, you will probably want to repeat the above washing process in it's entirety one more time, or even several more times, to your satisfaction. Once the mohair is cleaned to your liking, you will need to repeat the process one last time WITHOUT soap in order to rinse the mohair thoroughly. Remember, NEVER agitate. Rinse the mohair two or three times until the water is clear. I always add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the final rinse, which seems to add an extra special sparkle to the fleeces.
For the drying process, I used to remove a couple of screens from the house windows, and lay the mohair upon one, laying the remaining screen on top in order to keep the mohair from flying away. In other words, the mohair is sandwiched between the two screens. Elevating the screens upon blocks helps to increase ventilation, thereby aiding rapid drying. While your fleeces are drying, this might be a good time to cleanse your washer with several cycles filled with bleach so that your next load of laundry doesn't have any evidence of mohair odor, oils, nor fibers/dirt, etc.
note: you can also use the washing machine when you are dying fibers. After the dye bath, put the wool into the machine, spin,... drain. Fill the tank with hot water and rinse, spin. Do this several times until the water is clear. You can do this with Angora rabbit wool, silk and other fibers as long as you use the same water temperatures (HOT) and DO NOT AGITATE.
Also, it is a good idea to make sure that you clean the machine with bleach before your next load of hubby's nice white shirts (unless you hate him). :)