I would get some dawn dish washing detergent and be generous with it. Dawn is designed to get grease and oil out but it is gentle on the fibers they use it to get the oil of birds and animals when they get oil spill oil on them.
I have about 50kg of raw merino fleece from my 5 poddys. I have tried washing it but even after 4 or 5 goes with Power Scour, the fleece still feels greasy. I managed to successfully scour my crossbred fleece ( merino x border leicester), dye it and card it but have not had success with the merino. I used very hot water and was careful not to agitate the wool at all as it felts so easily. I put in a little extra Power Scour as well to help the process along. I am an expert at scouring alpaca fleece but am failing dismally with the merino. I would appreciate any tips or advice any of you have to offer.
Wow, That's a lot of fleece.
I haven't washed merino but I've washed really fine, blanketed cormo and bluefaced leicester.
It takes really hot water (160deg) and lots of detergent (Dawn dish detergent 1cup to 2lbs of fleece.)
The water needs to be VERY hot. Here in the US domestic hot water is usually 120degrees or less.
I add boiling water to bring the temperature up. Be really careful with the hot water. Water hot enough to scour the wool will burn your skin.
I like to put the wool in a mesh laundry bag and soak it in an old top loading washing machine that has a plain "spin" cycle that doesn't spray water, doesn't change directions and doesn't stop and restart. The kind of machine that fills up with lots of water.
I fill the washer with hot (160F) water, gently stir in the detergent with a long handled spoon to not make suds. I add the wool pressing it gently under the water and let it soak for about 15min (don't let the water cool) then spin out the water. I take the wool out and start over. It takes a couple of washes. Then a couple of rinses.
Not all top loader wash machines work though. I can't use my newer low water usage top loader. It doesn't actually fill with water, the drain and spin cycle changes speed and direction a couple of times and sprays water at the start.
My second choice is to soak and drain the wool in a large laundry tub.
Thanks so much for the advice. I am not sure whether we have "Dawn" dish detergent here but I might try another brand and see. I have a new fangled BOSCH front loading machine, so that method is out for me. I do use the spin only cycle though on my alpaca fleeces. It works well for that. I will try really hot water - I will turn up the gas heater for that one. I use mesh laundry bags and they are great.
I shall give it all another go when I get the chance and let you know how I went. Looking forward to dyeing some more sheep fleece to use with my natural alpaca colours.
I hope you don't mind that I'll add a couple points about safety.
Plumbing differs around the word but human skin is pretty much the same.
The temp you need for the wool is really dangerous.
...one-second exposure to 160° F water will result in third degree burns.
...1/2 minute exposure 130° F will result in third degree burns.
...10 minute exposure to120° F can result in third degree burns.
You want to consider it with as much care as you would a pot of water boiling on the stove.
Use the same protective equipment that you use when you are working with a simmering dye pot.
If you have a point of use tankless heater that's designed for high temperatures (usually a seperate
faucet at one fixture that you have to hold in the on position) that would be great.
But, I wouldn't change the temperature on my household water heater.
Water coming from a household faucet, shower or tub shouldn't exceed 120° F.
Also, most standard household water heaters aren't designed for high temps. The high tempertures can cause too much pressure in a tanked heater which can be dangerous. And, it can cause lime scale deposits that can damage appliances and fixtures.
I fill my laundry tub with hot tap water then add boiling water from a 4 liter counter top water boiler.
Thank you for the safety tips re temperatures and water heaters. Our gas heater has an adjustable dial which is within the safe perameters so I will be okay with this. We have no children at home so I am not worried about little ones accidentally burning themselves. Hope your information is a timely reminder to others as well. I will be very careful - maybe just do small amounts at a time. It is sad but the CSIRO - a government authority, closed down our only scouring plant last year. All of our merino and alpaca fleece has to be sent os now. I may look into sending it to NZ if they have one.
Thank you all for the advice given in your posts.
I have the offer of a raw fleece, Blue Leicester X I think, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of scouring it.
'Dawn' dish soap seems to feature a lot and I suppose this is similar to our 'Fairy' liquid'. i.e. a detergent rather than a soap???
I don't have a top loader
Merino and Cormo fleece have about 15 - 20% lanolin by weight. You cannot do a good job of washing using typical methods. I wash about 150 pounds a year. Please follow the directions below.
How To Wash Cormo or Merino Fleece
Cormo fleece contains about 15% lanolin. In order to correctly wash a Cormo fleece it is necessary to use 140 degree water throughout the process. Never let the fleece sit in water that has cooled off or the dirt and lanolin will set into the fleece. We recommend that fleece be examined and washed as soon as you get it. We fill a top loading washing machine with very hot water and 2 cups of Arm & Hammer clothes washing detergent. Agitate to distribute the detergent then submerge the fleece and let soak for 40 minutes. Spin out the dirty water and remove the fleece. Clean out the machine and refill with very hot water and 1 cup detergent and 1 cup of ammonia. Return the fleece to the machine and soak for 30 minutes. Spin out water. Remove fleece. Fill machine with very hot water and return fleece to machine. Soak for 10 minutes. Spin out water and remove fleece. Dry fleece on a screen or a sun porch. Ammonia will not harm your fleece.