In addition to the ridiculous piles of yarn and sweaters populating my house, I also have a number of 100% wool blankets, which are definitely keeping me warm these days. In particular, I have a queen-sized Hudson Bay Point Blanket that we received as a wedding gift from my parents – it was tucked inside a cedar blanket chest built by my Dad. Best gift ever! We love this blanket – it keeps us toasty and it’s so heavy that it prevents the sheets and duvet underneath it from shifting during the night as well. But I was getting worried (to the extent that one should be worried about textile cleaning), that I would either a) have to pay an arm and leg every couple of years to get it dry-cleaned or b) have an increasingly grimy and smelly blanket on our bed. That’s why I was intrigued the other day to read this article in Mother Earth News on cleaning wool with snow. Who knew? You can clean wool blankets and rugs by scrubbing them with cold snow!
It’s been quite cold in Madison this past week, and last Thursday it was around 5F/-15 C. You need cold weather to make this cleaning method work, otherwise the snow simply melts on contact and makes the blanket too wet. So I decided to give this a try. I took the blanket outside and hung it on our clothesline for an hour or so, to pre-chill it. I then spread it on the snow (about 6 inches) covering the ground:
The article linked above simply said to walk all over the blanket, in order to smush the snow into the fabric. This didn’t seem like a good idea considering that I was wearing heavy, soiled boots! So I got on my hands and knees and crawled all over the blanket, then flipped it over and did the same thing on the other side. I took a break at one point to admire the scenic view:
and then shook it out as best I could (which wasn’t very well – that thing is heavy), and took it upstairs to hang it over the banister to dry out.
(OK, the real story is that between crawling all over it in the back yard and bringing it inside, I discovered that I had locked myself out of my house, in 5 degree F weather, wearing jeans and my Bucky the Badger sweatshirt, no mittens, no phone, no wallet. Thank goodness for neighbourhood stores that let you use their phone, and for the fact that our property manager lives around the corner. Phew!)
So, after I made an idiot of myself crawling all over a blanket in the snow, did it work? YES! Yes it did! The blanket smells much better, and I do believe it looks brighter as well. So I think this will become a yearly activity, and I’m happy to be able to continue using my beloved Hudson Bay blanket every day without worrying about it becoming too stinky. A good discovery!
(Finally, for those who are expecting that a blog called “Bronwen Reads” should include some mention of, well, reading, never fear! In between all of the textile-washing this weekend I had the chance to place lots of holds on library books – I’m particularly looking forward to getting my hands on Parade’s End, by Ford Madox Ford.)