Asked on Jun 14, 2014

How to whiten aged wool.

Mari Hewson
by Mari Hewson
I have a 33 yr old 4 ply pure wool, hand knitted lacy, white baby shawl that has gone yellow with age, that I would love to restore for my future grandchildren. It has been stored in tissue paper for the last 30 or so years, but has discoloured horribly. I believe there are ways to whiten it and would love to hear the solution from someone who has actually had success doing this. I see there are lots of idea on the net, but they are possible suggestions... not success stories. Help please.
  5 answers
  • Centrd Centrd on Jun 15, 2014
    I have had lots of luck whitening yellowed linens & stained fabric using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide & dawn detergent (original, not antibacterial) and then laying the article outside in the sun. Sun is an amazing bleaching agent. I've removed every kind of stain from whites with this process. Sometimes, the stain treated with hydrogen peroxide & Dawn becomes more yellow after being in the sun, but then doing a follow up wash, it comes out bright & white. I'm not sure about wool though...I have some flokati rugs that I've been trying to bleach whiter and everything I've read about that says you can't put them in the sun because it will yellow them! Apparently sunlight will yellow some wools and bleach others. What I've done for my rugs as an alternative is soak them in salon strength Hydrogen Peroxide, then rinse them out well and dry indoors. I have definitely seen some whitening but not as much as I'd like. The problem I think is that hydrogen peroxide used for hair bleaching becomes inactive after 30 minutes or so. My next attempt will be to use either a stronger H.P. and/or mix it with an activator (soda ash) & vingegar, etc. as per this recipe: Trouble with that is they say to use hot water and naturally we don't want to shrink our items. So I'm still experimenting. But that's what I know from personal experience. If you find something that works, please share!
  • Jim L Jim L on Jun 15, 2014
    After the peroxide and Dawn wash, spread it on the green grass to dry. The grass helps to whiten it.
  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on Jun 15, 2014
    Go to your local beauty supply store and buy the kind of peroxide they use to 'frost' your hair (it comes in a powder in a tub). Dilute a couple of tablespoons in some in hot water, soak it overnight, and then rinse VERY thoroughly multiple times. Hang it in the sun if necessary. If you have spots that won't come clean because they're oil-based use a mild soap. Once it's white, launder again with a mild lanolin-based wool soap (because it will strip out all the good oils).
  • Marge Marge on Jun 15, 2014
    whatever you do, test the solution first. Be careful that it doesn't ruin the item. At least it is a natural fiber. you might luck out with one of the above suggestions.
  • Bar33634001 Bar33634001 on Jun 18, 2018