Turn water heater to highest temperature. While water is heating, sort the fleece and make sure nasties have been skirted (nasty locks make good compost).
While skirting remove 2nd cuts, too. If the entire fleece has second cuts, make a mental note not to buy fleece from that person EVER again.
Lay fleece loosely in four sweater-size mesh bags. Fill bathtub with hot water, lay net bags on surface and poke into water using a long handled wooden spoon. Let soak about 30-40 min. With long handled spoon push bags away from drain and let water out of tub. Keep bags away from tap while refilling tub. When water level is about as high as overflow drain, add ½-3/4 c. of laundry detergent and swirl the soap thru the water. Push bags gently into the soapy water and arrange so they are laying flat. Let soak about 30-40 min. Drain as before. Repeat soap cycle a second time. If fleece is very greasy (merino, etc) repeat the soap soak process three times.
Begin the rinse cycles...move fleece away from drain etc. and keep away while tub is filling. When the rinse water remains clear, let the bags sit in the tub to drain and cool off. While cooling the bags off, remember to turn your water temperature back to it's normal setting.
When bags are cool enough to handle, lift each bag and gently squeeze the water out....big difference between
squeezing and wringing (just ask a dairycow)-do NOT wring!
After all four bags are squeezed, put them in the washing machine and set to spin only.
Remove fleece from bag and lay flat to dry. I use plastic bread racks (the type delivery persons use to get large amounts of bread into stores) allowing air circulation around the drying fleece. Any flat surface with air holes will work-be careful to avoid anything that will rust or already has rust on it. Keep in mind that wool can retain up to 30% moisture when it feels dry to the touch. If drying fleece outside in the wind cover top layer with cheesecloth to keep fleece from flying away.
When thoroughly dry, pack lightly in cotton pillowcases or baskets for storage. I usually tuck in some dried
herbs-rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus etc.
Common problems when washing fleece: