Wool Wash Bar 15

I love wool clothing. I don’t have much patience when it comes to knitting or crocheting sweaters, socks, hats, mittens and scarves. However, each wool article in my closet is a treasured item. There is just something about wool that is so soft and warm. I love that. There is just one problem. Taking care of your wool garments can take a little work.

Many modern detergents and laundry softeners are great with cotton, rayon, spandex, and even bamboo, but they turn wool into one of the most itchy items you own in a heartbeat. Talk about absolutely aggravating.

Today I wanted to make a wool wash bar that gently cleans and softens the fiber while keeping its life and integrity. Tomorrow we will make a wool conditioner, and Friday I will show you how to wash and care for your wool items.

This bar has a very high content of lanolin. This is what helps condition the wool, keeping it soft. Because the lanolin content is so high, you may not like it as a hand bar, but I am sure you will love it for your clothes. Just remember that when washing wool you don’t want to use hot water or scrub vigorously. This can cause the wool to shrink or distort the finished piece. Be gentle with your wool items. They will last longer for it.



Palm Kernel Oil
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)


Microwave Safe Container
Immersion Blender


Recipe in Ounces

4 oz Palm Kernel Oil
4 oz Coconut Oil
4 oz Olive Oil
4 oz Lanolin
2.12 oz Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
6 fl oz Water

Recipe in Percentages

25% Palm Kernel Oil
25% Coconut Oil
25% Olive Oil
25% Lanolin
Q.S. Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
Q.S. Water


Now to make our wool wash bar.

Weigh your oils into a microwave safe container. Lanolin is sticky and can be immensely difficult to measure out. To simplify things, I like to warm my container of lanolin so it is in a slightly molten stage. It makes weighing the lanolin out and clean up much easier.

While the oils are heating in the microwave, weigh out your lye and mix with your water. Remember to add your lye to your water, not the other way around. Your safety is our first concern!

Weighing Oils

Weighing oils.

Waiting for Lye and Oils to cool

Waiting for lye solution and heated oils to cool.

Allow your oils and lye solution to cool. I like to put away my buckets of oils and set up my mold during this period. This helps keep my counters clean and my distractions to a minimum.

When your oils are around 100°F-110°F, add your lye solution to your oils. (Remember, lanolin is a temperature sensitive ingredient. Using lower temperatures is imperative if you don’t want a soap volcano or you want a smooth looking soap.) Using your immersion blender, mix your soap until you reach a light trace.

Remember, trace doesn’t describe a viscosity; it just means that we aren’t seeing the oils float to the top and separate out. Often we pour our soap into the mold when it is the viscosity of whole milk. That is extremely fluid!

Waiting to Add Lye Solution

Waiting to add lye solution.

Ready to Mix Soap

Ready to mix soap.

Mixing Soap

Mixing soap.

Finished Soap

Finished soap in the mold.

Allow your soap to sit in the mold undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then cut into bars and place out on a shelf where they can dry. You can use your soap immediately, but it will last longer if you allow it to dry completely. It will also keep longer if your store it in an area where it doesn’t sit in water constantly.

A great aid in determining if your soap has fully dried are our Cure Cards. The best part is you can have them included in qualifying order for free! If you want a set, let our order desk know. They are awesome at taking care of special requests.



My empty Coconut Oil Bucket

My empty Coconut Oil Bucket

I have a funny for you readers. It isn’t very often I empty one of my large buckets of oil. When I went to make my soap, I was surprised to discover that my bucket was almost empty! I had only a few chunks of oil on the bottom. I was positive I would not have enough to make my soap.

Stubborn as always, I grabbed my trusty heat gun and started to warm the oil. I was able to get everything that was clinging to the bucket and to my little scraper. And would you believe it? I had 4.02 oz of Coconut Oil. Whew! I made it.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Wool Wash Bar, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

About Taylor

I'm a twenty something happy, animal loving, curious experimenter. I love reaching back into history and trying old recipes for cosmetics or foods. I'm constantly asking "Why?" My curiosity has me trying new things. I love taking walks with my dog as well as staying at home to cuddle with the dog and my cats. Some of my favorite scents include Hinoki Wood, Rose Garden, Jasmine and Gladiator.

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15 thoughts on “Wool Wash Bar

  • Tracy

    Wow! This is fantastic! I am a fan of wool and use it often when I knit and crochet. Thank you for this recipe. What a great idea for gift soap.

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  • Lauri

    I am interested in a different wool project… Felting wool around soap to use in shower. Have you done a felting soap post?

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  • Mary Gomez

    hi, can you add color or scents to this soap? any help leading me in the right direction for that? obviously color that won’t come off on the wool garments? thank you.

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    • Tina


      Because wool accepts both dyes AND pigment colors by bonding with the platelets on the hair shaft we do not recommend adding much color, if any, to the Wool Wash Bar. You might try a light blue or light yellow color. Overall I would rather the color be skipped.


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  • Melana

    Hi, love your recipe. what is the Superfat on this recipe please and have you tried it with KOH?

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    • Tina

      The superfat level is about 5% excess fat. I think it works well. I would not do this as a KOH type of recipe because potassium hydroxide (KOH) will make a paste style of soap and not a bar soap. I want something where I can control the amount of dissolving in the bath water of my laundry items. I don’t want a paste glob that could refuse to dissolve and get lodged in the fibers of my clothes.

      Just my two cents.

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  • Christina

    This recipe is fantastic. Thanks for sharing!
    I have a question for all of you. (I really am a total newby)
    Could i just add lanolin to ordinary curd soap/ raw soap (that was melted) and let it cool and dry again?
    Would that actually work? Or do i need to make new soap including all the steps given?

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    • Tina


      You will want to do the recipe as written because we want the lanolin to be a part of the bar. We are wanting the lanolin to be in two separate parts 1) the part that can turn to soap will, 2) the part that can’t turn to soap is available to help the wool fibers slip past each other so as to condition the fiber and not let it dry out.


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  • HJ

    How hard did this bar get after the cure? Using 25% lanolin with its high unsaponifiables made me wonder if it wasn’t a sticky, softer bar?

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    • Taylor Post author


      This bar got fairly firm but not overly hard. I felt it was a perfect firmness because while it wasn’t soft of sticky, it was easy to use the bar on any wool garments without needing to use the bar aggressively and causing the garment to felt.


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  • Arlo

    Is there any possible substitute for palm kernel oil? I am hoping to avoid it for ethical reasons.

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    • Andee

      The best alternative for Palm Kernel Oil would be Coconut Oil. So in this recipe, just adjust to 50% Coconut Oil and recalculate the lye. I hope this helps!

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