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How to Clean Your Alpaca Products

This articles was last updated on 10/09/2023.

Some of the magic of alpaca is the fact that it naturally repels water, dirt, and odors, so cleaning takes place a lot less than you’d expect. A lot of times you can air out alpaca products or shake them lightly to remove odors or dirt.

I wash synthetic sweaters with every wear, but I only clean alpaca sweaters every five or so wears. I tend to wash socks with every other wear or every third wear.

When you are ready to wash your alpaca garments and products, you want to make sure you treat them with care. While alpaca is very robust, it is a natural product, and it isn’t cleaned like other items.

General Recommendations for Cleaning

  • Review product care instructions first and follow those instructions over any others.
  • If no instructions are available, consider hand washing or dry cleaning as a default.
  • Some blended products can be machine washed on cold in a gentle cycle, but not all will have this as an option.
  • Products that include silk or have a boucle material should be dry cleaned.
  • Baby shampoo is the best option for hand washing.
  • Drying products can be best done by rolling them in a clean, dry towel. This will suck out the excess water and allow you to air dry the rest of the way. This is done for only a minute and you do not leave products within the towel.
  • Laying products flat to dry is preferred.
  • If dry cleaning, select an experienced dry cleaner who has worked with alpacas previously.

Cleaning Alpaca Socks

  • Many of the alpaca sock manufacturers mix alpaca with other materials like bamboo, nylon, or spandex.
  • This mixture of materials allows alpaca socks to be cleaned in the washing machine with other clothing.
  • If using the washing machine, cool water is still recommended.
  • Many socks will also allow machine drying, however, we highly recommend that you skip the dryer and lay all socks flat to dry.
  • If your sock label does allow for machine drying, make sure you use the lowest temperature possible.

Cleaning 100% Alpaca Hats, Scarves, Mittens, etc.

  • Handwash in baby shampoo and cool water.
  • Limit agitation and lots of movement.
  • Use a towel to roll the product and remove excess water.
  • Lat flat to dry.

Cleaning Alpaca Sweaters

  • Sweater instructions will vary based on materials and structure.
  • Sweaters that blend alpaca with acrylic can do well on a gentle cycle and gentle shampoo, however, this won’t apply to all items so check your care instructions.
  • If your sweater does allow for machine washing, make sure the water is cool.
  • Sweaters that require hand washing are best done with cool water and gentle baby shampoo. Remove excess water by rolling in a towel, then lay flat to dry.
  • Sweaters that require dry cleaning should state this on clothing labels.

Cleaning Alpaca Rugs

  • Rugs are best washed in the bathtub with baby shampoo and cool water.
  • Drying rugs is best done by rolling them in a clean, dry towel.
  • Once done, lay flat to dry.
  • Do not lay in the sun to dry.

Cleaning Fur Alpaca Products

  • Fur bears, slippers, pillows, and scarves would be spot cleaned.
  • Cool water and a soft wipe should remove most issues.
  • A wire brush can be used to gently remove dirt and restore the fur product to its original condition.
  • These products can also be fluffed by gently shaking.

Cleaning Alpaca Blankets and Throws

  • 100% alpaca blankets will generally recommend dry cleaning.
  • Alpaca blend blankets and throws can be hand washed with cool water and gentle baby shampoo.
  • After washing, remove excess water by rolling in a towel, then lay flat to dry.
  • Check product tags for recommendations specific to your product.

Warnings and Things Not to Do

  • Never use hot water or heat, as this will felt or shrink your alpaca products. This includes the medium cycle of a dryer.
  • Never use agitation. This will shrink your 100% alpaca product.
  • Avoid wringing, twisting, or scrubbing.
  • Do not leave products soaking in water for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Never use Woolite. It is simply too harsh.
  • Avoid fabric softener.
  • Never use chlorine bleach.
  • Never put 100% alpaca products in the dryer. Similar to hot water, it will feel your products.
  • Most alpaca products will not respond well to an iron, so avoid it unless the label specifically allows it.
  • Avoid spraying perfume or hairspray while wearing fur items like scarves or hats.

What to Do if You Shrunk Your Alpaca Product

  • If you inadvertently shrunk your garment, you can try washing it with a hair conditioner to try and unshrink it.
  • The conditioner will soften the fibers and help loosen up the garment, so you can gently stretch the product back into its original size and form.
  • While this won’t work with all products (sometimes there is just too much damage), it has worked with many products, so it is worth a try.

Remember, alpaca has a natural ability to self-clean. You won’t need to wash your products nearly as much as you would expect. I’ve watched our alpaca girls roll in dirt or stand out in the rain, only to be spotless the next day. It amazes me, but it is these same properties that make washing and cleaning alpaca products much less of a priority than synthetic items.

12 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Alpaca Products”

  1. Denise Webb

    What do you know about washable alpaca yarn? I’m finishing up a baby blanket for my niece and the instructions say wash in machine on cold and delicate, then dry on low. Worries me!

  2. Tina r white

    I am a caregiver and my client has a few natural alpaca rugs that need some spot cleaning on the edges. How would you recommend cleaning them?

    1. Rebecca Gill

      For me it would depend on the type of construction. If it is like the rugs we sell on our website here, I would wash them in the bathtub in cool water and baby shampoo as I mention above. If they are fur rugs, I would spot clean them with baby shampoo and the cool water.

    1. Rebecca Gill

      Danielle is the stuffed animal yellow at the tips or the entire fiber from tip to base?

  3. Vikki Armytage

    Rebecca I have 2 Alpaca mattresses and pillows. My young nephew stayed overnight and wet the bed in my spare room and the mattress has a yellow stain from the urine. Is there any way I can get the stain out?

    1. Rebecca Gill

      Vikki I’d love to provide advice, but I honestly don’t know. I haven’t experienced this issue yet.

  4. So I have an alpaca wall hanging rug that has never been cleaned. 27 years later I would like to freshen by cleaning it to hang in my new house. It has panda bears on it brown and white. The white looks dirty from being hung close to a register vent. Any suggestions?

    1. Rebecca Gill

      I’m really not experienced with this type of product and cleaning a large area. What I would recommend is testing a small area that isn’t in the main line of site to see if you can make improvements without harming the fiber.

  5. Hello Rebecca
    I have a 5‘ x 6‘ alpaca fur are use it as a wall hanging I guess it could be a bed covering. It’s been in storage for 15 years controlled climate still in beautiful shape. I hung it on the wall in my apartment and I’ve noticed that it’s been up there a year. The air filtration is not that great my apartment until I put in a HEPA filter system, and where the ceiling fan gets the air from The vent it’s blowing down on part of that wall hanging it’s turning brown on the leading edge, in reading your previous replies would you say baby shampoo in a spray bottle would be a good way to take care of it and if so, Watt with the water to shampoo ratio be I don’t wanna have to take it off the wall that was a two hour project to get it on the wall any help would be great. Thanks.

    1. Rebecca Gill

      I’m really not experienced with this type of product and cleaning a large area. What I would recommend is testing a small area that isn’t in the main line of site to see if you can make improvements without harming the fiber.

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