A hand knit wool scarf is an attractive accessory, but the unique qualities of wool fibers call for some specific care when it comes to washing. Yarn made from animal fibers, like wool, will "felt," or mat together if they run through the washing machine. The agitation of your washer plus the high heat from the wash water encourage the fibers in the yarn to tangle. The agitation also can stretch and pull your scarf out of shape. Fortunately, hand washing your wool scarf is simple and inexpensive, and usually only takes a few minutes of effort.
Step 1 - Wash
Fill a wash basin, bucket, or your sink with warm water. Make sure it's not too hot—you should be able to comfortably hold your hand in it for a few minutes. Then, add a capful or two of a laundry soap that is safe for fine fabrics, such as Woolite. Gently swish your hand through the water to create suds.
Completely submerge your scarf in the sudsy water. Do not rub or scrub it, as this may encourage the fibers in the yarn to start felting together. You may very gently squeeze once or twice to make sure it is completely soaked, and then let it sit for ten minutes.
Step 2 - Rinse
After the specified time, gather the entire scarf into your hands and carefully lift it out of the water. Squeeze it gently to get rid of excess water, but do not squeeze too tightly or wring it out. Then, set it aside on a folded towel.
Drain out the wash water, and refill the basin or sink with clean fresh water. Again, make sure the water is warm, but not hot. Submerge your scarf in the rinse water, gently compressing it and pressing it against the bottom of the basin. Once again, do not wring or twist your scarf, and do not swish it rapidly in the water. After squishing out the suds a few times, gather it up into your hands again and apply pressure to get rid of the excess water. Set it back on the folded towel once more, and drain or dump the rinse water.
Step 3 - Dry
To get your scarf dry again, spread it out a large, dry towel on a flat surface. Gently lay it down the center of the towel lengthwise—be careful not to pull or stretch it out of shape. Then, fold the left and right sides over the scarf, and roll up the towel from one end to the other. Press down hard on the rolled-up towel to squeeze out more of the excess water. Unroll and unfold the bundle again, and gently remove the scarf before you set this towel aside.
Lay out a second dry towel in a warm place, and make sure it isn't directly in the sun, as sunlight exposure could fade the yarn colors. Place the scarf on top to air dry. Flip it over at some point after the first side is dry to give the other some exposure.