Wash Dog Fur for Spinning

Introduction: Wash Dog Fur for Spinning

About: I'm one of those people who just can't seem to stop learning - my never-ending list of interests include gardening, spinning yarn, fiber arts, high-fired porcelain ceramics, baking, cooking and woodworking. ...

Turn that smelly fur into soft gorgeous spinning fiber - without felting or matting it too much!

Step 1: Bag It Up!

Place the fur into nylon mesh lingerie bags (or any netting-type bag that can be secured closed). Don't put too much in, you're going to need to have some room for water and soap to circulate. Gather a bottle of dish detergent (Dawn works well, but I prefer the industrial size gallon bottle of cheapo stuff) and head to a laundry tub or a bathtub.

Step 2: Get Hot and Soapy!

Turn the temperature on your water heater up, if possible, and fill your tub up with some super-hot water - you're not going to want to put your hands in this!!! Be careful of course not to burn yourself or splash yourself with the hot hot water...

Fill the tub about 4-5" deep. Add a good amount of detergent, about 1/3 cup or so. You can see the water looks pale urine yellow in my picture, due to the orange soap.

Step 3: Add the Fur - Time to Get Smelly!

Add the bags of fur one at a time, gently letting them float onto the surface of the water. They will float on top - this is normal, let them sit for a minute, then use a gloved hand to gently turn the netting bags over, which should cause the fur to submerge into the soapy water.

Don't poke or prod or mess with the bags at all, if you can avoid it. Doing so will cause felting and matting, which is impossible to reverse.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and find something to do...

Step 4: Ta Da! Grossness!

When you return, the bags should be floating in a dirty icky smelly soapy water solution... and your laundry room or bathroom will smell like a wet dog that had a dishwashing habit. Don't panic...

Step 5: Drain, Rinse, Repeat!

Carefully move the bags of fur into one corner and pull the plug on the drain. If you're feeling like the nylon bags may not have caught all of the fur, use a nylon stocking to cover your drain opening and catch any stray hairs.

After the tub has emptied, gently (and I mean GENTLY) press down on the bags to squeeze some of the remaining soapy water out.

Step 6: Here's Where the Repeat Part Comes In...

Now, with the bags in one corner, far from the running water part of the tub, fill the tub with hot water once again, to about the same spot.

Add soap (about half as much as in the previous wash) and then float the bags gently out into the solution.

After 15 minutes, drain, and then repeat the process with a hot water rinse. If the water is still murky, repeat the soap and water process once more, and then rinse.

Step 7: Finally...

When done, gently press the bags against the wall of the tub to remove excess water. Blot the bags between bath towels to remove even more water, and then hang them up on the clothesline or near a source of heat to dry.

You may need to open the bags and 'fluff' the fiber to get it to dry more evenly.



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    22 Discussions

    can we put the bags in the dryer?

    Thanks for the idea. A question, though: I'd like to try doing this with fur from my cats, but I am concerned about allergies. I'm not personally allergic to pet hair, but I know lots of people who are. Will the washing process remove allergy-causing dander, or would I be walking around in my cat-fur (or, for that matter, dog-fur) scarf causing sneezes wherever I go?

    4 replies

    I know this about cats: Most people are allergic to the dander caused by saliva residue. If the cat is rinsed with plain water, it does reduce allergic reactions. It is possible that dog fur does not produce as much of a reaction because a dog does not lick its fur the same way a cat does. Whatever allergens cling to the hairs are washed away in the washing process. Otherwise, there may be people who allergic to the hair itself. I am not so sure about that though.

    Great. Thanks for the response. I actually remembered this process the other day while I was brushing my cat and thinking, "I must have enough here to make a whole other cat. Or... maybe some yarn..." and then I saw your comment in my inbox. I will experiment - I'll enlist the assistance of my aunt who lives with us and is horribly allergic to cats but loves them and wants to be around them anyway so relies on antihistamines - I'll see how she reacts to some cat yarn once I've made it. Thanks! :)

    As a lifetime asthmatic and animal-allergic person, I can confirm blodefood's statement. The hair itself is not what people react to, it is the proteins in shed skin (dander) and saliva that adhere to the hair. If it is washed and clean as you are describing, it will be totally safe. (case in point, I can wear wool, even though I wheeze up if I spend much time around sheep)

    Completely agreed. I am allergic to cats (including my own) but after felting with soapy water I don't react to my crafts. My coin purse is made of cat hair.

    Thank you for putting this up!

    thank you for putting information regarding how to wash animal hair for spinning/yarn

    I tried this just today! It worked amazingly, although getting enough hot water for the hair that I had was kind of an effort (I went to the local petsmart and asked their groomers for hair. They looked at me oddly, but gave me a garbage bag full, so...win.)

    I actually wouldn't comment normally, except....well....I felt that I owed you an apology! I couldn't imagine this working as well as it did! :) It worked amazingly, and you're my new favorite person!

    Since you must be so very careful to not "felt" the dog hair, could you actually felt it into something? I love to felt recycled wool and I have used wool yarn and then felted or actually felled the resulting piece. I also know that you can felt wool roving. I think that I will experimet with some fur from my furfaced daughter (an English setter named Lady with very long soft fur) and see what I can do. Who knows, we might have a new craft here. I have probably thrown away and vacuumed up enough fur to make lots of cool things. LOL!!

    How about the stubbly Jack Russell hair that sheds everywhere(I mean everywhere...)

    Never thought of dog fur as material for spinning...Does it make a strong yarn??

    1 reply

    Well, I've been able to hand-spin fairly strong thin yarn/thick thread out of fur from a shorthair cat.... As said above, strength is greater with longer fibers, but if you spin it tightly enough before counter-twisting it into yarn you can build up a fair amount of strength.

    I was thinking about this for a while. My cousin is a groomer, so I figured she could supply me with the dog hair.:)

     great I have a large Maltese... I am have started to collect her hair...
    was not sure how to start turning into yarn

    Well done! A variant on that - I had 2 'lassie' rough collies and collected a lot of wonderful fluff which I washed in old tights, do you call them panty hose? This means it's cheaper than buying these special bags, and there is less bulk when drying them. You can spin them gently by the way, then sit them astride the washing line! Also, being less holey ( except for the reason you discarded the hose in the first place ;o) this method doesn't block your drain with loose hair! But beware clothes moths!!! They loved dog hair, washed or otherwise. I had to through lots away . Now I know that I could perhaps have salvaged something by putting (clean!) fluff into the freezer for 2 x 72 hour cycles, separated by a few days. I have an old one in the garage, since I have lots of textiles and a moth problem. It works! The first chill kills most moths stages, and the second kills larvae that hatch from eggs that survived. I gather that they are stimulated to hatch when they thaw out, so you can get the little darlings second time round. Don't delay the second freeze, as you may have larvae in there thinking it's spring time! Collie fluff spins beautifully