This is another ‘gray’ area for wool users! Every piece of wool you use in your appliqué’ project is going to “felt” differently. Most will continue to shrink/felt if they are washed again. Knowing that, you should NEVER put a completed appliqué’ project in your washing machine, the agitation and water temperature cause the perfect conditions for your wool to shrink/felt.
The only time a piece of wool appliqué’ needs to be laundered is if something really bad gets spilled on it. Laundering a piece of wool appliqué’ just because it hasn’t been washed in a while is unnecessary. If it is dusty, simply shake it out or hang it on the line for an hour or two.
If laundering your piece is absolutely necessary, there are two ways to achieve this. The first (and my favorite) would be to fill your bathtub with lukewarm water that has been treated with a mild detergent like Woolite. Lay the appliqué’ piece flat in the tub and let it soak up the water. You may need to push it down with your hands as wool is naturally water-repellant. Let it soak for 20 minutes, agitate it lightly with your hands especially in places where it is soiled. If the water is really dirty, drain the tub and repeat this first step. To rinse your piece, repeat the first step without the soap, agitate it lightly and drain the tub. Leave the wet wool piece in the tub flat for about an hour to drain – DO NOT wring your piece. If it is still water-logged, leave it longer in the tub. Take a dry bath towel and lay it on top of your piece to absorb as much additional water as possible before you pick it up. Pick your piece up very carefully and lay it on another dry bath towel, leave it flat to dry. If you have one of those sweater drying devices, you can use that without the extra bath towel.
The second way to clean your item is to try having it dry cleaned. With this method you have no control of how your piece is handled. If dry cleaning is your choice, I would talk to the dry cleaner before I left my finished wool appliqué piece.