How To Wash Suri Alpaca and Mohair

This is how my unwashed alpaca looked when it arrived.

This is how my unwashed alpaca looked when it arrived.

Another of how my unwashed alpaca looked when it arrived.

Another of how my unwashed alpaca looked when it arrived.

Separate the main bundle of hair into smaller bundles of locks. Rubber band the end. I use the super tiny ones for Jamaican braids. You can find them in the hair elastics section in stores. I like Goodie brand.

Separate the main bundle of hair into smaller bundles of locks. Rubber band the end. I use the super tiny ones for Jamaican braids. You can find them in the hair elastics section in stores. I like Goodie brand.

This picture shows the unbound hair. You should already bind it by this part. This was my second round of washing so I had removed the bands for this run.) Gently loosen each lock of hair. Rubber band the end. I use the super tiny ones for Jamaican braids. You can find them in the hair elastics section in stores. I like Goodie brand. Set each tied lock aside. I chose to do all of mine at once and place it in the washing bin temporarily. When I was done loosening, I removed most of the hair from the bin and left in a small amount to wash. Wash in batches. NOTE: On my couch you can see my Boar Bristle brush! A MUSH HAVE for alpaca!

This picture shows unbound hair. You should already bind it by this part. This was my second round of washing so I had removed the bands for this run. I had taken the bands off and then put them back on in a different spot so that I could wash the area that was under the band. 

DIRECTIONS:

Rubber band separated groups of locks (2-3 per bundle).
Gently finger loosen each lock of hair. Pull out any big pieces of hay and dirt.
Set each tied lock aside. I chose to do all of mine at once and place it in the washing bin temporarily. When I was done loosening, I removed the hair from the bin and used it to wash. Wash in SMALL batches.

NOTE: On my couch you can see my Boar Bristle brush! A MUSH HAVE for alpaca!

Place the loosened locks in a washing receptable, sink etc..  Prep your wash area. Have ready your shampoo, conditioner, a towel to lay wet locks on, a drying rack and a towel for your hands as grabbing dry hair with wet hands is messy.  ALLOW YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME. This experience requires time and patience. I personally find it cathartic as I thrive in tedium. This may NOT be the task for you. Be prepared for that before you begin. Only place a few locks in at a time to prevent tangling. Wash in batches. I prefer to keep the locks in the rubber bands. This is a picture without.

Again, ignore the lack of rubber bands. Yours should still have them in at this point.

HOW TO WASH:
Prep your wash area. Have ready your shampoo, conditioner, a towel to lay wet locks on, a drying rack and a towel for your hands as grabbing dry hair with wet hands is messy so you will get a lot of stray pieces on you and will probably want something to smear them off on. DO NOT rinse them down your sink. They add up big time and will create clogs.
ALLOW YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME. This experience requires time and patience. I personally find it cathartic as I thrive in tedium. This may NOT be the task for you. Be prepared for that before you begin.
Only place a few locks in at a time to prevent tangling. Wash in batches. Keep the locks in the rubber bands.

A picture of the tub I use, unfilled.  Fill your chosen receptacle with enough TEPID water to cover your locks.  Put the shampoo or chosen soap (Dawn for some) in the water AFTER the receptacle is full and BEFORE you put in the hair. Slosh the soap and water around with your hand to mix. This prevents a mass amount of annoying bubbles that block your view of the hair. THEN put in your locks, gently and one at a time. I do about 5 per batch. Let the hair soak for about 5 minutes. Then GENTLY kinda wave the locks from side to side in the water. GENTLY. Like seaweed at the bottom of the ocean on a calm day. DO NOT agitate. Pick out the big chunks of hay n' dirt.  Sometimes I gently lift out the locks and gently finger comb them, then carefully return them to the tub. DO NOT use hot water as you will felt the hair (Ball it up into one huge clump that is permanently ruined). Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of my hair IN The water as I forgot to take a picture of the most important part! I got on a roll

A picture of the tub I use, unfilled.

Fill your chosen receptacle with enough TEPID water to cover your locks. DO NOT use hot water as you will felt the hair (Ball it up into one huge clump that is permanently ruined).
Put the shampoo or chosen soap (Dawn for some) in the water AFTER the receptacle is full and BEFORE you put in the hair. This prevents a mass amount of annoying bubbles that block your view of the hair. Gently slosh the soap and water around with your hand to mix.  THEN put in your locks, gently and one at a time. I do about 5 per batch. Hold the top of the lock in one hand and the bottom in the other and place them in the tub.

Let the hair soak for about 5 minutes. Then GENTLY kinda wave the locks from side to side in the water. GENTLY. Like seaweed at the bottom of the ocean on a calm day. DO NOT agitate.
Pick out the big chunks of hay n’ dirt.
Fill your palm with a healthy goober of conditioner. Lift out a lock and gently finger comb while smearing and smoothing the conditioner into the hair.  The conditioner helps to remove tangles to that dirt and debris come out a lot easier, and also make the hair softer when it’s dry. After finger combing and detangling, carefully return the lock to the tub, laying them flat and straight on the bottom. Repeat with another.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of my hair IN The water as I forgot to take a picture of the most important part! I got on a roll. When I do this again I will add the picture.

Individually remove each lock from the tub and set aside. When the entire batch is done, dump out your water and fill with tepid water WITHOUT the soap this time, to rinse.  Individually remove and lay your washed locks out to dry. Leave them be!  I like to lay them all on a towel first and then I roll the towel over them and GENTLY press the water out, then I lay them flat on a rack to dry.  When they are dry, repeat the entire process. It usually takes 2 or 3 washes. The reason is because you can only gently soak, not agitate the hair so you need to do it a few times to get them clean. It can take MANY washes, so be patient! I should also note that this took me 2 full days. I would soak, wash, soak, rinse, dry, repeat.

When all the locks have been detangled and cleaned, gently rinse them in the seaweed manner previously explained.

Individually remove each lock from the tub and set aside. When the entire batch is done, dump out your water and fill with tepid water WITHOUT the soap this time, to rinse.

Rinse in the seaweed manner.
Individually remove and lay your washed locks out to dry. Leave them be!
I like to lay them all on a towel first and then I roll the towel over them and GENTLY press the water out, then I lay them flat on a rack to dry.
When they are dry, repeat the entire process. It usually takes 2 or 3 washes. The reason is because you can only gently soak, not agitate the hair so you need to do it a few times to get them clean. It can take MANY washes, so be patient!
I should also note that this took me 2 full days. I would soak, wash, soak, rinse, dry, repeat.

Yummy clean, soft goodness! It is still unbrushed, but that would be a different tutorial! Please note that sometimes you can't get all the little hay bits out ( I forget what they call it. They have a word)(Update: I REMEMBER! It's called 'Vegetable Matter' or VM for short!) but they SHOULD come out with the brushing. That's why I'm not too worried about it. As you can see, it's clean and shiny and the flecks will be easy to remove.

Yummy clean, soft goodness!
It is still unbrushed, but that would be a different tutorial!
Please note that sometimes you can’t get all the little hay bits out ( I forget what they call it. They have a word) but they SHOULD come out with the brushing. That’s why I’m not too worried about it. As you can see, it’s clean and shiny and the flecks will be easy to remove.

oooOOOooo... Here is a lock that has been thoroughly washed and dried. I curled it around a pen while it was wet and let it dry to see what would happen. It stayed like this and was MAGNIFICO! I can't express how soft and SHINY it was!

oooOOOooo… Here is a lock that has been thoroughly washed and dried. I curled it around a pen while it was wet and let it dry to see what would happen. It stayed like this and was MAGNIFICO! I can’t express how soft and SHINY it was!

PLEASE if you have experience with this: COMMENT! Feel open and free to add advice and fill in whatever I am missing.

PLEASE also note that other people may have their own way of doing things. This was my way.

UPDATE!
It was requested that I tell you guys how to brush alpaca. First off you should know that you CANNOT brush curly mohair and similar types of fibres. Just appreciate them for what they are.

Ok, so with the alpaca fibre, I NEVER brush it until it is already knotted and loop/locked into my dollies scalps. Otherwise you just lose absolutely everything you have. Imagine cutting a chunk of your own hair off and brushing it. All you would succeed in doing is making a huge mess and taking the hair from one spot and putting it in another: The hairbrush.

If you, for some reason, feel that you absolutely must brush the alpaca before you use it -which I highly recommend not doing, I can’t stress this enough- then you can do what I did on my TEST piece (only because I was curious to see what it would like like all clean and finished on my doll). Take the clean and dry elasticized alpaca -DRY. ALWAYS DRY. NEVER brush wet fiber. EVER. In any way, shape or form! – and twist the elastic end around your finger to secure it. Hold it OMG super tight so that EVERY single piece is clamped in your fingers. Then brush it ever so gently without letting go. Ever. I used a variety of brushes. Sometimes I needed ‘this’ one for big knots or ‘that’ one for the hay and bits… In all I have: A wide tooth comb, a boar bristle brush and a fine tooth comb. I usually start with the wide tooth comb then smooth with the boar bristle. Gently.

GOOD LUCK!

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14 thoughts on “How To Wash Suri Alpaca and Mohair

  1. Zia89 says:

    In the tutorial you mentioned having conditioner on hand but then never mentioned using it. I’m working on washing my first batch of alpaca right now and I’ve done two washes so far but I’m starting to get like lots of little frizzy flyaways when I handle the dry fiber now. Am I supposed to also be using conditioner on the fiber?

  2. RD says:

    You never made a combing tutorial? :( I can’t find it and was hoping one would be up soon.

    Thanks so much for this one though! It’s very helpful!

    • mizzmoxie says:

      Hi RD!
      I am sorry it took me so long to reply. A crazy amount of different stuff was going on in my life.
      I will be adding a note to this post about brushing right now! Thank you for asking!

      Cheers!
      Jo

  3. Erica says:

    Hi!
    I found this really helpfull when i whased my alpaca hair! I hope you can/will do a how to comb beacuse I think I am doing it wrong, lol it feels as I am trhowing half of teh hair away…

    • mizzmoxie says:

      Hi Erica!

      Yes! Don’t worry! You will lose at minumum about 1/4 of the hair you rooted when you brush it. Sometimes it can be almost half if you brush too vigorously. I personally don’t mind this because I tend to tie my roots in with too much hair per root anyway :) So the brushing out helps. I had a pretty good panic about it myself at first, but you DO get used to it and how it all works.

      Feel free to share a picture with me! I will happily add it to this blog post! You can email one to me at joebreeze at hotmail dot com
      Happy Rooting! :P
      XOX

      • Erica says:

        Well I will use it for makin wigs, and haven’t been roting it, i have only been sorting out locks, washed them and combed them into a nice bundel.
        Sure! It is still a long way to go but ofcourse I can send a picture when its done! :)

      • mizzmoxie says:

        I wish you so much luck and fun! I find it cathartic and relaxing.
        Just a tip: Save the stuff you brushed out for stuffing pet toys ( dogs go NUTS for animal fibre!!) or for birds and squirrels to use for nesting material! I sprinkle mine under trees that have squirrel nests. It’s fun to see the bits sticking out here and there around the neighborhood!
        XOX

      • Erica says:

        Oh, I who just throwed it away! XD
        Well for the next half I will save it then! :)

  4. if I had read this before!! where I bought the alpaca, the seller said it was washed but I’m sure that I should have do this at home as well… thank you for sharing Jo

    • mizzmoxie says:

      You mean someone actually found this useful!? hehe
      You are so welcome!
      I know what you mean too, I have gotten fibres that really could have used more washing, so after I do my roots I always give them a wash and style. Or a wash, wash wash and style :P
      PS.. don’t overwash though as you can washout the natural oils in the hair and it becomes dry, unmanageable and ugleh :(

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