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First post here; a friend just sent me a box of sewing supplies, including quite a few yards of fleece and felt fabrics. Problem is she lives with cats and I'm mid-level allergic (not have-to-go-to-the-ER bad, but bad enough that I'd like to minimize contact).

Two of us in my house are similarly allergic, so it's massively important to me that however I clean this leaves no residue in our washer/dryer.

It's safe to assume that these fabrics have been sitting in her house for a period of months to years, likely with extended contact in some cases. I'm loathe to just throw the whole box away (it was a surprise gift, and very thoughtful) but health has to come first.

What's the best way to wash the fleece/felt to get the cat hair off, without compromising our laundry machines? In a serious pinch I could lug everything to the nearest laundromat, is that going to be the best way to go? Can I get away with just buying a lint roller instead? Alternatively, is the fabric just too compromised and I'm better off throwing it all away?

I don't own pets so my cat knowledge is limited.

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It's almost certainly cat dander, saliva, or urine that you're allergic to, rather than the hair itself. Washing the fabric in hot water should neutralise any of those allergens, and also leave your washing machine free of allergens. Check that the fabric is safe to wash in hot water.

As a practical matter, I would make every effort to remove the cat hair before washing; otherwise the hair can work its way into the fleece. The lint roller you suggested sounds like a good idea to me. If you don't have one you can make one by wrapping tape around your hand, sticky-side out, and pressing down on the fabric.

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  • Fleece is traditionally washed in warm water only as hot can do damage - is it likely that warm water won't do anything to the allergens? – Alex Apr 28 '17 at 14:41
  • The principal allergens are two or three enzymes found in the cat’s saliva. Because cats clean themselves by licking themselves, these enzymes end up on their hair and dander. Rinsing with plenty of water would get rid of them. Remaining hair, once washed clean of the enzyme, should then no longer pose a problem. – user149408 20 hours ago

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