I talk all about this in my podcast Yarnspinnerstales on Episode 101. My thought was that since alpaca does not contain the scales that wool has, it will not felt as easily. Also since it does not contain lanolin, I did not need to use soap, just hot water.
This is a lovely brown suri alpaca:
This is the suri ready to wash in a small zippered mesh laundry bag:
I put two bags of suri and one large bag of Huacaya alpaca in the washer with a full tub of warm water. I let it go through the entire wash cycle. Then I put those bags into the dryer, for a low heat 20 min cycle. The Huacaya alpaca came out wonderful, but the suri ended up looking like this:
My first thought was, well that didn't work and I will toss it. Instead I started picking at the suri and found it wasn't felted or even really matted. The length of the alpaca locks had caused it to just wind around itself. And just like one can pick open a lock of wool, so could these be picked apart. Once I did the bag full it looked like this:
Beautiful! and really almost ready to spin.
This shows the Huacaya alpaca which was in very distinct locks with some crimp to them. The color is tan with a reddish band in the middle of the locks. Here it is ready in it's large mesh laundry bag.
I opened the dryer to find that all of this alpaca had escaped out of it's bag, not really a problem I just gathered it up. It was clean, completely dry and not matted. It's not ready to spin though, it will need either carding or combing.