[Infographic] How to Effectively Wash Merino Wool

[Infographic] How to Effectively Wash Merino Wool

Posted by David Lin on 2020 May 20th

You’ve just bought an amazing piece of merino apparel and let’s face it, it was an investment.

So how do you keep them in tip-top shape?

It’s easier than you think!

Our company has been featured for producing some of the best merino wool padded socks on the market, so we happen to know a thing or two about merino wool.

In this article, we’re going to show you our tips to best care for your merino wool apparel.

Table of Contents

The Fundamentals

There are a few tried and true rules when it comes to washing any type of merino wool. You can’t go wrong with these tips.

Let’s review them.

What type of merino wool blend do you have?

Our first tip is the most obvious one: read the label.

Why? Merino wool is a high quality material and can be very expensive. Manufacturers and brands often blend their apparel with other fabric blends—like nylon, spandex, polypropylene, or polyester—which could require special attention.

But it’s not just about cutting costs. Blending can make the fabric lighter, stronger, and drying faster without sacrificing the many benefits of merino wool. Believe it or not, fabric technology is a real thing! Fabric designers would combine and change fabric blends depending on the occasion or use case.

So before you do anything else, we highly recommend that you read the labels. Follow those instructions above these mentioned below for the best results, as manufacturers will take into the account on the properties of your particular blend

But what happens if you no longer have the label or lost the care instructions? Or you happen to be a curious mind: researching the properties of merino wool?

We got you covered. The rest of our guide can help.

Do’s and Don'ts: Our Recommended Guide To Merino Wool Care

Here’s what we recommend you do when it comes to merino wool care:

  • Do wash on low to medium (86°F/30°C) temperature. With hot temperatures, you run the risk of shrinking the garment.
  • Do turn your merino wool inside out before washing. This helps keep it from pilling and protects the printing on the front.
  • Do wash with like colors. The last thing you’d want to do is have unwanted colors bleed into your brand new merino garments.

Meanwhile, we highly recommend you avoid doing the following:

  • Don’t use fabric softeners. Merino wool is delicate and already extremely soft. Fabric softeners can sometimes form a coating on the wool and reduce their ability to regulate body temperature.
  • Don’t dry clean as the detergents could harm the fabric. Not only is it an added expense, but opt for handwashing to reduce the amount of water used.
  • Don’t use bleach. Bleach can destroy the wool fibers of your merino wool garments

More often than not, merino wool blends are strong enough to allow for machine washing, so we’ll cover those tips next.

Care Tips for Washing Merino Wool by Machine

These tips are specific to wool apparel that allows for machine washing.

Again, we always recommend reading the label before tossing them in the wash.

  1. Make sure to use a cold or warm temperature cycle if the label allows. Do not wash in the hot cycle under any circumstance.
  2. We recommend running your washing machine on the wool or gentle cycle settings. Again, merino wool is a soft and delicate fabric. Using the gentle cycle can help prevent your garments from pilling.
  3. If you have an expensive merino wool garment, some manufacturers may call for a wool specific detergent. Otherwise, your regular powder or liquid detergent will likely do just fine.
  4. We recommend air drying the garment to reduce your chances of shrinking the wool.
  5. But if you’re in a hurry, you can attempt to tumble dry on low temperatures.Again, be sure to read the label as different fabric blends may be more resistant to shrinkage from heat.
  6. Where feasible, we suggest washing each piece of merino wool separately to reduce the chance of pilling. This is why hand washing can prolong your garments especially for delicate merino wool blends or garments made of 100% merino wool. However, hand washing isn’t always practical.
  7. Wash merino with harder fabrics like denim if you’re including them in a full load. Soft fabrics like cotton can increase the likelihood of pilling.

What if you’re not sure if your garment is machine washable? If you’re the type of person that likes to prolong your purchases and don’t mind taking extra effort to care for your clothing, then washing by hand may be right for you.

We’ve got hand washing care tips for you covered in the next section.

Care Tips for Washing Merino Wool by Hand

If your label recommends hand washing only, there are a few key instructions you’ll want to follow that are different from machine washing.

  1. Before you begin, gently dab with luke-warm water on existing stains on your clothes to remove easy spots.
  2. Next, soak your garment in luke-warm water for 10 minutes inside a basin. Don’t leave the garment idle for too long or you risk shrinking your garments.
  3. Gently rub away and swish the stains with mild detergent. No harsh wringing during this stage.
  4. Rinse in luke-warm water again followed by a cold rinse for a few minutes.
  5. Carefully press the water out of the garment. Do not wring out or put on a hanger. Doing so can deform the shape.
  6. Afterward, lay the item flat on a drying rack in an area with fresh air and away from direct sunlight which can discolor the fabric. Take care not to stretch the wool.
  7. If your garment has deformed, the best time to reshape your clothes is when the garment is damp. Gently pull your garment to reshape back to the original shape as needed.

Additional Care Tips: How to Maximize the Lifetime of Merino Wool

While not deal breakers, these tips will help you maximize the lifetime of your merino apparel.

Before and during the first wash

  • We recommend you first wear the merino wool 2 or 3 times before considering the first wash.
  • During the first wash, we recommend washing it separately if you are using a machine or simply handwashing. Refer to the hand and machine washing tips above.
  • Close all of the zippers both on the merino apparel or other articles of clothing that are mixed in with them. You want to ensure the wool doesn’t get snagged on the teeth of the zippers.
  • Avoid washing large wool garments like sweaters in the washing machine. These are best hand washed.

Can I iron merino wool?

Ironing your merino clothes is not recommended. If the label allows for this, then ensure you don’t iron over the print or other labels and select the cool or wool setting if available.

For added protection, use another cloth on top to press down on the garment during the ironing. In general, you’ll want to keep the garments away from any heat source.

If you are rack drying, placing towels on top can expedite the drying process.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

You’re already helping reduce your carbon footprint by washing your merino wool less, why not go one step further?

Whenever possible, reuse your merino clothes by transforming them into another item. Are your merino wool socks nearing the end of life? Just cut off the ends and turn them into coffee holders. Get creative!

Also believe it or not, if your garment is made of 100% merino wool, then it is biodegradable. Talk about being amazing for the planet. Be sure to check the label for the material breakdown.

Merino Wool Benefits

Merino wool is a remarkable fabric. The amount of natural benefits it comes with would make you wonder how you didn’t discover it earlier.

Here are just some of the reasons why so many consumers gravitate towards merino wool products.

Naturally odor resistant means less washing

One of the major benefits of merino wool is its natural odor-fighting capabilities. The wool can absorb these odor-causing bacteria and block them from growing as they do on cotton fabrics.

By keeping the skin dry, the microbes have a harder time finding something to hold on to in order to produce odor in the first place.

In turn, this means you don’t need to wash merino wool after every single use. Instead, you can go an entire week (or longer depending on your usage patterns) without washing your garment.

Wearable all year round

Since merino wool can regulate your body temperature in all seasons, they are the perfect fabric to wear all year.

Keeping you cool in the summers with the moisture wicking benefits and warm in the winters, not having to buy a complete separate wardrobe has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Storing Merino Wool

If you decide you want to store your merino wool for the season, you’ll want to read these tips carefully. This can make the difference between another season of comfortable soft wool and one marked by holes from infestations.

  1. Make sure you wash it one last time using the instructions above and check that there are no odors coming from the garment
  2. Take an extra day to ensure the wool is completely dry
  3. The storage area should be in an area that gets regular weekly cleaning. When in doubt, do a round of vacuuming.
  4. Store the wool in a cotton storage bag with a natural insect repellent such as heartwood of cedar. Make it as airtight as possible during storage. We don’t recommend storing in plastic bins for seasonal storage.
  5. Lay items flat when possible and never roll them up, especially for socks. This can cause distortion over long periods of time.

What happens if pilling occurs with my merino wool

Have you ever seen those little balls of fabric that accumulate after a few washes in the machine? Those are what we refer to as pilling or bobbles. This can occur when there is too much friction between garments during the wash cycle.

There are a couple of ways to help prevent this:

  • Make sure your garment is inside out.
  • Hand wash your garment instead of machine washing it
  • Ensure you are using the gentle or wool cycles if they are available on the machine to reduce the amount of friction.
  • Wash the merino wool with a coarser fabric such as denim jeans.

Over time, the pilling should start to go away on its own with the provided instructions above.

Help! My Merino Wool has an Odor

Though merino wool is highly resistant to odor, if your garment does start to smell, you can pre soak it in cool water with a ¼ cup of scented vinegar for 30 minutes. Then, just follow the machine or hand washing instructions from above to complete your wash cycle.

The Lifetime of Merino Wool

As with all-natural fabrics, merino wool will eventually break down, but how long does this take?

While it certainly varies depending on how often you wear the garment and what types of activities you do regularly, you can expect your merino apparel to last several years if taken care of properly.

We certainly hope that this was a useful guide to increasing the enjoyment and longevity of your merino wool!

References

https://www.trekmates.co.uk/merino-wool-care-instructions https://www.thelaundress.com/how-to/merino-wool.html https://www.mountainwarehouse.com/expert-advice/how-to-wash-merino-wool https://www.minus33.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Wool-Care-InfoSheet-WebVersion.pdf https://www.marthastewart.com/264609/the-basics-of-mothproofing https://www.smartwool.com/discover/how-to-wash-wool-socks.html https://www.icebreaker.com/en-us/customer-service/service-product-information.html https://www.trespass.com/advice/merino-wool/ https://www.woolmark.com/about-wool/wool-care/washing-wool-socks/ https://www.kathmanduoutdoor.com/summit-journal/expert-advice/how-to-wash-merino-wool