Washing merino wool: looking after merino wool will help to keep it softer for longer.

How to wash merino wool

Merino wool has lots of excellent properties that makes it a popular material for sportswear, warm winter jumpers and baby bodysuits. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to looking after your clothes that are made out of merino wool. We will show you how to wash and dry items of clothing made out of merino wool so that they are longer lasting and you can get the most out them.

Properties of merino wool: merino wool is a great material for outdoor clothing.

What is merino wool?

Merino wool is a special type of wool that comes from merino sheep. In comparison to conventional wool, it has other special properties that make it a popular material for baby, winter or outdoor clothing:

  • Merino wool is very soft and also great on your skin. The fibres of merino wool are finer, lighter and more elastic in comparison to ordinary wool, which makes it very comfortable to wear even for sensitive skin.

  • Merino wool also has excellent thermal insulation, which will help to keep you nice and warm when it’s cold.

  • It is the ideal material for functional underwear or for clothes for outdoor activities because merino wool is both breathable and great at soaking up moisture. This will help to keep you dry even whilst being active.

Tip

Merino wool has a natural ability to manage bad odours which makes it a great material for athletes that do a lot of exercise outside. The scaly fibre structure of merino wool ensures that the moisture is effectively absorbed and wicked away from the skin and this also reduces the number of bacteria that cause bad odours. Keratin in wool can also bind and neutralise odour molecules, which supports the odour resistance properties in merino wool.

How to wash merino wool

This type of wool is known for its practical properties that help to keep it smelling fresh and repel dirt. You can quite often wear clothes made out of merino wool for several days in a row if you leave them out to air overnight. This is ideal if you are going on a long hike or a long bicycle ride.

Although merino wool is known for its useful properties, this does not mean that it is completely resistant to dirt and bad odours. If your merino woollen clothes become dirty, you will need to make sure that they are gently cleaned. Below you will find the most important tips on how to wash and dry merino wool.

Washing merino wool: washing machine or handwash?

Compared to sheared wool or lambswool, merino wool is considered somewhat less delicate. The smoother and finer fibres in merino wool are less prone to bobbling when they are not washed at a high temperature and are also handled with care. This is why high-quality merino wool is usually considered a little easier to care for and can often be washed on a delicates wash program without any problems. Some manufacturers even recommend washing it on a gentle cycle so that it can be thoroughly cleaned. This will help to remove the dirt deposits from the fibres. Before washing for the first time, take a look at the care label. If handwashing is recommended, then do not wash your merino woollen clothes in the washing machine.

Washing merino wool: choosing the correct wash program and temperature

Merino wool needs to be gently cleaned whether you are going to handwash it or pop it in the washing machine. You should therefore avoid washing it at high temperatures or on a fast cycle as this could cause shrinkage or bobbling. If your merino woollen clothes can be washed in the washing machine, you should keep the following information in mind:

Washing merino wool: a close-up shot of a merino wool jumper.
  • Cold wash or at a maximum temperature of 30 to 40 °C, depending on the material composition and manufacturer's instructions.

  • Wool wash program or gentle wash program, such as delicates or handwash, alternatively an easy care program.

  • Choose a spin cycle with a low speed and maximum 600 revolutions.

Tip

Outdoor clothing made out of merino wool or wool blends often have buttons, Velcro and zips. Don't forget to fasten or do them up before putting them in the washing machine. Also, it is best to wash merino wool separately or with other items of clothing made out of wool.

Using the correct laundry detergent

What is the best laundry detergent for merino wool? As with all other types of wool, you should use a special wool laundry detergent for merino wool or alternatively a mild laundry detergent for delicate materials.

It is important that the laundry detergents do not contain bleach or proteases, as these can attack and damage the delicate fibres in wool. For the same reason, you should avoid fabric softeners, as they can stick to the special fibre structure and thus affect some of the special properties in merino wool.

How to dry merino wool

It is also important to know how to dry merino wool properly so that the delicate fibres do not get damaged. Below you will find some helpful information and tips on how to dry merino wool:

  • After washing clothes made out of merino wool, gently squeeze the excess moisture out of the fibres, but do not wring them. If the item of clothing is still very wet, you can place it on a clean towel and then carefully roll it up.

  • Dry clothes made out of merino wool lying down. You can do this by spreading a dry towel on a clothes horse and then putting the clothes on top.

  • Clothes made out of merino wool such as shirts can also be hung up to dry. It is recommended to hang shirts up, for example, on a hanger so that they keep their shape.

  • Air drying is one of the best ways to dry merino wool. However, never hang up clothes and leave them to dry in direct sunlight or near a heater as the high temperatures can damage the fibre structure of the wool. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can also cause fading.

Tip

Merino wool absorbs a lot of water and is therefore heaver after being handwashed or on a low spin cycle. Never hang up your clothes when they are soaking wet as this can cause them to lose their natural shape.

Washing merino wool: how to keep clothes made out of merino wool soft and cosy.

FAQs on how to take care of merino wool

How do you wash merino wool? Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about how to wash and dry items of clothing made out of merino wool.

Will merino wool shrink when it is washed?

If you follow the washing instructions on the care label, merino wool will usually not shrink in the wash. Compared to other types of wool, merino wool is slightly less sensitive and less likely to shrink in the wash. However, if you wash merino wool at a high temperature such as over 40°C, then it may shrink.

Can you tumble dry merino wool?

Merino wool is very sensitive to high temperatures, therefore, it should not be tumble dried just like other types of wool. However, there may be exceptions depending on the material composition. Some items of clothing are deliberately preshrunk during the manufacturing process by washing or steaming as this will minimise shrinkage after washing and drying. Therefore, it is best to follow the washing and drying instructions on the care label.

Can you iron merino wool?

Ironing merino wool is not usually necessary as it does not crease very easily. Smaller creases will usually disappear once worn. If the iron symbol on the textile label is crossed out, then you shouldn’t iron that particular item of clothing. We have put together some useful ironing tips for merino woollen clothes that can be ironed:

  • Turn the clothes inside out.

  • Choose the lowest setting and temperature on your iron for wool and silk.

  • Put a clean and slightly damp cloth between the item of clothing and the iron.

  • Put the iron briefly and gently over the area you would like to iron. However, do not place the iron directly onto the wool.

Conclusion: washing merino wool

Merino wool is a high-quality material that is suitable for both warm winter clothing and practical clothing thanks to its special properties. Make sure to follow the washing and drying instructions on the care label to ensure that your merino woollen clothes stay soft. Clothes made out of merino wool should always be washed on a delicates wash program with a mild laundry detergent and at a low temperature. You can usually wash merino wool in the washing machine on a delicates wash program without any problems unless the manufacturer explicitly recommends handwashing it. In general, clothes made out of merino wool should only be washed when they are really dirty. The fibres in merino wool are great at breaking down bacteria that can cause bad odours, therefore, you can simply leave your merino woollen clothes out to air after wearing them.

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The image sources in this text are in chronological order

Cover photo: iStock.com/gerenme

1. Image in text: iStock.com/Ridofranz

2. Image in text: iStock.com/BartekSzewczyk

3. Image in text: iStock.com/Igor Nikushin

4. Image in text: iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

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