Man wearing a merino wool top about to go for a run on Dartmoor

How to Wash and Care for Your Merino Wool Clothing

By Kenny Stocker>

Properly washing and caring for your merino wool clothing is essential to ensure it performs at its best for many years.

Merino wool is known for its softness, warmth, and moisture-wicking properties, making it a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts. However, to maintain its unique qualities and ensure longevity, merino wool requires special care. In this guide, we'll explore the best practices for looking after your merino wool clothing, ensuring it stays in pristine condition for years to come.

Understanding merino wool

Merino wool is derived from Merino sheep and is celebrated for its ultrafine fibres, which are significantly softer than traditional wool. This natural material is biodegradable, naturally odour-resistant, and offers excellent temperature regulation. However, its fine fibres also mean it's more delicate than synthetic fabrics and other types of wool, necessitating gentle care.

  1. Can you wash merino wool clothing?
  2. How to wash merino wool clothing
  3. Merino wool washing FAQs
  4. How to care for your merino clothing so it last longer
  5. Professional aftercare services
Woman trekking in the French Alps in a merino wool base layer

Can you wash merino wool clothing?

Yes, and you should! The reason some people are cautious about washing is their fear of shrinking their garment. Water by itself does not shrink wool, the culprit tends to be excessive heat and friction in the washing process. We are going to tell you how to avoid this.

How often should you wash merino clothing?

Thanks to wool's natural properties you will not need to wash it as often as synthetic fibres. This is great when you are on a big adventure, it saves water and is good for the environment! Out on the trail you should easily get 3-4 days of use out of a baselayer before needing a wash. You may feel more comfortable washing socks and underwear more regularly - you may be surprised how far you can push it!

How to wash merino clothing

Before you start: Wool garments can shrink when exposed to the high heat and friction generated by washing machines and dryers. Never wash above 30˚C and do not tumble dry.

  1. Empty any pockets, do up your zips and turn your garments inside out.
  2. Hand wash. This is the safest way to wash your merino wool garment. Check your bowl is clean and soak your clothing for 10 – 20 minutes in lukewarm water with a few drops of detergent. Gently agitate your clothing, then rinse thoroughly in clean water. Squeeze your garment dry, do not tightly wring it!
  3. Machine wash. Set your washing machine to a delicate cycle no higher than 30˚C and use a liquid detergent such as Ecover, Delicate, Nikwax Woolwash or pure soap. Place the garment in a mesh laundry bag to prevent snagging.
  4. Dry your Merino clothing flat or hang it somewhere airy and out of direct sunlight.
  5. Store your clothing away from moths. If there is one thing hungry moths crave, it is delicious merino wool fibres.

Merino wool washing FAQs

Here is a summary of some things you should do, and not do, to keep your wool wearable for as long as possible.

Can I tumble dry merino wool?

Never tumble-dry your Merino wool clothing. The high heat can shrink or misshape your garment.

Can I wash merino wool in hot water?

Never wash your merino in water hotter than 30˚C. It can cause shrinkage and pilling.

What about merino wool / synthetic blends?

Merino wool / synthetic blends, such as those found in our Merino boxers and Long Johns have increased durability and are less susceptible to shrinkage, however, we still recommend treating them with the same loving care you would give to your 100% pure wool garments.

Is it better to use liquid detergent or washing powder to wash merino?

Always use a gentle liquid detergent or liquid soap flakes. Do not use powder-based detergents because particles can cause wear to your clothes inside the washing machine and leave a residue that will cling to the fibres and inhibit their ability to wick moisture away from your body.

Can I use a fabric conditioner to wash merino wool?

No! Fabric softeners interfere with your clothes' natural moisture-wicking and odour-resistant properties. Merino wool fibres are also much finer than standard wool and naturally soft.

Man cycle touring on a gravel track in Slovenia, wearing a merino wool cycling jersey

How to care for your merino clothing so it lasts longer

Merino wool is a natural product and can be repaired when it shows signs of wear and tear. Here are some pointers:

How to repair merino wool rips, tears and holes

Snags, tears and troublesome holes are easily mended by darning with a silk sewing thread. Patch up any holes as soon as possible to prevent tiny pinpricks from growing.

How to stop your merino wool from pilling

Pilling is a natural process and happens when the shorter Merino fibres find their way to the surface of the fabric. To prevent pilling, we recommend washing your Merino clothing before you wear it.

Seasonal Care

  • Summer: Store away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and degradation of fibres.
  • Winter: Air out between wears to maintain freshness and reduce the need for frequent washing.

Advanced merino care

  • To refresh your merino wool without washing, hang it in a steamy bathroom or use a garment steamer to remove wrinkles and odors.
  • Freeze your merino wool garment for 72 hours in a plastic bag to kill any moth larvae, as a preventative measure.

Professional aftercare services

Each of our stores has a Repair Station where our gear technicians can look after your kit for you. We believe mending is better than ending and in 2022 we made over 7100 repairs. We've now made it even easier to keep your kit going by launching our online wash and repair service. If you're not near any of our stores, send us your tired gear and our repair heroes will give it some TLC.

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