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How to wash merino wool

Can you machine wash merino wool? What’s the best way to wash merino wool sweaters? Find out what you need to know when washing merino wool.

Updated

Woman in a grey merino wool jumper holding a sleeping dog

Key Steps

When you’re washing merino wool:

  • Check the care label.

  • Machine wash inside out with non-biological detergent, on a gentle cycle if necessary.

  • Alternatively, soak for five minutes in lukewarm soapy water, then rinse.

  • Air dry flat, away from direct heat.

Merino wool is fine, soft and warm. It adds a touch of luxury to any wardrobe, but you’ll want to take care of it properly. Here’s our guide on the best way to wash merino wool sweaters, socks, or any other merino wool items you happen to have.

A note on washing merino wool socks

Looking for how to wash merino wool socks? The below methods will work if they need washing, but you might actually be able to get away without washing them for a little longer. Wool socks are odour-resistant, meaning they don’t necessarily need to be washed after every wearing. Hang them to air overnight, and you might find they’re fine in the morning.

Skip the ironing after washing merino wool. Ironing is both risky and unnecessary; merino wool naturally resists wrinkling.

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Can you machine wash merino wool?

You should always check the care label on your clothes for specific washing advice, especially when you’re dealing with an expensive material like merino wool. Washing machine cleaning is riskier than hand washing, but many merino wool garments can safely be cleaned in the washing machine if you follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose the cycle.

    Some merino wool items can actually go into the washing machine on a regular cycle with the rest of your laundry, if that’s what the care label suggests. Otherwise, set the washing machine to the wool, delicates, or hand wash cycle.

  2. Wash your merino wool items inside out.

    If they have a zip, zip them up.

  3. You can use a regular non-biological detergent for merino wool.

    Don’t use biological detergents on any wool items.

  4. Don’t use fabric conditioner when washing merino wool.

    Save the Comfort Pure for the next load.

  5. Don’t use a tumble dryer.

    See ‘How to dry after washing merino wool’, below, for drying advice.

Merino wool: How to wash it by hand

Hand washing tends to be the safest option for washing merino wool sweater. It might sound like a pain, but it’ll only take you a few minutes.

  1. Fill your sink or a tub with lukewarm water

    and a small squirt of non-biological detergent.

  2. Leave your merino wool in there

    to soak for about five minutes

  3. Don’t sweep the wool around or rub it against itself

    ... but you can gently agitate the water with your hands for a few seconds every minute or two. If there’s a stain you want to pay attention to, blot it with a soft cloth.

  4. Rinse the garment

    under lukewarm running water.

How to dry after washing merino wool

Merino wool can shrink in the tumble dryer, so it’s best to air dry it. The water in the fibres can also pull your merino wool clothes out of shape if they’re hung up while wet. That might not be a big concern of yours if you’re washing merino wool socks. If you came here looking for how to wash a merino wool sweater, though, you’ll want to dry your sweater flat.

  1. If the wool is dripping wet, don’t wring it.

    Just gently squeeze out the excess using a towel.

  2. Get a dry towel and lay the clothes out on it.

    Make sure they’re shaped correctly. If they’re left misshapen when they’re wet, they’ll be misshapen when they dry.

  3. Leave the towel flat on the floor while your clothes dry.

    Choose somewhere unobtrusive, well-ventilated and away from direct heat. This could take a few days.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

And now you know how to wash merino wool! If your wash doesn’t go entirely as planned, though, we have a page on how to unshrink wool.

Originally published