The wonderful thing about merino wool is that you don’t have to wash it often. The natural structure of merino wool fibers reduces the proliferation of odor-causing bacteria. This makes for a less stinky shirt and allows you to reduce the number of times you wash your garment. This also is the reason many people choose merino wool for all-day activities, like ski-touring, and travel.
Merino wool is also fantastic to wear every day, at work or at play, and so you will want to wash your merino wool garments from time-to-time. Not to worry, this is easy and painless and we’ll show you how in these simple steps. If you are going to remember any one thing from this article, that is DON’T MACHINE DRY YOUR WOOL. There, I said it once, and I’ll say it again later. Now, follow these steps to increase the longevity of your wool garments:
Turn garments inside out to reduce the piling on the surface of the fabric. The abrasion of the wash cycle could cause the individual fibers of merino wool to separate from the yarn, forming tiny little balls of fibers on the fabric. This is normal, and happens to all cut-staple and natural fiber fabrics, especially wool.
Find yourself a mild soap, preferably eco-friendly. Definitely no bleach or fabric softeners. Detergents with perfume additions or “scents” are also no good, those products leave a residue on the fabrics, which will impede the natural comfort, sweat wicking, and odor-eliminating abilities of the wool.
Machine-wash on gentle cycle (because of the abrasion) in cool water. Warm water is probably fine, but every machine has different settings and heat can potentially shrink wool.
DON’T PUT YOUR MERINO WOOL IN THE DRYER. It will shrink. The combination of heat and friction causes the fibers to contract and the yarn will shrink in length. Air-drying is the way to go. Preferably by lying the wool garment on a flat surface as opposed to hanging.
That’s it, folks. Remember, you don’t have to wash your wool garments often. Consider it a matter of personal preference
TREWTH TIP: You can further extend the times between washing by hanging your wool garments in a bathroom while you take a steamy shower. The steam will partially clear the bacteria-storing capillaries of the wool fibers, giving your wool shirt a fresh start. I use this trick all the time when traveling. It’s especially useful when you’re on a ski or snowboard vacation, with limited access to laundry and only one pair of long johns.