How to wash Merino wool

Merino sheep produce nature’s highest performing natural fibre – merino wool. The secret to merino wool clothing (both its construction and care) is not messing up what Mother Nature already perfected.

Merino is easy to care for as it’s odour resistant and naturally antibacterial – so it essentially requires less washing.


Read your care label

It may seem obvious, but your starting point should be the care label on your merino garment. It’s important to know whether machine or hand wash is preferred, and how your merino is best dried.

How to wash Merino wool

When it comes to the best way to wash merino wool, here’s what we strongly recommend.

Do's

When washing your Merino wool clothing, ensure you:

  • Wash it with like-for-like colours – or separately if you can
  • Turn it inside-out before washing
  • Use a milder detergent that’s specific for wool – to help prevent soap residue settling on the fibres
  • Utilise a low temperature wool wash cycle if you have one

Dont's

There are a few products your merino should avoid, such as:

  • Soaking agents – they’ll damage your garment’s merino wool fibres
  • Fabric softener – as it can cover merino fibres which weakens their natural propensity to control temperature and moisture
Woman wearing Merino t-shirt in cafe

How to hand wash your merino wool

You may be able to hand wash some of your merino. If so, follow these steps:

  • Fill a clean basin with lukewarm water
  • Add drops of mild detergent (or soap) that’s specific for merino wool fabrics
  • Briefly soak your merino while gently agitating the water
  • Rinse your merino with clean lukewarm water
  • Press out any excess water

Also make sure you avoid wringing your merino garments – but you should reshape them while they’re still damp.

Dealing with stains

The key is to be gentle with wool products and merino is no different. Take a soft cloth and dab the stain with mild detergent for merino wool, while being careful not to stretch or rub your garment.

How often should you wash your merino wool?

With antibacterial properties, merino wool is naturally low maintenance. Of course, you’ll want to keep your merino gear clean – but there’s no need to throw it in the laundry basket after every wear.

Following low impact activities, simply air your merino out. But after a robust workout when you’ve been sweating heavily, opt to wash it.

How to manage pilling

Pilling is a natural process that happens when shorter fibres in merino wool work their way to the surface. Be sure to wash your new merino gear after its first two or three wears. Over time, the short fibres which cause pilling will come away on their own.

How to dry merino wool

The second stage to keeping your merino in its absolute best condition is the drying process.

Do's

There are some drying methods that simply work better for your merino fibres than others do. For instance:

  • Lightly spinning your merino dry
  • Employing the use of a flat drying rack
  • Rolling it in a towel to reduce excess moisture

If you’re hand washing your merino, reshape it whilst it’s still damp and dry it flat – as hanging it when heavy can stretch your garment and cause it to lose shape.

Dont's

Try not to wring out your garment and steer clear of warmth or direct sunlight – as it can cause your merino to shrink. Also refrain from using:

  • A dryer – heat can cause merino to shrink so you’re best to dry it on a flat rack
  • Dry cleaning – definitely check the care instructions on your merino’s label

To iron or not to iron

Merino’s a fabric that rebounds back into shape with ease after being washed, so it may not need ironing. Laying your merino clothing out flat or draping it over the back of a chair can help creases to naturally disperse.

If you choose to iron, select either a cool or a wool setting and turn your garment inside-out. Make sure your merino is completely dry and use a pressing cloth as a protective shield.

Taking care of your merino should be a breeze, but check the care label, air it out daily after use and wash and dry when necessary according to the advice above.

Get your essential outdoor Merino gear


More from the Summit Journal...