September 16, 2021
What is Merino Wool?
You may have heard or seen merino wool clothing in shops before, but may have wondered, what is merino wool, where does it come from, and what makes it so special? Merino wool is thinner and softer than natural wool, which means it is softer and easier on the skin. Other properties such as the consistency of the wool fibres mean it is optimised for absorbing sweat far better than synthetic materials such as polyester.
Qualities of merino wool
Merino wool is seen as a premium blend of wool, due to the nature of the fibre. The fibres are very thin, which means the wool feels softer on the skin.
Merino wool wicks sweat away and disperses it into the air, as the fibres are porous. This means that they absorb and extract sweat and moisture away from the skin, transforming it into a vapour, allowing the wearer to feel more comfortable and far less wet, cold and clammy, as would be the case with synthetic materials. With synthetic materials, because the sweat is absorbed in liquid form, body heat is needed to evaporate it which can leave the wearer feeling clammy in colder weather.
Merino wool possesses antibacterial properties, which removes odours from sweat when worn. This is one of the reasons why merino wool clothing is popular for activewear as it allows the wearer to keep warm and relatively dry without the worry of a sweaty smell at the end of a workout.
Keeps you warm
Another beneficial quality of merino wool is how well it retains heat. In colder weather, the thin fibres create pockets of trapped air which retain the heat from your body and are formed because of the composition of the wool.
How to wash merino wool
Read our tips below for how to wash merino wool:
Top tip: Wash the garment inside out to prevent bobbling.
- Wash the merino wool at a low temperature on a gentle machine cycle. Ideally wash at 30 degrees, on a cold cycle, and use a wool/delicates option if available.
- Wash with similar colours and wash contrasting colours separately.
- Use a mild detergent and do not use fabric softener, as this can cling to the wool and affect the natural properties of the fibres.
- Do not tumble dry the garment unless the label stipulates that you can. Always tumble dry on a low and gentle setting to avoid shrinkage.
- Do not wring out the garment
How to hand wash merino wool
If you decide to hand wash merino wool, wash it in a basin with warm water and soap. Allow the detergent to dissolve slightly before mixing it into the water to avoid damaging the fibres of the wool. Don’t allow it to soak for too long, but gently wash the garment, applying a soft cloth if necessary for stains.
Drying Merino wool
Do not dry clean merino wool!
- To dry the garment, lay it out on a flat surface, preferably with a towel beneath to absorb any excess moisture. The merino wool will be heavy when wet, so avoid hanging it up to dry as this can stretch the garment.
- Reshape the merino wool when damp.
How to unshrink merino wool
If you, unfortunately, shrink your merino wool garment accidentally, there are ways you can unshrink it. We recommend the following:
- Fill a large bowl or bathtub with warm water.
- Submerge your merino wool garment in the water.
- Add hair conditioner to the water, and a little detergent. The hair conditioner loosens and relaxes the wool strands.
- Soak and knead the garment gently in the mixture.
- Once a sufficient amount of water has been absorbed, gently knead the item again to drain out the water on the side of the basin or bathtub. Handle the item carefully.
- Lay the garment on a flat surface, with an absorbent fabric (preferably a towel) underneath the garment. This absorbent outer fabric will absorb as much water as possible from the woollen item.
- At this point, gently pull the item back into its desired shape. Work at the sleeves, bottom edges and neckline for consistency. Always ensure that the woollen item is symmetrical as you go, otherwise, it will dry in an irregular shape.
- Once this is done, lay the item flat and let it dry completely.
- Once it is dry, wash the merino wool again on a cold cycle, to remove any remaining conditioner from the garment.
Where does merino wool come from?
Merino wool originally comes from Merino sheep, a very established breed. The properties of this completely natural wool mean the Merino sheep breed is protected and prestigious. In fact, As far back as the 12th Century up until the 18th century, the merino sheep were protected from trade from its original country of Spain. The breed was then traded and today, Merino sheep are largely reared and bred in New Zealand and Australia. Until 1986 it was against the law to trade Merino sheep from Australia, and the breed is still fiercely protected because of the quality of the wool the breed is known for. Composed of the natural protein keratin (as with human hair), calcium, sodium and fat, the wool’s quality remains as soft and durable as ever.
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
We’re proud of our merino wool clothing at Absolutely Bear, not only because it offers its wearers comfort like nothing else, but because as an ethical manufacturer, we know the full story behind the wool. It has come from well treated and well-reared sheep, who enjoy a quality of life in the sun in Australia and New Zealand. That is why the wool is so soft - it is completely natural, grown with the help of fresh air, sunshine, fresh grass and water.