The biggest disadvantage of merino fabrics is their tendency to shrink or Matt (ie become compressed and hard) - if washed incorrectly or exposed to heat. Merino can lose up to a quarter of its strength when wet.
General Rules to Wash Merino Wool Clothes
Use the following rules when washing merino wool:
- Use cold water with a gentle soap
- Hand wash rather than machine wash
- Squeeze rather than rub to remove stains
- Never wring out the water
- Dry flat on a towel
- Stretch the garment, because its natural elasticity will let it return to its original size
- Don’t dry in direct sunlight as the heat could cause merino to shrink
- Sometimes it might be better to turn merino socks, shirts inside out before washing/drying
- Don’t use fabric softeners as this will interfere with the wool’s ability to manage moisture
What if Merino Wool has already shrunk?
If a garment or throw has been shrunk or stretched, a trick is to place it in a bath of lukewarm water with some baby shampoo or hair conditioner to relax the fibers. Then to rinse gently and squeeze out the water, then stretch the garment to its original size. Sometimes it will be necessary to stuff the arms and body with towels to get back the shape and then to wear the garment for at least an hour a day to get it back to shape.
A tip if you are a bit worried about washing a new garment is to measure it before you wash it, and then stretch it out to those measurements to dry.
Do you know about alternatives to Merino?
Read Instructions on Labels and Follow Them
It is important to read the labels on merino products. Most merino garments can’t be dry cleaned or machine washed. Some fabrics have been specially treated and can even be tumble dried. Another problem with merino is that moths love it – so be careful of where you store it and use a moth repellent if necessary.
Read the ultimate guide to Merino.