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How to wash wool


3 smiling friends wearing wool sweaters

Let’s face it. Our winter wardrobe is choc-full of woollen clothing — and for a good reason! Wool is an elastic fibre that comes from sheep, goats, alpaca, camel, llama, and vicuña. It is an incredible insulator, making it one of the warmest fabrics to wear in winter. And it’s timeless! Seriously, every cold-weather outfit looks better with wool. 

Wool is also naturally stain- and odour-resistant, meaning it needs less washing. Great for you and the planet. But when it is time to clean your woollies, this guide has everything you need to know about washing wool. So you can enjoy that chunky knit jumper, those merino socks, and that cashmere cardigan for longer. And it’s easier than you think!

Is it better to hand wash or machine wash wool?

The answer is, you can do both. Handwashing is the safest way to wash wool as it is gentler. But most woollen garments can easily be washed in the machine. Just always follow the label. Both hand washing and machine washing are safer than dry-cleaning. The solvents and enzyme-heavy detergent used at the dry-cleaners can wear out wool and cashmere. 

How to hand wash wool

  • Fill the bath with lukewarm (not hot) water and add a gentle detergent. Follow the box instructions for the amount needed. 
  • Add your wool garment and swish it around, distributing the soap. 
  • Soak for up to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse well under running water. 
  • Don’t wring wool as it can stretch the fabric. Instead, press dry by rolling in a towel. Then dry flat in its natural shape.

How to machine wash wool

  • Turn the garment inside out and place it in a mesh bag. 
  • Add wool detergent, according to the machine and load size.
  • To be on the safe side and protect against any colour run accidents its always a good shout to add in a Colour Catcher laundry sheet into the washing drum alongside you wool clothes.
  • Select the wool or delicate cycle on the machine. Your machine will then wash at a lower temperature and on a gentler spin. 
  • Remove the garments as soon as the cycle finishes to reduce wrinkles and keep them smelling fresh. 
  • Dry flat in its natural shape. Avoid hanging or putting wool clothes in the dryer.  

You’ve got the basics down! Here’s how to clean specific woollen items:

Pile of wool sweaters

Wool sweater

  • Check the label. Most are machine washable, which means you can safely machine wash without damage or shrinkage. In most cases, wool is washed at 40°C (104°F) degrees or colder. 
  • Turn inside out and place in a mesh bag to protect it.
  • Add wool-safe detergent and set the machine to the wool or delicate cycle. 

Merino wool socks

  • Turn your socks inside out and make sure they are not in a ball.
  • Machine wash on a gentle or wool cycle. Avoid hot water so as not to shrink your socks!
  • Add wool-safe detergent. Don’t use softener as it can coat merino wool fibres, making it less good at regulating heat and wicking away moisture. 
  • Some merino socks can be tumble-dried. You can always air-dry. 

Bonus: Because merino wool is odour-resistant and breathable, your socks don’t get as smelly fast. So you can wear them longer and wash them less. If you like!

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Cashmere cardigan

  • Machine or hand wash in cold or lukewarm water no warmer than 20°C (68°F). If machine washing, put your cashmere cardigan in a mesh bag or pillowcase.
  • Add wool-safe detergent. And always avoid softener, which can alter cashmere’s natural softness!
  • The drying process is important when caring for cashmere. Dry cashmere flat on a towel, away from any source of heat.

With these wool-washing tricks up your sleeve, say goodbye to shrunken sweaters and misshapen merino forever!


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