How to Wash and Care for Your Merino Wool Clothing

By Mark Roberts

One of the best things about merino wool is its natural odour resistance. But that's not an excuse to never wash your base layer!

Properly washing and caring for your merino wool clothing can keep it going for years. And it'll stop your base layer coming out the washing machine looking like it's been designed for small toddler...

  1. Can you wash merino wool?
  2. How to wash merino wool
  3. Merino wool washing FAQs
  4. How to make your merino wool clothing last longer
Woman trekking in the French Alps in a merino wool base layer

Can You Wash Merino Wool?

Yes! Merino wool is naturally odour resistant but you'll still need to wash your clothing once in a while. And a bit more than once in a while for your pants! Try to only wash your Merino base layers and clothing when you really need to as washing is mechanically stressful for the wool fibres. The best way to tell if your clothing needs washing is a simple sniff test: when 'slight whiff' becomes 'distinct pong', it's time to wash your clothing.

How to Wash Merino Clothing

  1. Empty any pockets, do up your zips and turn your garments inside out.
  2. To machine wash, set your washing machine to a delicate cycle at 30˚C and use a liquid detergent such as Ecover, Delicate, or Nikwax Woolwash or pure soap.
  3. For a hand wash, check your sink is clean and soak your clothing for 10 – 20 minutes in lukewarm water with a few drops of detergent. Gently agitate your clothing periodically. Then rinse thoroughly in clean water. Squeeze your clothing dry but don't wring it!
  4. Dry your Merino clothing flat, if possible or hang it somewhere airy and out of direct sunlight.
  5. Store your clothing away from hungry moths. If there's one things moths love, it's delicious merino wool fibres – it's a moth delicacy!
Woman bouldering in Slovenia in a merino wool long-sleeved t-shirt

Merino Wool Washing FAQs

We've witnessed a huge array of wool washing disasters over the years. You don't need to be afraid of washing your merino wool clothing but there are definitely some things you should avoid to keep your wool wearable for as long as possible.

Can I tumble dry merino wool?

No. Never tumble dry your Merino wool clothing. Ever. Seriously, we mean it! 

Can I wash merino wool in hot water?

Nope! This will shrink the fibres and damage your clothing beyond repair.

Should I use liquid detergent or washing powder to wash merino?

Always use a gentle liquid detergent our liquid soap flakes. Soap powder residue will cling to the fibres and inhibit their ability to wick moisture away from your body. There's also evidence to suggest that particles of soap powder can cause more wear to your clothes inside the washing machine.

Do I need to use a fabric conditioner to wash merino wool?

Another big nope! Merino wool fibres are much finer than standard wool which means they should already feel nice and soft. Not only that, fabric softeners interfere with your clothes' natural moisture wicking and odour-resistant properties.

Man cycle touring on a gravel track in Slovenia, wearing a merino wool cycling jersey

How to Make Your Merino Wool Clothing Last Longer

How to repair merino wool rips, tears and holes

Snags, tears and troublesome holes can be easily mended by darning the area using silk sewing thread. Well, we say 'easily mended' – that depends entirely on your sewing skills! Ideally, you should patch up any holes before wearing your clothes again to prevent tiny pinpricks from growing into gaping, great rips

If you don't fancy your sewing skills, you can always send it to one of our store's Repair Stations and we'll look after it for you.

How to stop your merino wool from pilling

Pilling happens when the shorter Merino fibres find their way to the surface of the fabric. It’s a natural process. To prevent pilling, we recommend washing your Merino before you wear it. If pilling does occur, pop them in the wash with a pair of jeans (make sure all zips are closed on your jeans).

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