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How to Clean and Care for Wool Clothing

Did you know that wool is self-cleaning? This means you can “air it out” instead of washing it in the machine. We'll give you the advice you need to make the wool last season, after season, after season.

Wool is our best adventure buddy. It helps adjust your body temperature to a comfortable level, keeps you warm (or cool), and is self-cleaning. Read more about the benefits of wool here. And while wool is incredibly awesome for our active lifestyles, we can’t forget that merino wool fibers are delicate. We have to know how to care for them so they last for every adventure. Here are some tips on how to take care of your wool garments.

1. Hang your wool garments out for airing, instead of washing them every time.

Wool has a natural resistance to the growth of micro-organisms and odors, so you can use wool garments for several days without having issues with smell. The reason for this is a combination of two things: wool fibers absorb moisture and they have a negatively charged, scaly surface. Bacteria, which lead to bad smells, thrive best on smooth, positively charged surfaces – such as those synthetic fibers have. Therefore, you may not need to wash wool in the machine after use. Instead, try hanging int outside in the open air and let it clean itself. This saves both the environment (no machine washing!), and preserves the quality of the wool for longer.

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Self-cleaning: Wool has a natural bacteria resistance that allows you to wear your wool garments for up to several days without smelling. Just hang it out for airing and the wool will clean itself!

2. Hand wash stains on wool garments

If you find a stain on your wool garment, it’s important that you remove the stain as quickly as possible to avoid anything sticking. Steer clear of the washing machine and spot treatments. Instead, hold the stain under running, lukewarm water until it disappears. Gentle for the wool, the environment and easy for you!

3. Use gentle wool detergent, and wash on a delicate cycle

If the wool is so dirty that airing it out does not do the job, be sure to choose a detergent specially designed for wool washing. Always use a wool wash or delicate cycle on your machine for the least amount of wear on the garment.

Wool Clothing Care | kari traa How to was Wool| kari traa

Wool program: Always wash your wool garments on a wool or delicate program, with a detergent specially designed for wool. This will help preserve the shape and quality of the wool as long as possible.

4. Avoid contact with hard or sharp objects

To avoid scratches and holes in the wool, you should avoid washing it together with sharp objects such as zippers and buttons. Instead, put garments in delicates or washing bags, and you will be able to protect the wool from potential damage. Also be careful with the wool when you put it on; sharp fingernails, jacket zippers or buttons can cause damage.

5. Gently stretch the garment before drying, to retain shape and avoid shrinkage

If you wash the wool on a delicate washing program with a wool detergent, the wool garment should not shrink. However, should you be unlucky, you can stretch the garment carefully after washing to retain the shape and avoid shrinkage.

Wool Guide Care Guide | kari traa Take care of Wool| kari traa

Keep the shape: Should you be unlucky and wash a wool garment incorrectly so it shrinks, you can stretch the garment carefully after washing to retain the shape.

6. Remove pills with a razor

Heavy wear on the delicate wool fibers can lead to fabric pilling. To get rid of the pills, you can use an everyday razor. Traditional pill shavers can easily cause holes in clothes if they get hold of a small thread. With a razor, you avoid getting strands when removing the pills. Using a simple razor with sharp blades, simply pull it over the area with the pills and voila! Good as new. Make sure you don't push the razor hard against the garment.

7. Store your wool garments properly

It’s common to pack away your winter-weight wool when summer arrives. In order to avoid moths and other insects on the clothes when stored, it is important to pay attention to how the clothes are packed away. The scholars can’t agree upon whether wool clothes should be packed in cardboard boxes, suitcases, boxes or plastic. The problem with plastic is that condensation and moisture may occur during temperature changes. A general rule should be to store the wool in something that is dense – and the most important thing is that the wool clothes are dry and clean when they are packed away.

8. Learn how to mend holes in the wool yourself

It’s not always the washing machine’s fault our wool garments have holes in them. Clothes moths and certain types of beetles can be a common cause of holes in wool. Remember that you do not have to throw away wool, even if there are holes in it. Learn how to stitch the holes yourself, or make the garment into something else! How about a new neck gaiter? Or a headband? Kari shows how to easily you can stich the holes in wool (or create something new) in the video below.

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