Wool is pretty amazing. It keeps you warm on winter expeditions, cool on summer treks and it does all this while resisting dirt and odour. So, in a way, this actually makes wool easy to care for – seeing as it does a lot of the hard work on its own. But with a little extra effort from you, your wool garments really can last a lifetime.
Washing Wool Garments
Because of its dirt- and odour-resisting properties, you don’t actually need to wash wool that often. In most cases a good airing outdoors or in a humid environment (like in the bathroom when you shower), should be good enough. However, if you do notice marks or smells then it is ok to wash wool.
You should first check the washing instructions on the product’s care label, as some wool should never be machine-washed. Secondly, if it’s just a small dirty mark it’s better to hand wash that area, rather than wash the entire garment. Not only does this save energy and resources, but it also helps extend the lifetime of your product.
If it can be machine-washed, use a mild or wool-specific detergent, a low temperature and, if possible, the wool or hand-wash setting on your washing machine. Because wool is made of proteins, ordinary detergents can break down the amino acids in the fibres and remove the wool’s natural lanolin. This makes the fibres weaker and dryer and can eventually cause holes to form in your favourite wool shirt.
If hand washing, don’t leave wool clothing soaking for a long time. Instead, lift it in and out of the water several times then remove excess water with a towel. Do not wring it out. Reshape the item after washing and lay it flat to dry.
Do not tumble dry your wool clothing. This will lead to shrinkage, pilling and a general decline in the quality of your wool garment.
Storing And General Maintenance Of Wool Garments
To avoid discolouration, store your wool garments away from direct sunlight. We suggest a clothes cover, or a cardboard box to keep your wool items aired but out of reach from wool-hungry insects and moths. Note that long-term storage on hangers may result in stretching and loss of shape.
Some types of wool may start to pill, especially in certain areas like the sleeves and sides of the body and on the back if you carry a backpack. This is natural and doesn’t affect the garment’s functionality. But nobody wants a scruffy looking wool sweater. So it’s best to remove it regularly. There are devices that remove pilling. Simply run the device over the surface of the garment and shave off the bobbling. But don’t push too hard; the device is like a small razor so it could damage the garment if you use too much force.