Does Merino Wool Shrink?

Hopefully, you’ve heard someone singing the praises of Merino wool and have considered buying a pair of socks or even a sweater made out of the fabric. But before you pay the cash, one question is likely bouncing around in your mind: does Merino wool shrink?

Merino wool doesn’t shrink because of how it is produced and the fact that it is naturally stretchy. However, this wool will shrink when washed with hot water or subjected to extreme heat.

As if Merino wool weren’t already amazing enough, it also can bounce back to its original shape even when it’s stretched to 20% of its length. Merino wool can also expand up to 30% of its width without snapping.

If you wear a Merino wool shirt, you can guarantee that it will last a long time and not stretch out of shape. And if you wear Merino wool socks, you can be confident that they will not slacken after multiple washes.

A word of advice: if you’re looking for authentic Merino wool clothing, you can’t go wrong with these websites. They’re all terrific stories, each offering high-quality and good-value Merino wool apparel.

  • Icebreaker (Feel free to browse their selection of casual and sports clothes made with Merino wool.)
  • Unbound Merino (From socks to sweaters, underwear to button-downs, shop their selection here.)
  • SmartWool (Give your feet some love with this online store’s great selection of socks, from dress socks to athletic socks to knee-highs.)
  • Ridge Merino (They’re on a mission to make men, women, and kids look good in Merino wool. Click here to see what I mean.)
  • Darn Tough (The folks here are big believers in the power of socks to make the world a better place. They have a fantastic selection of colorful, patterned, striped, and solid socks that will keep your feet happy.)
  • Falke (Offers clothing items made from a couple of fabrics, including Merino wool. They’ve got shops worldwide. Check out their selection here.)

How to Safely Wash Merino Wool?

Let’s face it, nobody likes washing. Which is why Merino wool is so amazing: it can be worn multiple times without stinking up your room. Furthermore, its anti-bacterial properties ensure that it will not develop an odor after multiple uses.

But all good things must come to an end. And for Merino wool clothing, that means handwashing or a trip to the washing machine. Don’t use detergent or fabric softener when you wash your Merino wool clothing, though—the lanolin will be stripped away, and then your base layer won’t be able to wick sweat away from your skin.

I’ll show you how to correctly handwash and machine-wash your Merino wool stuff below.

How to Safely Wash Wool Socks in the Washing Machine?

Merino wool is capable of withstanding machine washing, but you should take care to wash it on a delicate cycle to avoid damaging its delicate fibers.

However, some Merino wool socks are blended with fabrics (like rayon and spandex) unsuited for machine washing. To ensure you follow the proper steps for washing your Merino wool socks, consider reading these steps first.

  1. Set the washing machine to the wool or gentle cycle.
  2. Turn the Merino wool socks inside out.
  3. It is best to use cold water when washing wool items because warm water can shrink woolen.
  4. When you wash wool items, use a mild detergent and skip the fabric softener. The latter ruins the fibers that make wool adaptable to all kinds of weather.
  5. Air-dry the Merino wool clothing.

How to Safely Hand-Wash Merino Wool Socks?

When it comes to washing your Merino wool socks, you can’t beat handwashing. It’s cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and does the best job of getting your Merinos smelling fresh. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing the job right.

  1. Pour water into a large container or a basin.
  2. For a soft, fluffy effect, add mild detergent powder to the water.
  3. Soak the socks for about 15 minutes.
  4. Gently rub the socks against each other in a washing motion.
  5. Rinse the socks thoroughly with cold water.
  6. Let the socks air dry, flat on a surface, or hanging from a clothesline.

Can Merino Wool Socks Be Washed?

Lanolin is what makes Merino wool socks so good at keeping your feet dry. But if you wash them too often with regular detergents and fabric softeners, the chemicals in the detergents and softeners will weaken the lanolin and reduce the socks’ ability to wick moisture away from your skin.

That said, it’s best to wash Merino wool socks with care. The socks’ natural moisture-wicking and suitability for all weather conditions make them durable…and vulnerable to damage if you don’t wash them properly.

How Often Should You Wash Merino Wool Socks?

You can wash Merino wool anytime—if you’re willing to spend the time and energy doing it. It all depends on what makes you comfortable, how many times you wear your wool socks, and how hot or cold it is when you’re wearing them. Most people wash Merino wool socks about once every four days, but if you’re not a fan of laundry, feel free to go longer than that.

However, I can tell you from personal experience that if you wait longer than four days before washing your Merino wool socks, they will start to smell foul.

It is also inadvisable to wash Merino socks too often since this will destroy the fibers’ thermoregulatory and moisture-wicking properties.

Can Merino Wool Go In The Dryer?

Don’t try to dry Merino wool in the dryer. Unless included among the care instructions on the product’s label, tumble-drying will likely make your Merino wool article shrink. Even if the label says that it’s safe to tumble-dry that particular Merino wool product, set the dryer on low and use a dryer sheet to prevent static cling.

Of course, you could go ahead and put Merino wool items in the dryer, but that would be a big mistake since it’ll destroy the natural fibers in the Merino wool and make it wear out faster. Heat is definitely not your friend when it comes to Merino wool fabrics.

If you can’t see “tumble dry” on the tag, take a hint: air-dry your Merino wool, preferably on an elevated drying rack.

One more thing; Merino wool is sometimes blended with materials that aren’t unsuitable for dry cleaning, like cashmere, rayon, and spandex. In such cases, the solvents and dry cleaning chemicals will not only degrade the wool fibers but wreak havoc on the other materials.

Final Thoughts: Does Merino wool shrink?

Merino wool is perfect for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities because it wicks away moisture, is resistant to wear and tear in all weather conditions and has a long lifespan. Though Merino wool can handle being washed in hot water—within reason—you may not want to risk shrinking it.

Instead of washing Merino wool with hot water or harsh detergents, stick to cold water and use a gentle soap. You can wash Merino socks by hand or in the machine, but you must run the machine on a low setting if your mind is set on the latter.

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