FAQ merino wool
Although it looks like we're heading for a beautiful late summer (Mother nature definitely has a few things to make up for), preparation is key. With that in mind, Plein Publique declares the opening of the (merino) wool season!
While you're still in holiday handwash mode, we'll refresh your merino wisdom. What are the ins & outs again? You don’t even need to ask, we’ve got you covered :).
KNITWITS A GOGO - REFRESHER COURSE MERINO
Can you wash merino wool?
Yes. But only if you insist. Whaaaaaat? Yes, you read it right! You don't have to wash merino wool, because it thrives if you hang it outside for a few hours to air. Hanging merino wool out in the fog, or in the post-shower (steam is mist too) bathroom also works wonders. Spraying it with water with a few drops of organic/essential oil added is also a good idea. Odors disappear without a trace. How is that possible? Merino wool - actually all wool - is naturally antibacterial. Musty odors don’t stick in the fiber but in the air between the fibers. Of course you can wash merino wool every now and then, but preferably as little as possible.
Does merino wool shrink? If so, how can you prevent this?
Merino wool can shrink, but only if you handle it incorrectly. The wool fiber is scaly and hooks itself to other fibers, making a wool item feel soft and fluffy. It keeps you warm because the trapped air holds on to the heat from your body. If you wash wool on high temperatures, the scales will get startled and close. The built-in air space disappears and the volume of your garment becomes smaller. Long story, sad ending: your garment has shrunk. Therefore, do not wash merino wool warmer than 30 degrees and on a wool wash program that prevents too much friction: the friction makes the scales hook together even more tightly, making the wool less 'airy', the volume of your garment decreases… etcetera, you get it.
At what temperature can you wash merino wool in the washing machine?
Never ever ever wash merino wool warmer than 30 degrees Celsius. If you do, it damages and deforms the wool fiber, which can cause your wool garment to shrink and/or felt. For the same reason, you use a wool wash program that slowly heats up to 30º so that the wool gradually gets used to the temperature and does not immediately jump into a fizzy mess. Don't you dip your big toe in the hot bath water first before jumping in? A wool wash program also washes your merino wool with fewer rotations and therefore less friction, which is especially important to prevent the wool from felting.
Do I have to use a special wool detergent for merino wool?
Yes, that would be best. We don't want to cost you, but a good wool detergent for your merino wool clothing is definitely worth the investment. Why? We’ll elaborate. Wool contains wool fat, or so-called lanolin. This fat layer ensures that wool repels other types of dirt and grease. It is also antibacterial: when wool becomes slightly damp, the lanolin turns into lanolin soap that expels bacteria. You don't want to kill those fat-good self-cleaning properties, do you? A special wool detergent keeps the lanolin layer of your merino wool item intact. In fact, sometimes it even contains lanolin and supplements the protective layer where necessary. Genius! Don't forget to not use fabric softener: if you use that, you lose all the benefits of the wool detergent.
I used the wool wash cycle, but my merino wool garment has shrunk. Wtf???
Oh no… The wool wash program was the right choice, but the crux is in the spin cycle. Make sure you set the centrifuge to a maximum of 600 rpm. More than 600 rpm = more friction = more damage to the wool fibers = shrinkage and/or felting. So choose a low speed and if your garment is not completely dry, let it air dry. It takes a little more time, but that's how it works with all good things in life :)
How can I restore shrunken merino wool?
In most cases, the shrinkage process is irreversible. But there are some tricks to at least slightly recover some volume. Submerge your garment in a bucket with lukewarm water and a dash of wool detergent. Don’t leave it in there to soak, but make sure that the fibers are wet through and through. Roll the garment in a towel and gently squeeze out the excess water. (Don't wring, hold back.) To make your item longer, hang it on a hanger that is roughly the same shoulder width as the shoulder width of your sweater or cardigan. (This is to avoid Alexis Colby shoulders, although that's the trend now...) Use a round-ended hanger so as not to pierce the knit. Let it air dry et voilà: extra length (if only that was the case for longer hair, phew). Do you want to increase the width? Follow the same procedure but place your item on a special drying rack made of gauze and carefully stretch it to the desired width. The air does the rest. Please note: this way you can manipulate the dimensions of your garment, but not give the knit back the lost lightness and volume.
Can you wash merino wool by hand?
Hand washing seems safer for merino wool, but that is not necessarily the case, unless you keep a thermometer close by at all times. 30º Celsius feels surprisingly cool so you are quickly inclined to add some hot water. Moreover, with washing by hand you do not prevent the aforementioned shock effect that can be so harmful to your merino wool. Soaking is totally a no-no. Just like centrifugation. Does that quick simple hand wash suddenly sound like a lot of hassle? Mission accomplished.
Can you dry merino wool near the heater?
Oh baby… that's a no. Wool gets startled by sudden temperature changes: it loses its frizzy fiber structure and with it just about everything that makes merino wool so fine. That heater, however tempting, is really not recommended for your merino wool. Bright sun also has the same devastating effect on wet wool. You dry wool 'in the air', preferably outside air with a soft breeze.
We have shared the most important tips & tricks with you. You're welcome :) The place where you’re always welcome as well is our shop, where the newest merino wool items are waiting to be discovered by you!