Posted in Outdoor

As we explore new ways to make our activewear more sustainable, merino wool is a great option for going green. 

Merino wool is one key piece of kit that can have its life significantly extended with a little care.

Merino wool has become a hugely popular fabric in recent years for sport and fitness, and that’s because of its unique ability to be both warm yet breathable. Simple products like merino base layers slip neatly underneath to keep your body warm, adding an insulating layer close to the body.

It makes merino perfect for wearing while exercising or exploring the outdoors and it’s a property that’s hard to find, even in many synthetic fabrics. It shines in its ability to absorb and contain body odours that leach onto clothes.

The drawback is that caring for a wool can be difficult. But with, our guide, you’ll find that keeping your merino wool products in performance-ready condition is easier than you might think.

What is merino wool?

Merino wool

Merino is a breed of Spanish mountain sheep with wool that, apart from being naturally biodegradable (obviously), is highly thermo-regulating and capable of wicking moisture away from the skin. It’s also naturally odour resistant, supremely soft, and protective against damaging UV light. Merino production has been around since the 12th century, but it's application in sports was popularised in the late 90's by Icebreaker® merino. Now, merino wool has become a staple for colder months in sports across the world.

How to wash merino wool

Luckily, merino wool is machine washable but you must stay clear of hot water and heat as these can shrink your garment. It’s best to opt for a gentle cycle in warm or cool water.

To keep each piece working at its best for longer, you should use mild or regular detergent and avoid softeners or bleach as these destroy the natural merino wool fibres.

Hand washing should also be avoided as it can cause a residual soap build-up in the garment that can lead to odour issues. Plus, separating your light and dark washes as you would normally limits colour fading.

 How to dry merino wool

Stuffing your merino in a hot tumble drier is not a good idea if you want it to stick around. Whether it is your favourite hat, base layer, or gloves, the best way to keep each piece in top condition is to dry them on the line or lay them out flat.

You can, however, tumble dry your socks if you turn them inside-out and use on a low heat setting.

Merino wool is good at bouncing back into shape after washing so ironing isn’t always necessary but, if needed, it’s best to iron inside-out and on a cool or wool-specific setting.

Adding a thin layer between the iron and garment, such as a pillowcase, will also save any potential burning or harm to the delicate fibres.

Storing your merino wool

It is always best to clean your merino wool pieces before storing as this will prevent odour, stains, and dirt build-up.

For optimum results, storing each item folded rather than hung will reduce loss of shape.

And, if you need to pack away garments for long periods of time - such as between seasons - then sealed garment bags or containers will be your best friend in protecting the merino wool from moths and insects.

For more detailed instructions, please read your garment’s care label.

Our top picks of merino wool products

Icebreaker 200 Oasis Merino LS Crewe

Icebreaker 200 Oasis Merino LS Crewe

Natural comfort and sustainable breathability, the Icebreaker 200 Oasis Merino LS Crewe is a base layer that regulates your temperature with supreme merino fibres offering endless comfort.

Icebreaker Women's 200 Oasis Leggings

Icebreaker Women's 200 Oasis Leggings

Timeless and simple, the Icebreaker Women's 200 Merino Oasis Leggings are the perfect base layer for cold weather activities, offering all-round comfort and protection.

Bridgedale WOOLFUSION Ultra Light

Bridgedale WOOLFUSION Ultra Light

Ultralight, cushioned and with advanced ventilation, the Woolfusion Ultra Light offers extreme comfort to weight ratio and is perfect for multi-seasonal hiking.

Fohn Merino Long Sleeve Zip Baselayer (250)

Fohn Merino Long Sleeve Zip Baselayer (250)

When cold weather really hits, this winter weight Merino Wool Baselayer from Fohn is the one to reach for. Made from superfine merino for amazing warmth with built in natural technical performance, this is the base layer for your next winter adventure.

See the full list of merino wool products at Wiggle

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About the author

NChamanian's picture
Nassrin Chamanian
Published on: 22 Feb 2022

Pretty OK at bikes. Enthusiasm outstrips ability.