What is machine-washable Merino wool and how do you care for it?
How to wash your merino wool sweaters
Words— Frank And Oak staff
The temperature is already dropping and that means it’s time for the best part of the fall season – sweaters!
What is Merino wool?
Much like cotton, wool has a long history. Its cultivation can be traced to over 6,000 years ago. And there’s a good reason for it. Wool is a natural insulator that can keep the body warm or cool as necessary. It repels dirt, stains, and water and has been proven to be a very durable and versatile fibre. It’s also fully biodegradable.
As for Merino wool – you’ve seen the name, but how does it differ from the traditional stuff?
Traditional wool is made from thick, coarse wool fibres that can be itchy and bulky. Think a traditional fisherman’s sweater from decades ago – real Hemingway stuff. What differentiates Merino wool fibres from traditional wool is that it’s sourced from a different sheep that’s called...that’s right – a Merino. Merino sheep are one of the world’s oldest and bulkiest breeds of sheep and today they are primarily raised in Australia and New Zealand.
The main benefit of wool from a Merino sheep is its warmth relative to its weight. Their thick coat is naturally breathable and keeps the sheep comfortable while the colder months, their coat provides some of the best insulation while remaining soft and lightweight. And that’s how the Merino wool in our sweaters acts – not messing with nature. These natural properties that Merino sheep enjoy simply move over to your sweaters.
How have we made it machine-washable?
While still on the sheep, natural wool is quite greasy. This grease or "lanolin" repels water on the sheep preventing it from getting cold. This natural grease has to be removed from the wool with detergent before the wool can be spun into yarn for garments. Once the wool has been spun, it must be treated to make it machine washable and is given a plastic coating so that the sweaters can be machine washed without shirking or pilling.
Frank And Oak continues to improve the materials and methods we use to bring you our new collections making clothing that is fashionable, functional, and eco-friendly. So while machine-washable Merino wool must be treated with chemicals to give it its easy-care properties, these chemicals have been certified non-harmful to the environment and to the humans to come into contact with them during production.
The yarn in our Merino wool features Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® certification which ensures that these garments contain no known harmful chemicals. Oeko–Tex conducts tests at various stages of production. Oeko-Tex's labs can screen for:
- carcinogenic colourants
- formaldehyde, plasticizers, heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury), pentachlorophenol
- pesticides, allergenic dyes, tin-organic compounds
- skin-friendly pH value
How to care for our machine-washable Merino sweaters
Until now, wool sweaters had to be hand-washed (a headache) or dry-cleaned (expensive). Now all you need to do is:
1. Turn your sweater inside-out and put it in your washing machine on the most delicate cycle. We recommend using a natural PH-neutral, mild detergent. The right detergent can minimize dye loss and keep your sweaters bright.
2. Not put it in the dryer. Also do not put it on a hanger. If you hang it, the weight of the water will pull the garment out of shape. Lay it flat to dry on a dry-rack and put the rack in the bathtub.
3. Enjoy your sweater! It still looks like new. (If it's a bit wrinkled simply apply a warm - not hot - iron.) And remember, you don't need to wash your sweaters every time you wear them. Your undershirt should protect it from most sweat and dirt and so unless you get soya sauce on it or it starts to smell a bit ripe – it will last longer and save energy to just save it and squeeze another wear out of it.
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