Does Merino Wool Shrink In The Tumble Dryer?

If you’ve ever owned a wool jumper, you’ll know all about that uncomfortable, scratchy feeling. Woollen garments are notoriously rough and scratchy. However, merino wool is different, it’s soft and lightweight.

But will merino wool shrink in the tumble dryer? Even though merino wool has different qualities to other types of wool, it will still shrink if exposed to too much heat.

What Happens To Merino Wool In The Dryer?

There are some merino wool items that can be dried in a tumble dryer using the low setting. However, we wouldn’t recommend it because even at low temperatures, there’s a chance that your merino woollen items could become too hot and shrink.

Subjecting merino woollen items to high temperatures whether in the washer or tumble dryer will result in those items shrinking. This is the same with all woollen items regardless of the type of wool.

This is because wool has an outer layer of scales which can lock together when exposed to heat. This makes it difficult to restore the fabric back to its original size after shrinkage has occurred. Merino wool is not as bad as many other types of wool when it comes to shrinking, but it’s really not worth taking a chance.

This is why you should always wash and dry merino woollen items using no heat.

What Can You Do If Your Merino Wool Item Shrinks?

woman holding knitted wool sweaters

If the worst were to happen and your merino woollen garment did happen to shrink, there is a chance that you can restore it back to its original size. All you need to do is;

  1. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and add a squirt of hair conditioner or fabric conditioner
    The fabric or hair conditioner will relax the fibres which will help when it’s time to stretch the fabric.
  2. Soak the garment for around 30 minutes
    While it’s soaking don’t agitate the garments as this will have the opposite effect and cause more shrinkage.
  3. Gently reshape the item
    You should reshape the garment by gently stretching it by hand
  4. Air dry
    Once restored to its original size, the item should be laid flat on an airer to dry naturally.

This should work as long as the fibres haven’t shrunk too far. If the level of shrinkage is severe, you will not be able to return the garment to its original size. 

Take care to not over stretch the garment as this could lead to ruining the elasticity of the fabric. If the garment doesn’t stretch back to its original size after a few gentle stretches, return it to the soak for another 15 to 20 minutes and try again.

Once the garment has dried properly and is back to its original size, it should be washed again to remove any conditioner residue and laid flat to dry on an airer.

How Should Merino Woollen Garments Be Dried?

Merino woollen garments are a popular choice with many people because it is a robust and elastic fabric. This makes it suitable for many types of clothing including activewear.

These attributes are all great when merino wool is dry, however, when wet, things are different. Wet merino wool tends to be more fragile and more likely to become damaged. This all means that when wet, merino wool needs careful handling.

You should never dry merino wool in a tumble dryer because of the rough and tumble action and also because of the heat. Too much exposure to heat can cause merino wool to shrink and in some cases that shrinkage is beyond repair.

You should never dry merino wool using any of the following;

  • Tumble Dryer
  • Heated Towel Rail
  • Radiator
  • Hangers
  • Clotheslines

Merino wool should never be subjected to any heat when drying whether that’s from an artificial source or even direct sunlight. Plus all merino woollen items should be dried laying flat to prevent them from stretching or becoming misshapen.

To help speed up drying times, you can lay your wet merino garment on a dry towel and gently roll the towel (with the merino item inside) and gently apply slight pressure to help squeeze some of the water from the item.

It should then be laid flat and air dried.

Can Merino Woollen Garments Be Ironed?

If your merino garment has wrinkles, we recommend steaming as opposed to ironing. Ironing is likely to crush the natural pile of the yarns which might never return to their original condition.

Lightly steaming a merino woollen garment will freshen the garment and remove wrinkles without causing any structural damage to the fabric.

What Happens To Merino Wool When It’s Washed?

Always check the wash care labels

We all live such busy lives nowadays and the washing machine is a convenient way to get all of our clothes clean. You can wash merino woollen items (subject to the wash care label’s instructions) in a washing machine as long as you select a gentle or delicate cycle and use cold or lukewarm water.

The Best Way To Wash Merino Woollen Garments

You can safely wash your merino items in the washer as long as you follow these steps;

  1. Select A Gentle/Delicate Cycle
  2. Select A Cold Wash
  3. Use A Mild Detergent
  4. Avoid Using Bleach

What Is Merino Wool?

Merino Sheep

Merino wool is a type of wool that is produced by sheep of the merino breed. This type of sheep is more commonly found in New Zealand and Australia.

It is well known for being extremely fine, soft and lightweight. It is also breathable and regulates temperature very well, keeping you warm in cold conditions and cool when temperatures rise.

Merino wool is used to make many types of garments including activewear.

SEE ALSO: What’s The Lowest Heat Setting On A Tumble Dryer?

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you put merino wool in the dryer?

If you put merino wool in the dryer, the item is likely to shrink. This is true of all woollen items. This is because wool has an outer layer of scales which can lock together when exposed to heat. 

Why did my merino wool shrink?

The most likely reason for your merino wool to shrink is that it was subjected to high temperatures either during washing or drying.

Does 100% merino wool shrink?

Yes, 100% merino wool does shrink if it is exposed to high temperatures and the rough and tumble action found in washing machines and especially tumble dryers.

Can you reverse merino wool shrinkage?

As long as the shrinkage isn’t too severe, it is possible to reverse it. Try soaking the garment in lukewarm water and hair or fabric conditioner for around 30 minutes. Then gently stretch the garment back into its original size and shape.

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