Whether you’re trying to revamp your wardrobe for the upcoming winter vacation or looking to replace your current bedding doesn’t matter. It’s essential to pay attention to the type of fabric your new clothing is made from.
Merino wool is a popular material used in apparel, bedclothes, and even furniture upholstery. The material is most beloved for being easy on the skin, especially in comparison to regular wool. But what exactly is merino wool, and is it itchy? That question shall be the focus of this post.
What Is Merino Wool?
Merino wool refers to wool obtained from a sheep species known as merino sheep.
Merino sheep inhabit much of the mountainous regions of Australia and New Zealand. The sheep are also fairly widespread across South Africa and South America.
What Makes Merino Wool Different From Regular Wool?
The term ‘wool’ basically denotes a fiber produced from animal hide. Goats, sheep, and alpacas are the most common sources of wool, with sheep wool being the most popular of the three.
Its soft nature is the main thing that distinguishes merino wool from regular wool. Merino wool is the softest fabric you can find. That’s because its fibers have a much smaller diameter compared to other types of fabrics.
Controlled breeding from the 12th century has yielded merino sheep with ultra-soft wool. Coupled with the advancements in fiber treatment and spinning technology, it’s clear why fabrics made from merino wool are the softest.
Besides its incredible softness, merino wool is also naturally warm. That’s one of the top reasons clothing made from this material is trendy among winter vacationers. The natural warmth of merino wool comes from the fact that the sheep that produce these fabrics typically live in habitats where temperatures can plummet to sub-zero degrees.
But if you’re looking for the best clothing fabric for winter weather, the chances are that you also want a less-itchy material. As such, you might have also wondered, is merino wool itchy ? The following section helps put that question into a better perspective.
Is Merino Wool Itchy?
Merino wool is itch-free. That makes it one of the best fabric materials for people with sensitive skin and even better for people recovering from physical wounds.
You can have merino clothing all day long without dealing with skin irritation.
Why Is Merino Wool Itch-free?
Regular wool fiber is considered coarse and heavy. The fiber also has a scaly surface that can easily irritate the skin. It’s those qualities that account for the material’s itchiness.
Besides causing skin irritation, the coarse and heavy nature makes these fabrics uncomfortable.
On the other hand, merino wool fiber is incredibly thin and fine. That makes it almost impossible to irritate bare skin.
Numerically speaking, the sensitivity threshold of the human skin to fiber is between 25 and 30 micrometers. Regular wool has a thickness of around 37 to 40 micrometers. That already speaks volumes about the material’s potential for causing skin irritation. For comparison, merino wool fibers have a diameter ranging from 14.5 to 23.5 microns. This diameter can be reduced to as low as 10 microns, depending on the spinning technology.
But small fiber thickness isn’t the only reason merino wool is less itchy. These fibers are also lightweight, sweat-wicking, and moisture-resistant. The combination of these features makes fabrics made from merino wool ideal for base layers.
Can Merino Wool Be Itchy In Certain Situations?
The small diameter of merino wool fibers makes it almost impossible for merino clothing to irritate the skin. However, there’s always an exception to every rule. People with highly-sensitive skin may still suffer some itchiness from using merino fiber. The same is true for people allergic to natural fibers.
Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce skin irritation caused by synthetic fabrics. These interventions may apply to merino wool fabrics in the unlikely event that these materials irritate your skin.
- One way to make the fabric less itchy is by treating it using a vinegar solution, as explained below;
- Have a bucket full of cold water.
- Add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water.
NOTE: You can use any vinegar alternative, provided it’s a renowned fiber softener.
- Turn the fabric inside out and put it into the bucket, so it’s completely submerged.
- Allow for about 15 minutes to ensure all the fibers are properly saturated.
- Drain the water.
- While still wet, give the fabric a gentle massage using a high-quality hair conditioner, paying attention not to stretch the fiber.
- Allow about half an hour for the conditioner to sit on the garment, then rinse thoroughly using cold water.
- Press any excess water from the fabric, taking the necessary precautions not to stretch the fabric out of place.
- Dry the garment flat on a towel.
- Fold the fabric neatly, place it in the freezer, and then allow it to sit overnight.
Freezing the fabric prevents coarse fibers from sticking out and irritating the skin.
Merino wool is itch-free, soft, and comfortable to wear. That makes fabrics from this material particularly suitable for people with skin issues. Merino wool is also moisture-wicking, thermoregulating, and durable. Not to mention its incredible elasticity and biodegradability. So, there’s more than enough reason to replace synthetic fabrics with those made from merino wool.