Does Merino Wool Shrink When Washed or Dried?

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Merino wool is fuzzy and warm, a staple for the winter months. But does it shrink? The answer will surprise you! If you’ve ever wondered about how long it takes for an article of clothing to lose its shape or shrink, read on to find out!

Merino wool is one of the best materials for clothing, bedding, and other textiles. Its natural warmth and breathability make it perfect for the colder months, and its gentle odor resistance makes it a go-to for any situation where you need to worry about lingering smells.

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What is Merino Wool?

Well, it’s not wool! Merino wool is derived from merino sheep, which tend to be smaller animals than the ones used for traditional wool. This means that their meat products are also small, and this doesn’t leave much wool. But where there’s a need, there’s a way.  

Merino was first introduced in Australia in 1797 when the first wave of merino sheep was imported from South Africa and Tasmania. From here on out, merinos became a staple of Australian farming, and the product derived from them became known as “merino” in comparison to “wool” which comes from an older breed. Australia was the first to use merino wool commercially. Today, it’s very popular, used in woolen and blended yarns.

Merino is very fine wool because of its high Merino Wool Shrink Test fibers. But guess what? This is exactly what makes it shrink. Merinos’ very fine fibers make them more prone to wrinkles compared to traditional woolen sheep. If you’ve ever tried on a shirt and it seemed to hang on your frame when you moved, this would be because there were wrinkles caused by the merinos’ fibers pulling into the fabric from your movements.

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Does Wool Shrink?

Is wool shrinking? Yes, wool does shrink. However, this may not be bothersome. You’ll be able to handle the size of your item with ease. There’s no need to fret about it shrinking because you have all the control in the world over what you can do to prevent it from shrinking. 

For starters, you could skip the hot water in your washing machine and opt for a tepid temperature setting instead. As a rule of thumb, tepid water is just warm enough to be bearable on your skin. When you’re air drying your clothing, you’ll want to make sure that it’s not hung in the sun.

Does Merino Wool Shrink?

Merino wool does shrink! However, its shrinkage can be lessened or avoided if you take the right steps when washing and drying it. If you wash and dry merino with the right steps, you can rest assured that you won’t end up with holes in your favorite merino pieces.

Merino wool may shrink, but not in the same way that other types of wool tend to shrink. Even if they are pulled on by their tips, the Merinos’ fibers are too small to cause any lasting damage to your garment. They’re not likely to shrink significantly if you’re using warm water and are careful in your drying methods. 

You can start by choosing the right washing method for your merino fiber. This is a direct result of the material’s composition, so you’ll be able to choose whether or not it loses its shape under certain circumstances. If you want to prevent your clothing from shrinking, it may be worth taking the time to find a way that merino wool shrinks less.

Why Does Merino Wool Shrink?

Merino wool is non-irritating to the skin, but how does it respond when stretched? Generally, it will take longer for merino wool to shrink than other types of wool. This is due to its very fine fibers and the fact that when it shrinks, it shrinks in a very specific way.

Merino wool tends to shrink lengthwise, and not width-wise. This makes it great for sweaters and other clothing that have a very defined shape. That’s great because it means you can buy your skinnies a bit too long and they’ll shrink just enough to be the perfect length!

Merino Wool’s Shrinking Abilities But what about when you’re washing merino wool? It doesn’t seem like it should shrink at all, does it? Well, the length of time that it takes for a piece of merino wool to shrink will vary depending on your circumstances.

Washing Your Merino Clothes Properly

The first thing you want to do when washing your merino cloth is washed it by itself. It doesn’t matter if there’s any detergent in the fabric. The best way to know if your clothes shrank is to try them on, and that’s what you’ll be doing when you wash your clothing.

If they fit, you’re set! But what if they don’t? If the clothing shrinks too much and doesn’t fit, it’s because the length of the fibers has changed. In this case, a little bit of water-based detergent can help so that the fabric will soak up some of the soap’s surfactants and help evenly distribute it to other parts of the cloth. This will also help with any shrinkage in width as well since there will be a lot less surface area for water to attack.

How to Tell If Your Merino Wool is Shrunken?

Now you’re wondering how you’re going to tell if your merino clothing has shrunk. While it may seem like it’s impossible to tell whether or not the wool has shrunk, there’s a simple way. 

A small piece of masking tape can be applied and then removed. When the tape is removed, it will have left behind some sticky residue that you can roll between your fingers. If the wool doesn’t seem to have shrunk at all, you’re good to go. If it shrinks a little, you can use the second piece of tape and try again.

If the pattern on your clothing seems a bit different (or if your sweater hangs differently than before), then you’ll need to wash it again and try again. Once you’ve washed it again, you can use more tape to help determine whether or not the wool has shrunk.

But even with all this tape and experimenting, it’s still hard to tell whether or not the wool has shrunk. And you don’t have to. A simple way to determine whether the percentages of fibers are the same is called the Merino Wool Shrink Test. This test uses a piece of fabric of your choice (usually an old pair of pajamas), and then you measure how much the wool shrinks when it’s stretched. To do this, mark your fabric with a permanent marker at the end of the fabric before you stretch it. When you measure how many shrinks, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the fibers shrink in length or width.

Matching the Number of Fibers in Your Clothing to the Shrinkage Merino wool shrinkage is dependent on the length of fibers, so if you notice that your clothing shrinks and also has shorter fibers, then chances are it shrank in length. If you notice that your piece of wool has wider fibers and it shrank wide or short, chances are it shrank in width.

How to Maintain Your Clothing When they’ve shrunk After they’ve shrunk, the next step is an easy one. You can launder them in the same way that you would any other wool clothing. If you’re concerned that the piece of clothing will shrink again, simply buy it a little bit longer than you would like it to be.

Essentially, merino wool is woven from very fine fibers, which results in a unique shrinkage pattern. For example, it’s common for merino wool to shrink lengthwise but not widthwise. This makes it great for sweaters as you can buy your skinnies a bit too long and they’ll shrink just enough to be the perfect length!

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How Much Does Merino Wool Shrink?

Wool naturally shrinks more when it’s wet. This is because it absorbs a lot of water, and this is also the main reason why the wool fabric is usually dry cleaned rather than washed by machine. For this reason, most people aren’t expecting wool garments to have shrunk in the first place.

This means that according to your expectations, you might never see merino wool shrink. But every wool, in general, will easily shrink if you wash or pull it forcefully or with hot water.

If you think about it, it’s made from sheepskin. Sheepskin is the fur of the animal (in this case a sheep) and wool is the body hair of the animal. When you wash merino wool, do you still remember that bit of water on your palm? It’s no different from any other fabric materials you buy.

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Factors of Shrinking of Merino Wool

The following factors will determine how much merino wool shrinks:

The Elasticity Of Merino Wool

If you’re very lucky, your merino wool garment is made of a very elastic material. This means that the fibers in your clothing can be stretched and not feel tight, and it will still return to its original shape if you stretch it out again.

A high-grade merino blend, merino wool t-shirts are perfect examples of this. When it comes to pure merino wool, you can bet that it’s extremely elastic.

The Material of Merino Wool

Your merino wool is blended with another fabric material. For example, you have 50% merino wool and 50% polyester in a jacket. The percentage of merino wool means the percentage of the shrinkage of the fabric.

The Thickness of Merino Wool

You need to consider the thickness of your merino wool or the merino wool fabric. The thicker the fabric, the less elastic it is which means less shrinkage when you wash it.


The hotter your washing machine water is, the more shrinkage you get. If you’re lucky enough, only machines with cold water are available to use in your home, and this gives less chance for shrinkage to happen.

Types of Merino Wool

A lot of people think merino wool does not shrink. But actually, it does shrink. The fact is that merino wool’s shrinkage can vary from one type to another type.

So, how much does merino wool shrink? That’s a great question, and the answer is… it depends on the factors above.

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Does Merino Wool Shrink In The Dryer?

And how about drying your wool? Would a merino wool sweater shrink in the dryer? This is a question that many people ask. Merino wool pieces tend to shrink less in dryers than other types of wool.

You’ll want to keep sweaters made out of merino in the dryer only for very short periods and not exceed the machine’s maximum heat. Also, it’s ideal to remove clothes when they’re damp and don’t hang them on the line, or they may become stretched out of shape.

So, does merino wool shrink in the dryer? The short answer is yes, it does. But the good news is that it won’t shrink as much as regular wool.

Does Merino Wool Shrink When Washed?

Merino Wool’s ability to bend and reshape its shape Because merino wool is so fine and because it can resist mold, you should be able to wash your merino wool clothing in a washing machine. 

You can use a washing machine for both hand and/or machine washing. When you’re hand washing, it’s important to toss your skinnies in with a bit of soap and let them soak for a few minutes. This will help the clothing absorb any dirt that may have settled on it from your bag or pocket. After you’ve removed your merino wool from the soap, toss it in with the rest of your clothes to finish washing. 

How to Wash Merino Wool in a Washing Machine?

When washing in a machine, you can wash by hand or machine. You’ll want to use a gentle soap that isn’t designed for wool, and you’ll want to make sure that the water is warm enough that your clothing can tolerate it. If the water isn’t warm enough, then there’s a chance that mold may form. If this happens, then you’ll need to wash your clothing again.

When drying your merino wool clothing after it has been washed, try not to dry it in direct sunlight and dry it on a flat surface in an area where there is good ventilation. If you’re concerned that your clothing will shrink, simply buy it a little longer than you would like it to be.

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How to Wash Your Merino Wool Socks?

Merino wool socks fare quite well when washed in a washing machine. If you have a pair of socks that are looking dingy and dirty, then go ahead and throw them in the wash with your laundry. The machine tends to spin merino wool socks very well which will get rid of any loose dirt particles. 

Always use the gentle cycle, and check the temperature setting on your washing machine. Most machines have one that is designed for delicate items like merino wool socks. Just make sure that it’s set to the “gentle” setting.

Does Merino Wool Shrink In Cold Water?

You can wash merino wool in a cold water washing machine, but you should plan on using nice lukewarm-hot water to get the job done. Because you want to avoid any type of shrinkage, it’s always good to use a gentle soap and strain your clothing after you’ve washed it. Also, please remember that when you wash wool in cold water, there’s a chance that the wool may form into an ice cube which means that the water will freeze and suck moisture out of your clothes.

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Is Marino Wool Any Good Fabric?

  1. Merino wool is pure and natural. It’s made from a real animal and it comes from a species that doesn’t have many of the harmful ingredients that are in some types of synthetic fibers. This means that merino wool is just one type of wool. If you pick the right kind, then it’s perfect to wear in any climate and can be easily washed at home and dried at home, since washing and drying machines are common appliances nowadays.
  2. It’s a very soft fabric. It doesn’t wick heat, it doesn’t fade or shrink. It’s very resistant to staining and its fibers will not stack together.
  3. Merino wool is great for warm weather since it does not absorb heat as synthetic fibers do. This means that you can wear merino wool pieces in the summer without worrying about sweating in them or feeling uncomfortable in the hot weather.
  4. Merino wool is extremely elastic and easy to wear. It won’t stretch out and it won’t look terrible if you wear it for a month straight.
  5. Merino wool retains moisture, which keeps your body cool. This means that you’ll stay quite comfortable when wearing your merino wool clothing even when you’re in a warm and humid environment.
  6. Merino wool is very low maintenance. It’s widely known that merino wool is easy to wash and quite durable.
  7. Merino wool looks great on almost everyone. It won’t show off any awkward body parts and it can show off your natural curves perfectly.
  8. Merino wool doesn’t have much of a smell and it only has the smell of sheep—nothing more, nothing less.
  9. Merino wool is very durable because it’s a soft fabric.

How to Get the Shrinkage Out of Merino Wool?

What can you do to get the shrinkage out of your merino wool clothing? Well, if you tend to the following things, then you will be able to keep a better eye on your washing machine and check the temperature setting of your machine.

  • It is recommended that you wash your merino clothing in cold water. If you’re washing it in a washing machine, it’s best to use the gentle cycle, instead. This way, you’ll both be able to prevent shrinkage and make sure that your clothing isn’t damaged in the process.
  • You’ll want to keep your machine in the front of the house and certainly not in any spot that is underneath the sunlight so that it doesn’t heat up. When the steam and moisture are trapped underneath your clothing items, they can dry out and shrink.
  • Use a gentle soap that is free of wool.
  • You don’t want to dry your wool items in direct sunlight or the hottest heating room of your house. Think about it this way: if you hang your sweater over the air-conditioner in the hottest setting, then it will dry out and shrink.
  • Always plan on running your merino clothing on the gentle cycle at a normal water temperature.
  • If you’re worried about shrinkage, then buy a size that is larger than the actual size that you’d like to have.
  • When you’re drying, be sure to either run the dryer on the air-only or low heat setting or the dryer’s tumble dry setting.

FAQ about Merino Wool Shrinking

What Is Better Merino Wool Or Cashmere?

A lot of people often wonder if it’s better to buy merino wool or cashmere. This is an interesting question because it depends largely on what you mean by ‘better’. Are you asking which is better in terms of quality? Then cashmere is the clear winner. A lot of people also think that cashmere sweaters are more luxurious and beautiful than merino wool sweaters. The reason behind this is that a lot of designs of cashmere sweaters are very unique and different from ordinary clothing shapes.

Does Merino Wool Get Softer With Washing?

As you’re washing your merino wool clothing, you may notice some softening of the wool that you bought. This isn’t because the wool has been cleaned. Instead, it’s because the fibers themselves have been aligned. The more they’re washed in a machine and washed by hand over time, the softer the fibers get. Although merino wool is one of the softest types of fabric available, those who are allergic to wool or have sensitive skin may have an allergic reaction to it.

Can You Reverse Shrunken Wool?

To reverse shrunken wool, don’t throw your knitwear away! You can use a gently heated iron on it and heat it back up to its original shape.  This should help you get the most use out of your garments and prevent any future shrinkage. Just keep in mind that merino wool is a very soft fabric, so ironing may not be the best idea.

Does Wool Blends Shrink?

The answer is yes, wool blends will shrink. But wool blends can shrink at different rates depending on the type of blend. If you find that you have a large amount of wool blend clothing and it’s looking pretty worn out, then you may want to consider washing the items by machine. Just keep in mind that when you wash your wool blend clothing in a machine, be sure to only use cold water and to only wash for a short period by putting it on a gentle cycle. When you buy a wool blend, it’s important to look at the percentage of merino wool. If there is around 75% of merino wool in the piece, then you’ll want to machine dry your clothing and use a gentle soap.

Final Thoughts

Merino is a fine fiber that is produced from a specific type of wool. It’s known for its soft, heat-regulating qualities which makes it a perfect material for winter clothing. When it comes to washing, there is a lot that you can do to treat and maintain your merino wool clothing. You can even choose to wash it in warm or cold water.


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I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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