The Secret Life of Sweaters: Merino vs. Lambswool

Is your sweater made out of Merino wool or lambswool? What you need to know:

Merino wool 

Merino wool is thinner, cooler, and tends to have less pilling. Regularly used in high-end performance athletic wear, Merino wool is much preferred over synthetics. “Merino” is the name of the special breed of sheep credited with having the softest wool and best dance moves.


Lambswool is warmer, a bit itchier, and tends to drape and hold its shape better. The main distinction of lambswool is its “virgin” status. Harvested at the first shearing of a seven-month-old lamb, it has incredible spinning qualities allowing for truly beautiful knits.

Both contain lanolin, which has antibacterial properties to keep you fresh as a daisy.

Unlike cotton, wool fibers are easily damaged by heat and need a little tenderness when it comes to washing. Follow these fool-proof steps and save yourself a trip to the dry-cleaners.

1. Soak in a (clean!) sink or tub filled with luke-warm water and 3-4 drops of a mild detergent for ten minutes. If it’s smelly, add ¾ white vinegar to neutralize odors– dunk in the sweater and swish gently.

2. Rinse by balling the sweater up and gently squeezing out the excess water– be careful not to wring or stretch it. Refill the sink or tub with clean, lukewarm water and swish to rinse. Repeat with clean water until detergent is gone.

3. Lay sweater on a flat surface away from sun and heat to dry. Arrange it into its desired shape– square the shoulders and place the sleeves parallel to the body.

4. Fold and place in a drawer or shelf– do not store it on a hanger. Storing a sweater on a hanger for an extended period of time can stretch and misshape the shoulders.

Wrinkles on your sweater? If you have a steamer, great! If you don’t, protip: put your sweater on a hanger and hang on a bathroom hook during a hot morning shower. The steam will do the work!

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