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 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. An incredible warmth-to-weight ratio provides warmth while wicking moisture away from your skin thanks to naturally occurring moisture repellant properties.

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– immerse sweater and swish gently.

2. Rinse by balling sweater up and gently squeezing out the excess water– be careful not to wring or stretch it! Refill sink or tub with clean, luke-warm 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. Just lay a towel on a table, or buy one of these handy things. Arrange into its desired shape– square the shoulders and place the sleeves parallel to the body.

To store, fold and place in a drawer or shelf– do not store on hangers! It can stretch and misshape the shoulders. Steam with an at-home steamer or lightly iron on the wool/steam setting to smooth wrinkles and freshen up in a hurry. No time? Be the ultimate multitask-er– put your sweater on a hanger and hang on a bathroom hook during a morning shower and let the steam do the work!