The Hole Discovery
The thing that you never wanted to happen - has happened. There is a hole in your merino base layer. You just got it out to wear and discovered it. This may the first time you've dealt with this, or it maybe the 10th time - time to investigate!
How did this happen? How can you fix it? How to prevent this from happening?
We're going to take an in-depth approach - so you can try and determine the cause, and how to fix it at home.
This topic is covered over a short series of blog posts:
- Holes in Merino Clothing - The Laundry Investigation
- Holes in Merino Clothing - Wear and Tear is a Thing (coming soon)
- Holes in Merino Clothing - The Bug Investigation (coming soon)
One of the more common reasons for holes can be found in the laundry process.
Merino fabric is from sheep - for a very simplistic way of looking at it - the sheep gets a hair cut, and the hair is woven into fabric to then be sewn into the base layer. So - what you use to wash the clothing, and how it is washed and dried will have a major impact on the longevity of your clothing. As it is essentially a biodegradable item - you want it to last the longest it can!
One analogy could be washing your hair with the wrong shampoo - it can end up dried and very prone to breakage.
The Laundry Soap
We recommend a PH neutral laundry soap - one that does not have enzymes, or bleach or dyes, etc. Why?
The fabric is very biodegradable and compostable - enzymes work to break down biodegradable components - which is why it works well to get out dirt and grass stains on other clothing - but NOT here. Here it will create holes - and multiple of them as the fabric breaks down. (Same type of reasoning as a compost bin - enzymes break down the pile)
Depending on the enzyme laundry soap used and the gsm of the merino clothing - it may only take 1 wash in the wrong soap to cause a break down. But sometimes you won't see the breakdown for several more good soap washes afterwards - because the one wash in the no-no soap early on had weakened the fabric...
We have a number of laundry soaps available here.
Soak - we like this one when we are away, or have to do laundry with cottons and merino mixed - as there is no added lanolin, and I like the different scents - note - the scents are not over powering and if you double rinse - you get virtually no scent. The ease of just plopping the clothing in the sink for 15 minutes and then rinsing is awesome - especially when travelling.
Eucalan - we like this one when it is an all merino load, and need some extra natural lanolin added in for protection and softness. Very gentle - and great for the very light weight merino clothing. Also works really well with merino diaper covers - though not enough lanolin for those - still every bit helps!
Unicorn - we like this one - especially the power scour - for when the deodorant cakes on and doesn't get off the tees .... yes this happens in our house - so we then turn to this. Use the power scour sparingly - as it will strip lanolin away from the wool as well. Also great for stains on merino diaper covers. Again - use the power scour sparingly - but the regular is great for all loads. Difference between the baby line and the regular line - scent - in the regular they add a touch of lavender scent.
All in all - doing some research into the soap you are using, and what you may have to change to - will extend the longevity of your clothing.
The Laundry Washing
There is a reason alot of people hand wash their woolen clothing - there is far less agitation, and you are in full control of what it is washed with and how the clothing bumps with others.
Don't get me wrong here - you can machine wash our clothing! BUT - care must be taken in the process. You want to use the gentlest cycle you have - so it has the least amount of machine agitation. Some have a wool cycle - others a gentle cycle on their machine - use that if you can't hand wash.
Also take a look out for things that can cause holes when washed with - zippers, hooks (some dresses and bras have little hooks...) , velcro (oh man this can be evil in the wash), things in pockets (my kids and their rocks....seriously! - oh look my clothes are getting a rock wash! arrgggg)
All in all - try and pick the gentlest (less agitation) you can, and try and make sure all the clothes that are being washed together will not cause problems with each other.
The Other Person Factor
Now....not to play the blame game here, but there has been numerous times other people have done the laundry, and some items accidentally got in the wrong wash... For example- my son is learning to do his own laundry. He is 7 and it is a process. While I do supervise him to an extent - he is and eventually needs to be responsible and independent. Don't get me wrong here - the majority of the time I do it - BUT you start somewhere. Now I notice that he doesn't necessarily separate well, or some article of clothing is bunched up with others - and that happens and is life - I mean I've done it myself too. But yes - sometimes leggings and tshirts that are merino can sneak into a pile of laundry - it happens - you can move on- and you may have found the culprit - especially if that other load had any of the things to watch out for above!
The Laundry Drying / Storing
Yes - Drying and storing can also have an impact. Luckily merino is quick drying. In summer months you can probably get away with a morning load and another afternoon load of hanging - it is quick. But care does have to be taken.
We do recommend hanging your merino to dry - it is quick, and has the best outcome for longevity. As it has the least amount of agitation / tumbling and you are in control.
When hanging up your merino - are the clothes pins soft touch? Are there kids pulling them off the line? (yeah.. I know from experience here - had some great clothes pins that stayed really well...too well for the kids pulling them off the line to help...)
If using a machine dryer - was it a wool cycle? Was other things in with it? Do you have a rock tumbler? (my kids pockets emptied out rocks in the dryer... but not the washer... go figure. - or the dryer had items left over from the previous load... arrgg!)
Hanging to dry and storing can end up being the same here - if you leave it hanging up too long. Sometimes if hung up in a dark place for a longer time frame, you can invite moths to come and munch away. I'll leave this subject for a different post - but yes - they are everywhere. See our post - Holes in Merino Clothing - the Bug Investigation for more details.
Store your merino gently - storing will be covered more in the Bug Investigation blog post - but in general - if you can store in fine mesh bags - that is great! Watch out for zippers and velcro though! If you decide to hang to store - try cedar hangers, or another natural moth repellant.
The Final Say
There can be a number of factors for holes in your merino wool clothing - and if you've gone through this whole laundry investigation and still are stumped - stay tuned to read the next post - Holes in Merino Clothing - Wear and Tear is a Thing (coming soon!) to see if any of these next gotchas could be the culprit!