Does Wool Get Softer Over Time?

Do you ever have a favorite shirt or a blanket that you just can’t seem to let go of? It’s probably because the fabric is made from wool!

Does wool really get softer over time? Yes. Wool definitely softens with wearing and washing.

wool raincoat
Wool raincoat. Credit: canva

Wool is known for its softness and comfort, but do you know why it gets softer over time? In this blog post, we will learn why it becomes softer with age.

Why Is Wool Soft?

The Nature of Wool

Wool is actually a protein fiber that is grown by sheep (and other animals) to protect them from the elements.

The insides of sheep are kept at a fairly constant temperature, and it helps to regulate their body temperature by trapping heat when it’s cold and releasing heat when it’s warm. 

It is also naturally water-resistant, which helps keep sheep dry in wet conditions.

And because it can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture, it is also an excellent fabric for regulating body temperature and keeping us comfortable in all kinds of weather. 

Soft Vs Scratchy

The thickness of fibers

The thickness of the fibers in woolen fabrics is what makes them either soft or scratchy. The thinner the fibers, the softer the fabric will be.

The softest merino in the world can be less than 12 microns thick – about 1/100th of a millimeter.

Natural crimps

The crimps make sheep’s coats look “wavy” and also help trap air, which makes wool a great insulator. In addition, these features give the fabrics a soft feel against the skin.

The more crimps, the softer the fabric will feel.

The lower the quality of the material, the itchier and coarser it is. In other words, merino wool has closer to 100 crimps per inch while low-quality wool only has 1-2.

Does Wool Get Softer Over Time?

wool clothing
Wool clothing. Credit: canva

Yes, it does. Wool definitely softens with wearing and washing.

One of the benefits is that it does tend to get softer over time. This is due to the fact that they are slightly brittle and will break down with use. 

The Fibers Break Down

When these fibers break down, they become shorter and finer, which makes the fabric feel softer. However, this process can also make the fabric weaker and more likely to pill (or form little balls of fuzz). 

For this reason, it’s important to take good care of your garments and not expose them to too much wear and tear. But if you do, don’t worry – they’ll just get softer and cozier with time! 

Keratin in Wool

Wool is made up of keratin, which is a protein that is also found in human hair and nails.  The keratin fibers are able to absorb moisture from the air.

When these fibers absorb moisture, they swell slightly and become more flexible. This expansion causes the fibers to interlock more loosely with each other, making them feel softer to the touch. 

How to Make Wool Softer

The most common way to make wool softer and less itchy is by using vinegar.

  • Just add one cup of vinegar to your washing machine along with your regular detergent. The vinegar will help to break down the fibers and make them softer. 
  • You can also add a cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle if you’re hand-washing the garments.
  • Another way is to turn the garment inside out and soak it in a mixture of cold water and a few tablespoons of vinegar.

Related Topics

Does Wool Shrink in the Dryer?

Yes, it does. Wool is a natural fiber that shrinks when it’s heated, so if you want to avoid shrinking the clothes, you should air dry them instead of using the dryer.

What Happens if You Use Vinegar and Laundry Detergent Together?

If you use vinegar and laundry detergent together, your clothes will come out clean and smell fresh. The vinegar will also help to remove any build-up of detergent on your clothing.

What Happens if You Wash Wool in the Washing Machine?

If you wash it in the washing machine, it’s important to use a gentle cycle and cold water. You should also avoid using fabric softener, as this can damage the fibers of your clothes.

Why is Wool So Itchy?

The itchiness is caused by tiny barbs on the surface of the fabric that snag and irritate the skin.

It’s these barbs that also make it so good at trapping air and keeping us warm.

In order to make it less itchy, it can be sheared or treated with a chemical called lanolin, which coats the barbs and makes them less likely to prick the skin.

Can You Wash 100% Wool?

Yes, you can wash 100% wool. In fact, it’s often recommended to hand-wash 100% wool garments in order to avoid damaging the fibers.

Is Woolite Good for Wool?

Yes, Woolite is a good detergent. It’s designed to be gentle on delicate fabrics, so it won’t damage your clothes.

Why is Merino Wool so Good?

Merino wool is a type that comes from the merino sheep. This breed of sheep produces a fabric that is much finer and softer than other types, making it ideal for clothing.