Does Merino Wool Shrink? (Ways to Eliminate Shrinkage)

Tina Miles
Merino wool is perfect for everything from cozy sweaters to high-performance outdoor wear. But with all the benefits of this wonder fabric comes a common concern: does merino wool shrink? Keep reading to discover how much your favorite sweater might shrink and how best to care for it so that it stays looking great wear after wear.

Merino wool is a popular clothing and outdoor gear choice due to its natural warmth, breathability, and softness. However, one common question many people have about merino wool is whether it shrinks. After all, nobody wants to ruin their favorite Merino sweater or socks by accidentally shrinking them in the wash. Read on as we explore the truth behind merino wool shrinkage and provide some tips on how to prevent it from happening.

Table Of Contents

What Is Merino Wool?

Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep, a breed that originated in Australia, but is now commonly found in New Zealand, and South America. The wool is known for its softness and fine fiber diameter. Unlike other types of wool, merino doesn't itch or irritate the skin. It's also naturally moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, ideal for active wear or outdoor activities.

The unique characteristics of Merino wool are:

Does Merino Wool Shrink?

Yes - Merino Wool has the potential for shrinking under certain circumstances. Merino wool can shrink if not washed and dried properly. Various factors can determine how much merino wool shrinks during washing or drying.

Always pay attention to care labels when washing your favorite Merino items to avoid shrinking. Handwashing with cool water and mild detergent is recommended instead of using hot water or machine wash settings.

How to Tell If Your Merino Wool is Shrunken?

It can be difficult to tell if your Merino wool clothes have shrunk. However, there are a few things you can look for to determine whether or not they have.

Step 1: Check the fit of the garment. It may have shrunk if it feels tighter than usual and doesn't fit as well as it used to.

Step 2: Check the length of the garment. If it appears shorter than before or doesn't cover areas it once did, it could also indicate that it has shrunk.

Step 3: You can also compare your Merino wool clothes to similar items in your wardrobe that have not been washed yet. It will give you a better idea of how much shrinkage has occurred.

Step 4: Inspect any labels or care instructions on the garment itself. These often provide specific washing and drying guidelines which should prevent shrinking from occurring.

Being able to tell if Merino wool has shrunk requires attentiveness and attention to detail when evaluating clothing items post-wash cycle.

How Much Does Merino Wool Shrink?

The amount of shrinkage in Merino wool depends on several factors, such as the type of garment you have (sweater or socks), the thickness of the fabric, and how you wash and dry it. Merino wool will shrink more when it’s wet as it absorbs water. If you follow care instructions properly, your Merino wool item should not shrink more than 5-10%.

If you accidentally put your Merino wool item in hot water or high heat dryer cycle by mistake, expect more significant shrinkage than normal. In this case, restoring the garment to its original size may be challenging, even with proper care.

Does Merino Wool Shrink In the Dryer?

Many people wonder if Merino wool will shrink in the dryer. The answer is yes, it can. However, the extent to which it shrinks depends on several factors, such as the quality of the wool and how you care for your clothes.

If you put high-quality Merino wool clothing in a hot dryer, it's likely to shrink significantly. Heat causes fibers to contract and interlocks more tightly than before. If this happens repeatedly, your once comfortable garment may become too small or tight-fitting.

Many recommend hand-washing or machine washing on cold with a gentle detergent designed for delicate fabrics like wool.

How to Wash Your Merino Clothes Properly?

Washing your Merino wool clothes properly is essential to maintain quality and avoid shrinkage. Here are some of the tips to wash your Merino clothes:

Step 1: Use cool or lukewarm water with a mild detergent made for wool fabrics when hand washing. Gently agitate the garment in the water without rubbing or twisting too vigorously.

Step 2: Set your machine on a gentle cycle to prevent any stretching or snagging. Use cold water with gentle wool detergent. Avoid using fabric softeners and bleach, as they can damage the fibers of your Merino clothing.

Step 3: If you're short on time, opt for spot cleaning instead of full washes when possible. Use a damp cloth with mild soap to target stains and odors without risking any damage to your precious Merino clothing pieces.

Step 4: After washing, avoid drying your clothes in direct sunlight or using high heat settings on your dryer. Instead, lay them flat on a clean surface, allowing them to air dry naturally. It will help maintain their shape while also preventing any further shrinking from occurring. Never hang or tumble dry merino wool, as this can cause stretching and shrinking.

How to Get the Shrinkage Out of Merino Wool?

If you've accidentally shrunk your Merino wool clothing or gear, you can try a few things to get the shrinkage out.

Step 1: Try soaking the item in lukewarm water mixed with a hair conditioner for 10-15 minutes. It can help relax the fibers and restore some of their original shape. Rinse thoroughly and reshape the garment while it's still damp, then let it air dry flat.

Step 2: Use steam to stretch out the shrunken areas gently. You can do this by holding a steaming iron over the garment or by using a handheld steamer directly on the affected area.

Step 3: You could take your merino wool item to a professional cleaner who has experience working with delicate fabrics like merino wool. They may restore its original size and shape without damaging it further.

Step 4: Always check care labels before washing or drying your items, and consider hand-washing them instead of machine-washing if possible.


Merino wool is a popular choice for clothing due to its softness, warmth, and breathability. However, shrinkage is one major concern with this type of wool. When washing your Merino wool garments, always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Use a gentle detergent, and avoid hot water or high heat when drying or ironing your clothes. If possible, air dry your clothing rather than using a dryer, as excessive heat can cause shrinkage.

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