Baaasic Merino-wear Care (and a little pop tune nostalgia)

If you wear merino thermals there’s a good chance we have something in common: our underwear is riddled with holes.  Little holes, big holes, growing holes, holes you suddenly realise you can fit your whole hand through.  Holes: they make thermals less warm.

If you just bought merino thermals and you’re thinking ‘not me sister, my thermals are fine and dandy’, you found this at the right time.

For years I’ve looked on helplessly as my merino thermals disintegrated.  I took to quietly darning the little holes until my thermals were more cotton than wool, before retiring them to PJ wear (eventually summer only).  This year I even sewed two together, creating a kind of Frankenstein merino top that I can still wear to bed in winter.  Just.

Now when I buy new thermals I treat them like silk or a newborn, mollycoddling them, washing them in separate bags and always layering them under something when I wear them hiking and climbing.  And still they get these holes.

This year I found out that all the TLC in the world won’t help unless you know what’s causing the holes and how to stop them.  (If you’re wondering where the pop music nostalgia is, it’s coming soon).  

For now, here is what is most likely causing the holes:

It’s not you, it’s them

Your merinos are actually a meal that delights moths and silverfish.  High in protein, merino wool is the quinoa of the critter world.  And they will happily chomp holes through your favourite thermal top, leaving your old leggings untouched nearby.

Now what to do?  Well, here are five merino-saving tips you can try:

Ice Ice Baby

You can store your thermals in the freezer.  This may sound like an odd solution, but the merino officials swear it works.  I suppose you don’t often see moths and silverfish in there.

Zip it real good

If you would prefer not to store your thermals on ice, you can keep them in ziplock bags – the idea is to create a barrier between the meal and the diners.

Salt ‘n’ Pepa

Some people talk about using cedar balls to deter moths and silverfish, but there’s no evidence to suggest this works.  Instead, try sprinkling your thermals with black pepper.  It doesn’t smell as nice but I hear it’s very effective.

Parsley Sage, Lavender and Thyme

Lavender is another good deterrent.  You can put a drop of the essential oil on cotton balls and tuck them in around your thermals.

Washing Up

One of the great things about modern merino clothing is that it’s so easy to care for.  You can throw it in the washing machine on a gentle cool cycle (<40 degC), which is easy on all your clothes.

It’s best if you use wool wash or a gentle natural product.  Soap flakes are a good, affordable option.  Bleach wears on wool quickly, so avoid non-biological products to help stop the holes.

That’s it for now.

I hope these tips help keep your merinos in one (whole) piece, so they can accompany you on more awesome adventures.

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Thanks to Smitten, makers of Tasmanian owned and made merino clothing, for these awesome tips!

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3 responses to “Baaasic Merino-wear Care (and a little pop tune nostalgia)

  1. I wear merino tops year round. Sleeveless in summer and sleeves in winter. I’ve even worn them in 45°C heat and been more comfortable than anyone else. Far superior to cotton.

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