WHEN SHOULD I WASH MY MERINO?
You’ve worn it once so you should wash it right? If it’s merino then the answer is no and here’s why!
In our modern super convenient world we’ve got used to a wear and wash cycle born of the use of synthetic fibers. Wear it once, chuck it in the washing machine for a spin cycle, dry and wear again. Merino is the wool that breaks the mould, allowing you to wash it less frequently and get years of use out of it without it piling or wearing thin.
“Running nearly a marathon every day with everything I needed to survive on my back, space and weight were at a premium, so I could only have one t-shirt for the entire 23-day run. Under such conditions, merino wool is absolutely the only way to go”
MEET THE SHEEP
You’ve probably heard all this before but, is there science behind it or is it just a marketing ploy to increase sales and create an army of stinky athletes? Well, first a word on Merino itself, Merino sheep first originated in Spain before being adopted by the masters of farming, the Aussies. Those guys knew how to breed sheep and were probably in need of serious sweat-wicking in the sunny outback so, they were the right people to bring Merino to the masses.
The Merino sheep produces some of the softest and finest wool it’s possible to create so it’s super desirable just for its luxurious feel. The real magic is in the absorption qualities of the wool, it soaks up your sweat and allows it to be evaporated leaving you dry. It helps sweat do what it was designed to, evaporate away cooling you down in the process.
IF YOU THINK YOUR SWEAT DON’T STINK…
Surprisingly, sweat doesn’t smell, it’s an odourless liquid, the stinky sweat problem comes when the bodies harmless and helpful bacteria feed on the sweat. When they metabolise it, they produce a by-product that has a particular aroma. Synthetic fibres get really stinky because their open latticework fibres make a great home for Micrococcus bacteria, these same bacteria just aren’t interested in natural fibres so they stay away.
In addition to this, the scaly fibres of merino have been shown to attract these bacteria less than the positively charged fibres of your usual synthetic baselayer.
“On expedition in the Arctic winter when travelling light, I’ve literally worn the same piece during the day for several weeks without washing whilst participating in high activity pursuits”
IF IT AIN’T STINKY, DON’T WASH IT
So, you don’t need to wash your merino as much, it just won’t smell, but well, if you can wash it you may as well right? Natural fibres are delicate by their very nature, at FINDRA, we’ve used a performance blend to make them suitable for adventure, and we’ve reinforced areas which receive high wear, but your favourite thing still needs a little kindness so you can keep wearing it for years to come. Along with the environmental consequences of washing machines (detergent release into waterways, energy use, water wastage, carbon footprint) it’s well worth giving it an airing and wearing it again tomorrow.
WE ASKED SOME OF OUR FINDRA AMBASSADORS FOR STORIES OF THE EXPLOITS OF THEIR MERINO.
Meg Hine – Survival expert and adventurer
The amazing thing about quality merino wool products is that because of the natural antimicrobial properties of the wool it doesn’t hold smells in the same way synthetic materials do. On expedition in the Arctic winter when travelling light, I’ve literally worn the same piece during the day for several weeks without washing whilst participating in high activity pursuits. (When I do get the opportunity I will wash my clothing out as any clothing reduces its functionality with build-up of oils, dirt and sweat).
Jenny Tough – International adventurer
When I ran across the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan, I encountered every weather condition imaginable, often within one day. The days would be scorching hot, the afternoons would bring thunderstorms, and the nights were freezing, sometimes even snowing. Running nearly a marathon every day with everything I needed to survive on my back, space and weight were at a premium, so I could only have one t-shirt for the entire 23-day run. Under such conditions, merino wool is absolutely the only way to go. My merino top kept my temperature comfortable, reduced chafing from my backpack, and best of all, didn’t need to be washed everyday (as that was clearly not an option!). My strict limit on pack weight meant that deodorant couldn’t come with me, so the anti-stink property of merino wool was probably its greatest asset!