active wear Is Merino Wool Itchy or Irresistibly Soft? Debunking The Mystery (2023)
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Is Merino Wool Itchy or Irresistibly Soft? Debunking The Mystery (2023)

Dive into the world of merino wool and discover whether it's genuinely itchy or a delightful fabric choice for your wardrobe. Find out what makes Merino unique and learn how to choose the best quality Merino wool products.

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Is Merino wool itchy?

Merino wool is a popular choice for performance athletic apparel, partly because it is moisture-wicking and breathable and partly because it is natural and sustainable. But is Merino wool itchy or soft?

There are a lot of reasons to love Merino wool. In this article, we explore its natural properties and whether or not you will feel comfortable wearing Merino wool.

Is Merino Wool Itchy or Soft? Let’s Discuss

Wool is known for being a little itchy, but that isn’t always the case. But what about Merino wool? Is it itchy or soft? Merino wool has fine fibers, and as a result, it is soft, not itchy. Of course, everyone’s sensitivities are different. Still, Merino wool is much softer compared to other types of wool.

But that’s just the beginning of the story. Merino wool has several other properties that make it popular with premium athletic gear. Let’s explore more about Merino wool and

compare Merino wool to alpaca wool, another famous wool that is soft.


The Science Behind Merino Wool

Before we revisit the itchiness question, it’s essential to understand the properties that make Merino wool different from other wools. Merino wool is a natural fiber sheared from the Merino breed of sheep.

These sheep are found worldwide, but New Zealand might be best known for its Merino sheep, partly because of Allbirds shoes. Merino wool is better for apparel than traditional sheep wool because it is softer and less coarse.

There are several reasons Merino wool is so popular with brands like Allbirds and Smartwool. Those properties include the fact that it is breathable and moisture-wicking. It is also soft and temperature-regulating.

The Merino wool fibers measure a smaller diameter than traditional wool fibers, which is why it is softer and less coarse. When you combine the fact that Merino wool is soft and packs a punch with other performance properties, you can understand why it is so popular with athletes.


Itchiness: Myth or Reality?

Contrary to popular belief, merino wool is not inherently itchy. People associate wool with itchiness mainly due to coarser fibers found in traditional wool, which have higher micron counts. The finer fibers of merino wool, with lower micron counts, bend and flex easily when in contact with the skin, reducing the chances of irritation and itchiness.

Still, we recognize that some people may have higher sensitivities, but most people will find Merino wool luxuriously soft and comfortable.

Choosing the Right Merino Wool

Buy the highest quality Merino wool products to counter some of those sensitivities. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for, and this is an area you should pay for quality. To ensure you're selecting the softest, itch-free merino wool, consider the following tips:

a. Check the Micron Count: Lower micron counts indicate softer, finer fibers. Opt for Merino wool products with a micron count of 19.5 or lower to minimize itchiness.

b. Look for Certified Labels: Reputable certifications like ZQ Merino or Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) ensure ethical, sustainable, and high-quality merino wool production.

c. Consider Blends: Some merino wool products blend merino fibers with other soft materials like silk or cashmere, further reducing any chance of itchiness. Virgin wool blends are also softer than repurposed wool blends.

Caring for Your Merino Wool

Proper care and maintenance can also help maintain the softness of your Merino wool garments, reducing the likelihood of itchiness. Always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer, including gentle washing, air drying, and avoiding high heat exposure.

While we recommend paying more for quality wool products, proper care will help you extend the life of your products. It's a worthwhile investment.

Is Merino Wool Itchy? No, Not Really.

So, is Merino wool itchy? No, most people find that Merino wool is super soft and breathable. Still, this depends on the quality of the wool and individual sensitivity levels. By choosing high-quality, low-micron merino wool and following proper care instructions, you can enjoy this remarkable natural fiber's luxurious softness and incredible benefits without any itchiness.


Merino Wool Alternatives

For those looking for a Merino wool alternative, consider alpaca wool, which is also natural and sustainable. Alpaca isn’t itchy either, but it does have super-insulating properties. Namely, the alpaca fleece fibers have a semi-hollow core that traps air, enhancing insulation.

The upside for alpaca wool is that it is perfect for cold-weather clothing and blankets. The downside is that alpaca wool isn’t quite as breathable and moisture-wicking. Merino wool is still better for athletic performance, but alpaca wool is good for sweaters, jackets, and blankets.

Merino Wool Apparel

Merino wool is so popular with athletes that some are partially built on its popularity. Brands like Smartwool and Allbirds started focusing on Merino wool performance apparel. Smartwool focuses on clothing, including socks, while Allbirds focuses on shoes.

In some circles, Merino wool is ubiquitous. For instance, Merino socks are a staple for hikers and cold-weather runners. And still, Merino wool is breathable, so you can comfortably wear Allbirds shoes in summer.

So is Merino wool itchy? No, most people will find that Merino wool is soft and not itchy at all. Speaking of Allbirds, they recommend avoiding socks with their Merino wool shoes during the summer. The shoes are soft and odor resistant, so there isn’t much need for socks.

The bottom line is this: we love Merino wool products, and we think you will too.

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