Why wool stinks and how to get rid of the smell
Merino wool is a natural fiber of animal origin, which is used to make clothing, blankets, carpets and other products.
Wool has several properties, such as warmth, breathability, elasticity and resistance.
However, merino wool also has disadvantages, including the tendency to capture and retain bad odors, especially when it gets wet. However, this is usually synonymous with the quality of the woolen garment purchased, because it is certainly pure virgin wool.
Why does wool stink when it gets wet?
Wool stinks when it gets wet for several reasons, including:
- The presence of lanolin, a fatty and waxy substance that covers the wool fibers and which serves to protect the fleece of animals from humidity and parasites. Lanolin has a characteristic odor, which can become stronger and more unpleasant when the wool gets wet.
- The formation of bacteria and fungi, which develop in wool fibers when they are exposed to humidity and heat. These microorganisms produce gases and chemicals that cause wet wool to smell bad.
- The absorption of external odors, such as sweat, smoke, kitchen fumes and other pollutants. Wool has a particular structure, made up of scales that overlap and create air chambers between the fibres. These air chambers allow the wool to easily absorb odors from the surrounding environment, which are then released when the wool gets wet.
How to eliminate the smell from wool?
To eliminate the smell from wool, you need to follow some precautions when cleaning and storing wool products. Here are some tips:
- Wash wool carefully, usually for 30 minutes or by following the instructions on the label and using specific products for wool, such as Marseille soap, mild detergent or baking soda.
Never use bleach, fabric softener or harsh detergents, which can damage the fibers and make the smell worse.
Hand washing should always be preferred or, if in the washing machine, always with a delicate program and at low temperature, without rubbing or twisting the fabric. If the wool is very dirty or stained, you can use a soft brush or a damp cloth to remove the dirt, but gently.
- Rinse the wool well, eliminating all soap or detergent residues. You can add a little white vinegar or lemon juice to the rinse water to neutralize odors and make the wool softer and shinier. Don't leave wool to soak for too long, as it may felt or turn yellow.
- Dry the wool correctly, squeezing it with your hands or wrapping it in a dry cloth, without twisting it.
Lay the wool out on a flat surface, such as a table or bed, and shape it back into shape with your hands. Avoid hanging wool, which could warp under the weight of water.
Also avoid exposing wool to direct sun or heat sources, which could dry it too much and fade it. If you use the dryer, choose a gentle, low-temperature program, and place the wool in a protective net.
- Perfume the wool, using natural anti-odor remedies to give wool products a good smell.
You can use sachets of lavender, cedar, rosemary or other aromatic herbs to place in drawers or cupboards where wool is stored.
You can also use essential oils, to spray on woolen garments or to add to washing or rinsing water.
Following the advice of Lanaioli, you will be able to eliminate the smell from wool and keep wool products clean, fragrant and in good condition for a long time.