Do you love wearing wool but hate taking care of those valuable wool garments? After all, dry cleaning is a big hassle. That’s where Superwash wool comes in. You can wash garments made with this unique, treated wool at home, and care for it differently than you would traditional wool clothing. In today’s article I’ll answer the question “What is Superwash Wool?” and explain how it’s made, and why it behaves differently from other wool yarn.
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What is Superwash Wool?
Ever tried throwing a regular wool garment in the washing machine? If so, you know the disastrous results!
Superwash wool is different from regular wool because it is given a special treatment that makes it machine washable.
Superwash wool was developed in the early 1970s. The wool and textile industry decided to create this kind of wool because of the unique properties of regular, untreated wool.
Untreated wool has scales that make the fibers likely to stick together. This can create problems and inconvenience in garment production, or what many of us would call the “charm” of wool clothing.
How is Superwash Wool Different?
This yarn has significant differences from other kinds of wool.
The primary difference is that it has been treated so that you can wash it.
Superwash yarn also tends to have better color density and an unmistakable luster.
Superwash fiber absorbs dye more quickly and deeply than other kinds of wool. This is why it tends to have more saturated color.
How Is Superwash Yarn Made?
Superwash wool yarn is smoother and more lustrous than regular wool yarn. It’s the smooth texture of Superwash yarn that makes it be able to be washed without the fear of turning that precious sweater into a shrunken or otherwise damaged garment.
Chemical processing is the oldest way to make Superwash yarn. This processing gets rid of the miniscule scales found on wool.
One of these chemical processes is called the Hercosett Superwash Treatment. In this treatment, producers use chlorinated chemicals.
These chemicals remove the scaliness found on wool’s surface. After that, these chemicals are removed and a special coating is applied.
After this process, wool yarn will stand up to washing without shrinkage.
A downside of Superwash wool made with the Hercosett Superwash Treatment is that your wool garment will no longer have wool’s natural ability for repelling water.
Also, the wool ends up with a surface layer made of synthetic material. This takes away the fiber’s natural ability to regulate moisture and keep you comfortable.
Luckily, there are other methods of making wool Superwash. These newer approaches don’t use the same kinds of harsh chemicals.
The new methods are just as effective, or even more so, at making wool shrink-proof.
One of the new methods of creating Superwool is a physical process through which wool is exposed to electrodes and then coated with plasma.
Consumers worried about the Hercosett process’s impact on the environment strongly prefer finding Superwash wool made with this more modern method.
Why Should You Knit with Superwash Wool Yarn?
If you’re a knitter and haven’t tried Superwash yarn, you may enjoy it.
Most knitting enthusiasts strongly prefer Superwash yarn to regular yarn. That’s because it doesn’t have the scales that you deal with on regular wool.
The scales can cause tangling and other issues when knitting.
You can also feel good that the hat, scarf, sweater, or mittens you’re knitting for that friend or family member doesn’t need to come with special care instructions.
Superwash Wool is Easier to Care For
If you want a wool garment but you’re not interested in the hassle of caring for regular wool, this type of yarn may be for you.
With any item made from Superwash wool, you can simply wash it in the washing machine without worrying about shrinkage.
While Superwash yarn is known for having more vibrant colors, make sure to check the yarn or garment you buy for specific information on colorfastness.
Not all Superwash products have the same ability to retain color.
If you want a Superwash product that almost invariably has excellent colorfastness, check out Superwash Merino wool.
Superwash Merino wool is known for having outstanding colorfastness over the long-term.
Wash your Superwash garments and other items in your washing machine’s gentle cycle. To keep your Superwash wool as safe as possible, use a shampoo made especially for natural fibers (I recommend this one on Amazon).
You can use one that is described as being for hand-washing and then use it on the gentle cycle instead.
Why Superwash is a Popular Choice
As I’ve explained, products made with Superwash yarn are a popular choice if you want a garment that you can put in the washing machine without the risk of shrinking or other kinds of damage.
So, the next time you look for wool yarn or a garment made from this fiber, you should consider trying Superwash. It’s certainly much easier to care for than traditional wool.
But, if you ask me, the character of an item made with handspun or worsted weight yarn may be worth the extra care and attention).