Recently a customer wrote to us and asked us to recommend the best laundry liquid for washing Merino Wool.
Our founder Suse is a walking laundry encyclopedia and knows everything there is to know about wool care, so we thought we would share her answer with you here. These are UK based recommendations so If you need advice for another country or have any other questions about caring for your Superlove Merino, or are facing a tricky stain and need some help, Suse is always happy to chat. You can contact her here
So what is the best laundry liquid? Here's what Suse said:
'On the whole, any non-bio liquid will be ok with your Superlove Merino. However, as ever, there are some that are better than others. Personally, I try to avoid products that are overly scented as whilst this is nice, if the scents used are synthetic it is not very good for our little ones (research perfumes and hormone disruption if you want to dig into that one!). So my recommendations below are not only the ones I think are most effective, but also the ones I have vetted for safety and purity for going right next to baby skin and they are what I use on my own children and have tested on our Merino over years :)
I have divided the recommendations below into 'everyday' and 'occasional' as I have found that using a general non-bio is cheapest and easiest in our house where our laundry is a mixture of fibres - we're pretty heavy on the merino but even so - using a wool specific wash every time would get too expensive over time and I don't feel it is really necessary. That said, there is nothing wrong with using a wool specific wash on non-wool - it usually just contains some extra conditioning ingredients beyond standard non-bio.
Anyway, what we do is use one of the 'everyday' products most of the time, then once or twice a month or so, I gather up all our merino and do a load with a special wool wash.
It's a bit like doing a conditioning treatment occasionally on your hair :)
For 'Everyday use' my faves are:
1. Surcare - this one can be got online or from the higher end supermarkets. It's particularly good if your little one suffers any sensitivities as it is completely fragrance-free. It was our go to when my daughter had bad eczema on her face. It doesn't offer any benefits to the wool itself, unfortunately, but it certainly cleans it well and adds nothing unwanted (and does not harm it in any way)
2. Norwex Powder. This one seems eye wateringly expensive at first glance. But it's super concentrated and has zero 'fillers' in so actually works out slightly cheaper if you are careful to use just the half scoop recommended - which takes a bit of remembering when you are used to standard supermarket brands.It is again, not specifically for wool but it is wool safe (the powder not their liquid which has enzymes that could harm wool)
Usually, we don't suggest powders as they contain fillers and chemicals that if not properly dissolved can lodge into the fibres and are potentially harsh. But this ones has no fillers in at all.
I am using this at the moment and it cleans very well. Has no smell and is gentle on skin and environmentally safe.
Another massive fave of mine. This contains the same ingredients used in shampoos - which incidentally many people find excellent for washing wool (as wool is similar to hair) and if cost is an issue, buying cheap shampoo and using that is not a bad idea. However, Sal Suds is again super super concentrated and you only need a tablespoon or two for a full load so it works out not too bad. It's got a nice soft (natural) piney sort of smell as there is some pine oil in it which helps it clean. I also use this for general house cleaning too - diluted and put in a spray bottle. It's absolutely brilliant stuff and again, chemically safe and natural
4. Ecover (all supermarkets) I like that it is low scent and gentle on the wool (you can use the wool and delicates specific one but I find the standard kind works fine too). It doesn't perform as well as the ones above and is not as concentrated but it is a good middle of the road option for everyday use.
For Occasional / Special Care use
The following are all specialist wool products that contain (usually) added lanolin in liquid form, which will condition the wool and reinvigorate it - good to use if you feel the merino is getting a bit 'dry' feeling.
Note: A lot of the supermarket brands especially for wool work well but are not great for little ones. For example Woolite is good and leaves wool feeling lovely and soft BUT it is massively perfumed and contains a lot of fillers. I feel it is aimed at ladies wanting to wash their wool twinsets and have them smell like flowers afterwards. Not so great for little babes.
Better, in my opinion, are these 3 brands which all make the wool lovely and soft, but without the extra chemicals. Most contain a touch of lanolin which reconditions and feeds the wool :) They are all equally good (I use them interchangeably depending on what is cheapest at the time).
Lastly, I am sure you know this already but steer clear of fabric softener with Merino - it clogs up the fibres and makes it feel sticky over time :)
You haven't asked me about stain removers but since I am writing this (and jolly well enjoying myself too) I'll mention my fave tricks there as well. I find that one downside with non-bio (meaning no enzymes) laundry liquids is that they don't always remove heavy soiling in one hit, and what doesn't get removed right off the bat, can actually get further 'set' by the laundering process. So, on my lighter coloured merino, I pre-treat any tricky looking soiling before throwing it in the wash and that works much better. Personally, I don't rate many commercial stain removers as I find none work as well as a plain old bar of soap - or washing up liquid, especially since most stain risk with kids comes from food and (ahem) poop! Just dampen the soiled area, rub some soap in (gall soap or laundry specific soap bars are great but regular old hand soap will work well too) or washing liquid (I like fairy) and give it a bit of a working over - then launder as usual.
One last note on fragrance. I have, with good reason, been quite big on avoiding synthetic fragrances - especially for little ones. But I do get that one of life's little domestic luxuries is the smell of fresh laundry. So what I do is fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of essential oil and give my washing a spritz when it's hung up. Adding white vinegar and essential oil to the fabric softener tray is also good (the vinegar smell will disappear leaving just the oils)
Ok, I'll stop now :) hopefully you find some of this helpful :)