We talk a lot about merino wool. And it's one of the foundations of what we do at SKRE - our base layers and our merino product. It really is a super fabric, so we want to make sure that we are caring for merino wool correctly. One of the big problems that we face as whitetail hunters, is as the season goes from summer climates when it's really warm, to a much colder climate. Merino wool spans a long time frame. We use merino in the early seasons when it's warm as a moisture-wicking and breathable, lightweight layer. And when it gets colder, it's our insulation base layers under our outer layers for those colder weather hunts.
So, how do we keep our merino fresh? How do we clean it? How do we tend to it? Let's talk about some best practices when it comes to caring for merino wool.
Number One: Take Off Your Merino Wool
And I’ll say that about all of your hunting clothes. Wear them to the stand, wear them in the stand, wear them when you're hunting. Don't wear them to the store. Don't wear them around the camp. Don't wear them when you're skinning and cleaning an animal. Don't wear them when you're working on your ATV. The least amount of wear that you can put on your merino, the less likely you are to have to put it through a full wash. We do have a lifetime warranty on everything at SKRE, but normal wear on all of your hunting clothes is something that we all have to manage. And with merino, it is a super fine fabric. It is a fabric that requires a little extra attention when it comes to running it through a wash cycle. I try not to wear my merino at all unless I'm geared up and ready to go in. And then when I come off of the hunt, I take my hunting clothes off and I store them. That's one way that I keep from having anything that just absolutely has to go through a wash cycle. I want to wash my merino, as far as the washing machine goes, as little as possible.
Number Two: Air Dry Merino Wool
I don't ever put my merino wool in the dryer EVER. If I put it through a wash cycle, it always hangs dry. Then I'll store it after it's completely dried out. So what do I do when it's really warm weather and I'm sweating a lot and all that? Maybe I don't have mud or blood or anything like that on my merino, but it's sweaty? One of the key features of merino wool is it absorbs moisture and it's antimicrobial. So it doesn't hold on to scent. It really doesn't. You can wear it a lot and if you take care of it and store it correctly, it will smell just as fresh as it did when you took it out of the wash cycle. If I'm hunting and I get pretty sweaty, the first thing I do when caring for merino wool is take it off and lay it out somewhere to let it air dry. Once it air dries, and it's completely dried out. I'll use a scent killer product. There's lots of them, lots of different brands, but just a basic scent killer product and I'll spray it down with the scent killer. Then let that dry out and then I'll store it.
Number Three: Proper Storage of Merino Wool
I use a Scent Crusher enclosure with an ozone unit, and then I will run that as sort of a dry clean to use that ozone to kill off whatever scent is left. And I keep it in there all the time. They even make these ozone bags where there's a generator built into the bag. You can store them in that, run that, kill all the scent off of it.
Number Four: Wash Merino Wool Carefully!
At some point, you're eventually going to get to the point where you have to run your clothes through a wash. I want to do that as little as possible. I only wash my hunting clothes - specifically my merino - once or twice a year. So when we do get to the point where we need to wash our merino, it's important that we use the right kind of detergent. You don't want to use, just any kind of detergent. It is wool and, again, it is a super fine material. So you can search online and you can find lots of different types of detergents that are safer for more superfine fabrics.
Woolite is a product that you might be familiar with, but there are lots of other brands. You want to find something that has the least amount of chemicals, phosphates, no UV brighteners, all of those kinds of things. And you want to run your clothes through as light of a wash as you can. You just want to knock the dirt off, knock the grime off, whatever it is and then hang it up and let it dry.
So let's go back over the general basic best practices of caring for merino wool. Don't wear your gear when you're not hunting. When you come off of a hunt, hang it out, let it air dry. After it is dry, spray it down with a scent killer and let it air dry again. Then store it in an airtight container or in an ozone type of enclosure of some kind where you can run ozone and kill any remaining scent. If you don't have an ozone generator, that's fine. But don't just throw it on the bed or throw it over the back of a chair or whatever the case may be. Put it in a bag or a plastic airtight container, and I promise you can do just that and go through most of the season without ever having to put your merino wool through the washer.
In my opinion and experience from over five or six years now of extensively using merino wool, that's the best way to keep my hunting clothes fresh. And you'll find that they come out of that system and they're just as fresh and ready to go as if you just ran them through a washing machine. And the last thing, once again, don't ever put your merino wool in the dryer.