Wool is a staple fiber found in fall and winter clothing, most often used in the production of coats, sweaters, socks, and suits. Beautiful and durable, it has the ability to keep you warm when the temperatures plummet. However, in spite of all its merits, it does have disadvantages which include cost, comfort, care and storage.
A fine wool sweater may cost two to three times more than one constructed of synthetic fibers. If paying the extra cost for wool, apply it to classic wardrobe staples that will last a long time, such as business wear, outerwear, and perennial accessories like scarves and light layers. For trendy items you will discard at the end of the season, opt for less expensive fibers to avoid frustration when the garments go out of style.
Some varieties of wool can be very itchy to sensitive skin. Lower quality woolens are composed of shorter, coarser fibers with many more ends to stick out and cause irritation. For a more comfortable wear, opt for sweaters crafted from softer wools like Merino.
Care and Storage
Wool can be easily stained in the course of daily wear. It also tends to absorb odors from cooking, cigarette smoke and long-term storage. To protect your fine wool clothing from damage, avoid wearing against your bare skin, promptly spot clean any stains, and make sure to store in a well-ventilated area. To prevent moths from eating your wool sweaters, use mothballs or cedar drawer liners to repel these insects. But beware -- wool garments can sometimes absorb the scent of cedar or mothballs.
Wool garments will shrink when washed and dried by machine. To safely clean fine woolens, gently wash them by hand or take them to the dry cleaner. This unfortunately means spending more money and time as compared to a less sensitive fabric.
- International Wool Textile Organization: History of Wool
- Fort Valley State University College: Fiber Facts
- Columbia University; Go Ask Alice; In a pickle over prickle — why does wearing wool make me itch?; February 2003
- New Mexico State University; Preventing Damage from Clothes Moths and Carpet Beetles; Susan Wright; 2001
- S847/iStock/Getty Images