Do you tailor your work trousers in poly-wool blends because you need dress pants that are washable? It's normal to have such a mindset, especially in a humid country like Singapore. Most folks we meet usually steer clear of full wool trousers because the "dry-clean only" label or stereotype of being "hard to care for" scares them. But...what if we told you that wool trousers are so much easier to care for than you might imagine?
If you're familiar with tailoring, it'd come as no surprise that most tailors, even in Singapore, highly recommend going for pure wool trousers over poly-wool when possible; simply because pure wool is superior in quality. But...what does "quality" mean and does it really matter? Let's do a quick comparison so you'll understand the difference:
100% Worsted Wool
✓ Doesn't trap odours
✓ Does not pill easily
✓ Naturally wrinkle-free
✓ Soft & supple against skin
✓ Beautiful drape and handle
✗ May be more expensive
Polyester Wool Blend
✗ Bad for sensitive skin
✗ Not biodegradable
✗ Restricted airflow
✗ Traps moisture
✗ Prone to pilling
✗ Traps odours
Now that you understand the difference, let's get right to how you can properly care for your wool trousers — it's much easier than you think!
Not many people know this, but wool has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties — the thin waxy coating of wool fibre contains fatty acids that inhibit the growth of mould, mildew and bacteria. The same coating repels water that can cause mildew and mould to grow.
Merino wool especially, also has antimicrobial properties, as the natural lanolin in the sheep’s wool repels odour-causing bacteria. Since merino wool manages moisture so well, there is no wet environment for bacteria to grow at all.
Since wool outperforms other fibres when it comes to odour resistance, they don't need to be washed as frequently as synthetics. Simply airing your wool trousers will help cleanse the fibre. This is an added benefit if you need to keep the clothing you carry to a minimum when travelling since you can re-wear your wool trousers multiple times.
Your wool pants shouldn't stain easily, but if you do accidentally get food stains or dust on them, you can brush them off lightly with a clothing brush — this will remove surface dirt and dust, and freshen items before returning them to the closet.
When removing dust, always remember that brushing should never be a scrubbing movement; it requires a strong sweeping motion or a firm flick of your wrist on areas where dust has accumulated.
Freshen up your clothes by using a damp brush on them — dip the bristles of your brush in a bowl of water. Then flick the water from the bristles so the brush is left slightly damp, not wet and brush as usual. If a suit is very dusty, brush it with a dry brush first and then use a slightly damp brush to freshen it up.
Since wool trousers can be worn multiple times before washing, you may feel the need to freshen up your wool garments to get rid of any odour, or refresh your garments between washes — simply spritz your trousers with The Laundress' Wool & Cashmere Spray; it's safe, non-toxic, allergen-free, and naturally repels bugs and moths.
Handwashing is recommended for preserving the long-term vitality of your garment. Fill up a washbasin with cool water and add in mild detergent, we recommend The Laundress' Wool & Cashmere Shampoo — formulated to remove stains and dirt, while being incredibly gentle on your most treasured pieces.
Next, turn your trousers inside out, submerge them, and gently mix them up; ensuring all soap and water is evenly distributed. You may soak the items for up to 30mins. Then, run cool water till your trousers are no longer soapy. Instead of wringing them, press on the garment gently to release the water instead.
If there is colour in the water, don't worry! It's normal. The yarn dye is simply releasing colour and you will not notice any loss of colour after the wash is complete.
Note: Do not try this is if your garment is lined with a dry-clean-only lining.
Remember to never use the dryer to dry your wool items — the heat from dryers can seriously damage your wool trousers and cause them to shrink.
Hang them out to air-dry naturally, and avoid placing them near heat sources. If there are creases on your trousers, steam them gently, or lay a piece of fabric over your trousers when pressing them.
Never let your iron press onto the garment directly as it may flatten the wool.
If you have heavier stains on your pants or you wear them too frequently, dry-cleaning would be a less time-consuming cleaning method than hand-washing.
Rest assured, you won't need to dry clean them after every wear — most wool pants typically only need to be dry-cleaned after 5 wears; though you may be able to re-wear some garments up to 20 times if they don’t get dirty. Remember, the chemicals in dry-cleaning can harm your clothes, so try refreshing your pants yourself with the methods above instead.
Once you get your pants home from the dry-cleaner, remove them from the bags they'll be stored in so your trousers can breathe. Keeping your wool garments in non-porous bags can yellow your garments, or weaken the fibres over time.
Instead of using thin plastic or metal hangers, hang your Merino wool pants from thicker wooden hangers; this will help to prevent getting marks on your trousers. To prevent creases, the best way to hang your pants is by using a tri-fold method.
You should think of your wool pants as a long-term investment. If you take care of your pants properly, you can expect to get many years of use from your garment. Just make sure to read the label on your pants for care instructions, or ask your tailor when you're unsure.
TLDR? Skip straight to the most frequently asked questions on how to care for your wool pants below!
Wool contains an outer layer of protein scales. The combination of heat, moisture and mechanical movement may cause the wool fibre to shrink — the scales expand and catch on each other, which "locks" the fibres closer together; preventing the fibre from returning to its original position. In other words, when you pop it in the dryer it causes the fibre of the wool to shrink in a way that won't let it expand out again.
We hope you found this article helpful in guiding you to care for your wool garments. If you've conquered your fear of wool trousers and are ready to get your hands on them, book an appointment with us today. You won't regret it.