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The difference between natural and superwash wool

Written by Cindy Schumacher


Posted on March 08 2024


Natural Wool and Superwash Wool


When it comes to wool, there are many different types available, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. Two common types of wool that you may come across are natural wool and superwash wool. But what exactly is the difference between these two? Let's explore.

What is Natural Wool?

Natural wool refers to wool that has not undergone any chemical treatment to alter its natural properties. It is the purest form of wool, straight from the sheep's back. Natural wool is known for its exceptional warmth, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties. It has a natural crimp that helps to trap air, providing insulation and keeping you warm in cold weather. Additionally, natural wool has a natural resistance to fire and is also biodegradable, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

What is Superwash Wool?

Superwash wool, on the other hand, is wool that has been treated to make it machine washable. The process involves removing the scales on the wool fibers, which are responsible for the natural felting and shrinking properties of wool. By removing these scales, superwash wool becomes more resistant to felting and shrinking when exposed to water and agitation. This makes it easier to care for and maintain, as it can be machine washed without the risk of shrinking.

Key Differences

One of the main differences between natural wool and superwash wool is their care requirements. Natural wool requires more delicate care, as it is prone to felting and shrinking when exposed to water and agitation. It is best to hand wash natural wool items in cool water with a gentle detergent. Superwash wool can be machine washed on a gentle cycle, making it more convenient for everyday use.

In terms of texture, natural wool tends to have a slightly rougher feel compared to superwash wool. This is because the scales on the wool fibers give it a slightly coarse texture. Superwash wool has a smoother and softer feel, as the scales have been removed.

Another important difference is the availability of colors. Natural wool is known for its ability to absorb dyes deeply, resulting in vibrant and rich colors. Superwash wool, however, may not absorb dyes as well, leading to slightly lighter or less saturated colors.

Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between natural wool and superwash wool ultimately depends on your needs and preferences. If you value the natural properties of wool and don't mind the extra care required, natural wool is a great choice. It provides excellent insulation, breathability, and moisture-wicking properties. On the other hand, if convenience and ease of care are important to you, superwash wool is the way to go. It usually can be machine washed without worrying about felting or shrinking.

Whether you choose natural wool or superwash wool, both options offer the warmth and comfort that wool is known for. So, consider your lifestyle and priorities, and make a choice that suits you best.