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The Best Way to Wash SmartWool Socks & Clothing

March 26, 2023

SmartWool is an apparel company that is known for their wool clothing. Based in Colorado, the brand sells a variety of items for men, women, and children. In addition to that, they also offer accessories such as beanies, neck gaiters, gloves, and blankets.

Fabrics Used by SmartWool

Merino Wool

how to wash smartwoolMerino wool is a special type of wool that comes from Merino sheep. Famed for their incredibly soft wool, these animals are recognized by their curly horns and wrinkly skins.

Many people love Merino wool due to its softness, which makes it ideal for all types of clothing. It’s also more resilient than regular yarn and stretches easier due to its natural curl or “fiber crimp.”


Polyester is one of the most common types of technical fiber used in athletic clothing. It’s super durable and is resistant to shrinking, wrinkles, and abrasions. It’s also much cheaper than other types of materials. By nature, the fiber is also moisture-wicking, which makes it fantastic for activewear.


Elastane is a type of stretchy material that’s often incorporated in sportswear. Also known as spandex or Lycra, it offers great comfort and freedom of movement.

It’s also known for its stretch and ability to recover, which makes it suitable for workout clothing.


Nylon is similar to polyester in that it’s highly durable. It’s also super lightweight and doesn’t wrinkle like other materials.

More often than not, it’s combined with other fibers such as polyester, cotton, or spandex.

How to Wash SmartWool Socks

how to wash smartwoolNow that we know more about the materials, let’s take a look at how you wash SmartWool Products. Let’s begin with one of their best sellers—socks.

Putting SmartWool Socks in the Washing Machine

Start by turning the socks inside out – that will not only reduce piling but will also prevent lint from accumulating on the outside.

While you can wash them with other Merino wool items (as long as they’re of similar colors), avoid putting them in the same load as jackets, denim, or anything with hardware.

Add one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent to the soap compartment and wash the SmartWool socks with cold water on a gentle cycle. While their wool is resistant to shrinking (more so than regular wool), there’s still a chance that it can happen so you want to avoid using hot water.

Pro-tip: Do not use bleach – it will destroy the Merino wool fibers. Similarly, you want to avoid bleach or fabric softener. These products will reduce the fibers’ natural ability to regulate body temperature.

Take the SmartWool socks out once the cycle is done and lay them flat on a clean surface to dry (wool can become distorted if hung up on a clothesline). Avoid putting wool garments in the dryer in general as the heat can damage the fibers.

Washing SmartWool Socks by Hand

You can also hand wash Merino wool socks.

First things first, fill a sink or bucket with cold water. Add half a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent to the water and swirl the mixture with your hand to mix.

Once the powder is dissolved, plop your socks in. Lightly press down on them to ensure they are all fully submerged. Soak for approximately 30 minutes.

Pick up the socks from the sink and wash the fabric by massaging it with your fingers. When you’re finished, rinse off the detergent with plain water.

You might have to run them under the faucet for a couple of minutes to get rid of all of the soap suds. Gently squeeze out the excess water afterward and lay them flat on a towel.

Allow them to air dry. Try not to put them in the dryer if possible.

The Best Ways to Clean SmartWool Underwear

These types of Merino wool clothing are considered ‘delicates’ and should be washed separately from other items.

Machine Washing Merino Wool Underwear

how to wash smartwoolTo prevent the elastic from stretching, place the underwear in a mesh lingerie bag. If you don’t have a laundry bag, you can improvise with a pillow case – just use an elastic to tie off one of the ends.

Add one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent powder to the washer and place the SmartWool underwear in.

Choose a delicate wash setting and run the cycle using cold water. Avoid using hot water as that can cause the wool to shrink.

Wait for the cycle to finish before taking out the undergarments. Lay them flat or hang them up to dry. Every once in a while, you can also put them in the dryer on the lowest setting.

Hand Washing SmartWool Underwear

Start by filling a sink with cold water. Add a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent and mix with your hands until the powder is completely dissolved.

Immerse the underwear in the soapy solution and let them sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Try not to overload the sink area (you can prevent this by filling it 3/4 full with water).

Swirl the undergarments in the mixture and massage the fabric with your hands. Rinse the detergent away with clean water afterward. You may have to repeat the process a few times until the water comes out clear.

Lay the underwear flat on a towel and press down lightly to remove the excess water.

Hang the garments up on a clothesline and wait for them to air dry. Do not put them in the dryer – the heat can cause the Merino wool garment to shrink.

Washing Instructions for SmartWool Hats, Gloves and Scarves

how to wash smartwoolFill a small bucket or container with cold water and mix in one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent. Agitate it with your hands to create a soapy solution.

Submerge your hat, gloves, or scarf fully in the water and let them soak for about 15 minutes.

Rinse away the detergent afterward by holding them under a stream of water. Continue until the water runs clear.

Gently squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Avoid wringing the items as that will damage the Merino fibers.

Hang up the gloves and hats and let them air dry. As for scarves, it’s best to lay them flat on a clean surface. Avoid putting them in the dryer.

Best Laundry Detergent for SmartWool

ACTIVE Detergent is the best choice for Merino wool gear, including those by SmartWool.

how to wash smartwoolIt’s specially formulated for activewear and contains plant enzymes that will dissolve dirt, sweat, and oils that are trapped within the wool fibers. It’s also all-natural and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, meaning it won’t cause skin irritation or pollute the waterways.

Merino Wool Care – FAQ

Will Merino wool shrink in the dryer?

Yes, Merino wool clothes can shrink if exposed to heat. Given that, it’s best to air dry your wool garments.

Should you wash Merino wool garments with warm or cool water?

It’s best to use cool water. Warm water can cause the wool to shrink or wear out prematurely.

Can you wash Merino wool clothes with other items?

It’s best to wash them separately. However, you can wash them with other Merino wool items if they’re of similar colors.

Should I machine wash or hand wash my Merino wool items?

Hand washing is the best option as it’s the gentlest on the wool fibers. However, you can also use the washing machine if you take the proper precautions, such as using a mesh laundry bag.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

Comments (3)

  • Scott Reply

    I have a Smartwool sweater. Can I wash it in an auto washing machine? Do I use warm/cold settings? FYI, I am Nick Russell’s Dad !!

    February 20, 2022 at 7:07 am
  • Mary Smith Reply

    You did not say in this article on how to wash Smartwool sweater. Can I put it in the washing machine? Or does it need to be dry cleaned?

    November 18, 2021 at 4:20 pm
  • Stephen Ryan Reply

    Wash winter gloves made of acrylic wool. You can hand-wash Acrylic wool with mild detergent, too. And the method is similar to washing Merino wools; as long as you do not use hot water, you are fine.To machine-wash the pair, you should put it into a cloth bag to prevent the washing cycle from sagging the glove textiles. Besides, please set the delicate and gentle cycle with a short spin. You can dry the piece with an absorbent towel, too.

    October 4, 2021 at 6:42 am

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