How Do I Treat Wool Itch?

Soften your wool so that it is comfortable to wear.
Soften your wool so that it is comfortable to wear. (Image: feeling my sweater image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from

Commonly used in winter attire, moisture-wicking wool fibers provide natural insulation. However, wool can chafe your skin and cause a persistent itch. Short-haired fibers, such as Shetland, are particularly stiff and scratchy. You can avoid the uncomfortable experience of wool itch by pre-treating wool garments with hair conditioner or by choosing long-hair wool fibers like Merino.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-soluble conditioner
  • Towel or drying rack
  • Gentle body cleanser
  • Talcum powder

Fill your sink with cool water. For a small item such as a hat or a scarf, add 1 tbsp. of conditioner. For a sweater, add 3 tbsp.

Submerge your garment in the sink and soak it for 10 minutes.

Swish the wool item slowly around in the water for a few minutes. Do not scrub the garment or move it too vigorously as this will cause the wool fibers to condense, mat together and turn into felt.

Drain the water and thoroughly rinse your piece of clothing with cool water. Squeeze out the excess water from your garment gently, but do not wring it, as wringing will cause it to lose its shape.

Lay your garment on a towel and carefully reshape it. Dry it completely before wearing.

Look for clothing made from Merino wool or other long-fiber wools when shopping for items in the future. Test any item before purchasing it by rubbing it against your neck.

Wash irritated skin carefully with a gentle cleanser and lightly cover the area with talcum powder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wool items should always be dried flat, either on a drying rack or a towel. Drying wool in a dryer or hanging it from a clothesline will cause the garment to lose its shape.
  • Do not use a conditioner with silicone or other non-water soluble ingredients, as these chemicals will damage your clothing.
  • If the itch does not go away, make an appointment to see a doctor. You may have an animal fiber allergy.
  • Do not use hot water or shake the garment too hard as this will cause it to felt.

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  • "Knitting Tips and Trade Secrets"; Mary Galpin Barnes; 1996
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