One of the wonderful attributes of Mackinaw Wool is that the same physical characteristics that make it perform so well in cold, wet weather also make caring for it an easy, trouble-free process. Below are guidelines for maintaining your Mackinaw Wool that will help maximize its performance and longevity.
Maintaining Mackinaw Wool
Wool’s complex fiber structure consists of tiny filaments sheathed in a layer of overlapping scales that are coated with lanolin, a naturally waxy substance that helps repel water. This structure also helps keep particles from adhering to the fibers. Much like on a non-stick frying pan, foreign particles are able to release from wool fibers with ease. When your Mackinaw Wool gets mud or dirt on it, allow it to dry completely, then gently scrub off with a medium-stiff nylon brush. The dried dirt simply pops off the wool, leaving no trace that it was there.
Many odors, such as campfire smoke, can be removed from Mackinaw Wool by tumbling it in a warm dryer for an hour. This process causes the tiny, odor-carrying particles to release from the wool, leaving it fresh and odor-free. The wool should be completely dry before tumbling it in the dryer, otherwise it will shrink.
We recommend drying Mackinaw Wool at room temperature. Some folks will hang it by a wood-burning stove, but caution should be used when doing so. Too close, and it can scorch, and the more heat is used, the more your wool will shrink. If wool is stored away while damp or wet, mildew or mold can begin to grow. If this happens, dry cleaning is the only cure.
Deep-Cleaning Your Wool
Sometimes a deep-cleaning is required to remove oil stains from Mackinaw Wool. Dry cleaning is the only process we recommend for this—washing with soap and water will result in shrinkage, even if it’s air-dried afterward. Dry cleaning should be performed minimally, as the chemicals used will strip some of the lanolin from the wool. Since it’s so easy to remove dirt and odors from Mackinaw Wool, professional dry-cleaning is rarely required.
Preventing Moth Damage
Preventing moths from chewing holes in your wool is an easy process that requires a bit of planning, but very little effort and investment. Moths are only active during warm-weather months, so properly storing your Mackinaw Wool before the summer is the best way to prevent moth damage.
Moths do not have an affinity for the taste of wool—they are attracted to odors trapped in it. The processes described above for removing odors will help to prevent moth damage–tumbling in the dryer, or dry-cleaning if absolutely necessary. After removing any odors, cover your wool with an inexpensive, breathable-cloth bag before hanging it up for the season. For an additional layer of protection, put some cedar chips in the bottom of the bag—cedar has an odor that moths dislike. Alternatively, closet space can be saved during the summer by storing your (de-odorized) wool in a plastic tote with a tight lid. The tote can be stored in the garage, but you’ll want to make sure no mice or other critters can get to it.
The Bottom Line
Mackinaw Wool has been our most-trusted cold-weather protection for over a century, and these easy-maintenance tips will ensure yours provides reliable service for years to come.