How Do I Treat Wool Itch?

Updated April 17, 2017

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

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 fibres 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-fibre 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.


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 fibre allergy. Do not use hot water or shake the garment too hard as this will cause it to felt.

Things You'll Need

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

Amara Mandeln lives in Berlin, where she has been working as a freelance writer since 2007. Mandeln’s writing on architecture and design has been featured in "Blue Moon" travel guides and on the website "European City." She is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Bryn Mawr College.