What is superwash wool?

Superwash wool is regular wool that has been chemically treated to remove the microscopic scales and prevents felting and shrinkage. In most cases, fiber is exposed to a chlorine solution which erodes the scales and then coated with a polymer or resin. The superwash process can be a hot-button topic with two polarized sides.

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On one side, superwash wool has helped to revitalize the American wool industry by creating transparency in the supply chain, developing a product made entirely in the US, and creating new demand for wool products.  It also increases the dyeability of wool and reduces pilling.

On the other side, many individuals suggest that because the superwash process uses chemicals to alter the product, some of those chemicals may remain in the fiber supply. While there is no research that supports this at this time, research has shown that many superwash facilities don’t process their run-off wastewater properly, which can contribute to air and water pollution.  Many spinners also point out that there are natural alternatives that don’t felt, like down breed wools and many plant fibers.

At the time of writing this book, only one US company, Chargeurs Wool US, produces superwash wool in the United States. Chargeurs maintains its own wastewater treatment facilities and employs environmental best management practices.

 


Cobb, D. (2015, August 05). American Wool: Alive and Kicking. Retrieved November 04, 2017, from https://sourcingjournalonline.com/american-wool-alive-kicking-debra/

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