Is lanolin in your wool detergent a good or bad idea?

If you google how best to take care of your woollen clothes, you will find a lot of different opinions. One piece of advice that keeps popping up, is that you should choose a detergent which contains lanolin or give your wool items a lanolin treatment.

We disagree and would like to explain why.

What is lanolin?

Lanolin is the surplus fat that comes from the skin of sheep and protects the wool, and the sheep. It comes from the wool that is sheared from the sheep. Lanolin has been in different skincare products for a long time as it has a water repelling effect which protects the sheep and also prevents moisture from leaving their skin, keeping it nice and soft. This leads us to the main point of this blog post, why lanolin shouldn’t be used in the detergent you use on your woollen underwear..

A bad idea: using lanolin to wash woollen base layers

At DILLING, our woollen underwear does not contain lanolin because its water-repellent properties make it difficult to treat and dye. The water-repellent effect makes it difficult for the dyes to penetrate through the wool fibres, therefore the lanolin is completely washed out before the dyeing process has even begun. If lanolin is re-added through the use of detergent, the wool becomes water-repellent once again, making it difficult for the woollen clothing to absorb moisture and sweat from the body. It would be a shame to hinder the wool’s ability to absorb u to 33% of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet. This is what makes wool fantastic for sports and outdoor activities, as it keeps you warm and dry, even during breaks. This property is only maintained if lanolin is not added, therefore we recommend you use detergents without lanolin in them.

A great idea: using lanolin to wash woollen outer layers

If you aren’t supposed to wash your woollen underwear with lanolin, why are we contradicting ourselves? We would like to make it clear that using lanolin is not always a bad idea. Detergent’s containing lanolin are excellent for woollen outerwear. For example, it is very beneficial for your wool jacket to be water-repellent in order to protect you from the rain.

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DILLING is a Danish family enterprise with a long tradition of producing organic wool products that will keep you warm. Today, we make organic clothing in organic merino wool and cotton for the whole family with the fourth generation, Morten Dilling, at the helm. Our organic wool wear sells at favourable prices because you are buying directly from the manufacturer.

You’ll find soft, breathable, and allergy-friendly clothing in natural materials on our website, produced without harmful chemicals and within Europe's borders under good working conditions.

Most of our products are certified with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and gently dyed at DILLING's own dyehouse in Denmark.

You'll find DILLING's products in the following countries: