Wool produces an intense displeasing smell when wet. This is related to the fact that wool contains a water-resistant waxy substance called “lanolin” that is found in sheep coats. When wet, the strong odor that emits from wool is because of lanolin.
Wool is quick to catch odors. However, such smells are easy to get rid of. Proper cleaning, drying, and storing of the products will help immensely to protect the wool.
Why Does Wool Smell When Wet?
Natural wool has a substance called “lanolin”. It is a waxy substance in nature and sheep often secrete it to prevent their fleece from getting wet. As this substance makes the sheep coats waterproof, it often results in a strong smell when wet.
Even after being heavily processed, lanolin becomes a part of the wool and the wool will have a trace amount of waxy material. That is why high-quality wool products will have the smell of lanolin. When wet, it will produce a very bad smell.
To prevent this, products made from wool are heavily processed or “super washed”. However, you probably won’t know what is that smell like unless you are a chemist. Oddly enough, lanolin typically smells like wet socks.
However, wool also absorbs odors in the air pretty quickly. Walking into a room filled with smoke will make your sweater smell like smoke. Storing the wool in a closet will result in the sweater smelling like mothballs. This is because wool is good at trapping odors and smells.
Similar to grass green or sky blue anchor colors, wet wool gives off an anchor smell. Also, you can express other smells such as wines, and wet dogs as having a wet wool component.
Wool rugs can be especially smelly and unpleasant when it is exposed to moisture or water. This is because wool comes from sheep fibers. In general, the odor is reminiscent of barnyard animals or wet dogs.
How Do I Stop My Wool From Smelling?
One surefire way to avoid smelly wool is to make sure that it is completely dry. To avoid permanent odor problems, you have to act sooner. You can simply hang the wool product outside in direct sunlight and then bring it inside at night to prevent it from collecting dew.
In the case of you living in a region with a very wet or humid climate, hanging your wool outside will probably be impossible. Instead, try hanging it up indoors and setting a fan up. The fan will blow in the direction of the wool and the moisture will be gone.
Another thing to keep in mind is to spray a liberal amount of baking soda on the wool when it is done drying outdoors or indoors. After applying the baking soda, you have to let it seat for at least an hour and then vacuum it up.
Why Does Wool Smell Weird?
Wool has the property of absorbing and locking odors during wear. Its fiber actively binds odors where bacteria cannot survive. When laundered, these odors are emitted.
Moreover, wool rugs can absorb liquid quite easily as they penetrate the fibers. This causes a strong scent which becomes strenuous to remove. For this type of odor, you have to soak the wool for ten minutes and then use a layer of paper towels to properly soak up the liquid.
Besides, wool also produces a rather unique smell when it gets wet. The smell is much like a distinctive “wet dog” smell. This indicates that the wool needs to get washed. Mainly this is due to a natural substance known as “lanolin”.
Does Wool Always Smell When Wet?
Wool sweaters attract bad odors and funky smells like a magnet. It can trap from armpit odor to smoke and it can do so for ages. When wet, natural wool smells like sheep that put people off. Storing your sweater can be another pain if it starts smelling like mothballs. If you do not use mothballs, it will start smelling like mildew.
However, you should not notice such smells at all if the wool product is completely dry. Over time, the lanolin content will dissipate and the smell will be less noticeable.
Does Wet Wool Smell Like Pee?
When the woolen diaper cover for kids has been used for about one week, you will start getting the smell of urine. This can be considered a sign that the lanolin has been used up. Now it is time to give the wool a new dose of lanolin. Only then it can once again work optimally.
Although, you will need to get a nighttime diaper if you want to use wool for overnights. This is true even if your wool starts smelling like pee quickly and leaks. In that case, workhorses are not applicable as you will need something more absorbent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does wool stay warm when wet?
Wool can keep you warm even in the rain because it can soak up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture without getting wet. The fibers have a natural crimp. Therefore, it helps to wick the moisture away from the body.
Is wool weak when wet?
Yes, when the wool is wet, the fibers get weaker. The tiny pores in the epicuticle make the fibers semipermeable. As a result, it allows the vapor to pass through the fiber.
In short, wet wool is no good news. The odor from wet wool is rather displeasing and you cannot wear the garment anywhere. Always try to keep the wool product or rugs in a dry area away from water. Washing it intermittently also helps to remove body odors.