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Ask Steve: washing merinos

Awatere Adventure socks made from 19 micron pure merino wool

Wilderness gear repair expert Steve Haase answers your questions

“What is the best and easiest way to do an impromptu clean of merinos while travelling? In particular, washing scummy merino socks on ski trips tends to be essential. My usual technique is stomping on them during a shower, using my soap runoff, but it doesn’t work quite as well as I wish it did.”

– Arran Whiteford

Steve says: Your best bet is to go old school and handwash. For merino and technical base layers, I would recommend Nikwax WoolWash or Grangers 30 Degree Cleaner. Both of these are liquid cleaners and are better than powder because you don’t have to worry about undissolved powder leaving residue on your garments.

If you can get your hands on a bucket or sink, use a small amount of cleaner and give the garments a good wash, squeeze and knead for two-three minutes. Drain the soapy water and rinse well in fresh water. Gently squeeze the water out of the garment without wringing it, then if you can place it flat on a towel, roll the towel and step on it several times. Line dry.

Drying clothing overnight can be an issue, a common trick is to use your body warmth while sleeping. I wouldn’t recommend putting a whole washing machine load in your sleeping bag, but a pair of socks and base layer will, if not dry, at least be warm when you put them on in the morning. Be the agitator.

– Steve Haase runs Christchurch-based gear repair company TwinNeedle Outdoor Equipment Repairs

Arran wins two pairs of Awatere Adventure socks made from 19 micron pure merino wool and with a combined value of $70. www.mihimerino.com. Head to www.wildernessmag.co.nz (keyword search: Ask Steve) to ask your gear-related questions.