Is Wool Blend Warm and is it Good Compared to 100% Wool?

For centuries, men and women have needed to keep warm and dry during the coldest parts of the year.  Because of its versatility, wool has been recognized for its ability to insulated, even in wet conditions. But what about wool fabric blend? Is wool blend warm?

Wool blend is warm, but often not as warm as 100% wool. Higher wool content (60% or better) in a blend offers better insulating properties. Wool is typically blended with synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester or other natural fabrics like cotton and silk. Although these added fabrics can improve softness and reduce cost, they often do not insulate as well.

There are a variety of reasons a company may choose to use a wool fabric blend. Yes, reducing cost is one of the reasons, but there are also positives, like improving comfort and/or durability, and making the garment easier to care for.

In this article let’s discuss how warm wool blend is and compared wool blend fabric to 100% wool so you can decide which option might be best for your specific needs.  

Is Wool Blend Warm?

No one fabric can meet all our needs, and that’s why there is such a variety of materials in the textile industry. Blended fabrics are used in an effort to create a fabric with the right combination of characteristics such as warmth (or cool), durability, ease-of-care, flexibility, and comfort. 

The purpose of blending two or more types of fibers is to capture most of the good qualities of each and minimize the less desirable ones.

Wool blend fabric succeeds in retaining the warmth properties of wool while mixing them with other fibers to enhance performance or appearance at a lower cost than 100% pure wool. 

How well a wool blend actually keeps you warm depends on several factors:

  • Percentage of wool used in the blend
  • Type of wool used
  • What other fibers are combined with the wool
  • How the fabric is woven

Wool is most often blended with synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon for better durability.  It is also combined with silk for a softer, less scratchy feel and with cotton for better (cooler) performance in warm weather.

Is Wool Blend Waterproof?

Wool blend is not waterproof. In fairness, 100% wool, although water-resistant, is not 100% waterproof either. Overall, most wool blend fabric does not offer the same level of water-resistance as 100% wool.

Some types of wool blends (usually involving nylon) may be treated with a DWR finish to make the fabric water-resistant (see this example). But even treated wool blend fabric won’t be completely waterproof, and will only be able to fend off light precipitation.

Is Wool Blend Good Compared to 100% Wool?

Wools can be found blended in a range of proportions with other fibers.  Common ratios of polyester to wool include 65/35, 60/40, and 55/45. For increased warmth, a blend of at least 50% wool is recommended.

Wool blends containing a higher percentage of wool compare favorably with the performance of 100% wool.  According to a University of Nebraska guide for sewing and buying wool products, the official Woolblend Mark is awarded to blends that are quality-tested and contain at least 60% wool in addition to other natural or synthetic fibers.

Wool can be paired with a variety of materials.  Pure wool and wool blends both offer several benefits, but each has a few downsides (source, source).

CharacteristicsWoolWool Blend
WarmthExcellent insulatorNot as warm as pure wool
Moisture-wickingAbsorbent fibers keep moisture away from skinWool/nylon: good wicking Wool/cotton: Stays wet and heavy 
Feel (also known as “hand”)Itchy to the skinSofter, silkier, less itchy
Odor & stain resistanceNaturally antimicrobial Harder to clean stains
Resilience/ShrinkageCan lose its original shape and sizeWool/Nylon: Improved ability to hold original shapeWool/cotton: Prone to shrinkage
Year-round UseBest for coldest temperaturesHandles heat and cold
Insect attractionAttracts moths who eat holes in wool fabricLess likely to attract moths due to the presence of other fibers

Is Wool Blend Machine Washable?

According to Woolmark, wool blends can be machine or hand-washed (although there may be some exceptions). Many types of 100% wool garments need to be dry cleaned, so buying a wool fabric blend may save you trips to the dry cleaners.

Since wool fabrics are more odor and stain-resistant, they don’t need washing as often, but it’s good to know you can do it yourself when needed. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Use the Wool setting on the washing machine if available.  
  2. If a Wool setting is not an option, choose a gentle cycle such as Delicate.
  3. Use a mild detergent that is recommended for wool and wool blends.

Tip:  Before you attempt to wash a wool or wool blend fabric, be sure to check the item’s tag for specific instructions.  Certain blends may not be suited for washing of any kind.

How Should a Wool Blend be Dried?

Woolmark suggests that air drying is the best way to dry a wool or wool blend fabric unless the item’s tag specifically indicates that machine drying is okay.

In particular, sweaters and other loosely-woven knits should be placed on a lint-free, flat surface.  Use a light-colored or white towel underneath the item to help absorb moisture and prevent accidental color bleed.  Hanging or line-drying can cause stretching.

Avoid excessive or direct sunlight and direct heat.  These can result in damage to the item or discoloration.  

Why Do Companies Use Wool Blend Fabric?

Textile manufacturers like to incorporate other types of fibers into their wool products for several reasons.  Because each fabric has its pros and cons, it is often advantageous to include dual fibers to maximize the functionality and appearance of the product.

The primary reasons for creating a wool blend include:

  • Reduced cost:  The manufacturing cost of the item is reduced, but the inclusion of wool allows a higher price to be charged to the consumer.
  • Better feel:  Adding other fibers such as cotton or silk counterbalances the itchiness of wool and increases the item’s softness.
  • Ease of care:  Lowering the wool content by bringing in a synthetic fabric makes the item easier to wash and dry without special or delicate methods.
  • Improved durability:  Adding nylon or polyester to wool significantly increases the garment’s life by reducing pilling and shrinkage.
  • Stretchability:  The design of wool fibers doesn’t allow for much give-and-take.  Adding synthetics or cotton to wool improves the ability of the item to stretch a bit as needed.
  • Less weight:  Adding lightweight synthetic fabrics help offset the natural heaviness of pure wool.

Is Wool Blend Itchy?

As we discussed above, one reason companies may incorporate other materials into wool is to reduce the amount of itchiness. But it is important to understand that the type of material added to wool can differ, and may affect how itchy the wool blend remains.

Usually, cotton or silk counterbalances the itchiness of wool and increases the fabric’s softness. But even wool blend fabric can feel a bit itchy compared to other fabrics like 100% cotton (is cotton blend warm?).

Other Wool Information

If you are interested in wool, or wool blend, clothing, some of our other content linked below may help you find what you are looking for:

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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