I regularly get asked to explain the difference between my regular Merino wool tops and my TEC (Superwash) Merino wool so I thought I would try to explain it here.
Both of these amazing wool fibres are grown right here in my home state of Tasmanian and are both from some of the top wool growers in this big country.
The main difference is in the processing of the fibres. Most people are familliar with the general process involved in scouring and processing regular wool but the Superwash or to be more precise, TEC, Total Easy Care process used on superwash wool is handled a little differently.
TEC wool is usually spun into yarns for the luxury apparel and garment industry often sent as wool tops to countries like Italy for the spinning, dyeing and finishing process.
Total Easy Care (TEC) Merino apparel is designed for today's busy lifestyle. Total Easy Care Merino garments are all machine-washable, and some are suitable for tumble drying.
Even after frequent laundering they retain an 'as new' appearance. They won't shrink, lose their shape, fade or colour-bleed. They remain soft and comfortable for the life of the garment.
Total Easy Care technology is available worldwide and has been available commercially since around 1998.
For fine gauge knitted garments, which are generally made from worsted-spun yarns, the Total Easy Care treatment is often applied at top stage prior to the spinning process. Most larger commercial wool spinning companies offer Total Easy Care wool yarns in 100% Merino wool or blended with other fibres.
For woollen-spun products such as lambswool sweaters, the Total Easy Care treatment is normally applied to the knitted garment during the final wet-finishing process, although some spinners do offer woollen-spun yarns made from Total Easy Care treated fibre.
Principle of the TEC wool top treatment
The treatment process is usual done to modify the scale structure of the wool fiber and impart shrink-resist properties.
The treatment modifies and improves the natural characteristics of wool.
The sharp ends of the scales are rounded or more or less removed. This makes the fiber smother, more even and improves the shrinkage or felting during the washing process.
The process consists of an oxidative pre-treatment followed by application of a special polymer which swells during washing and masks the scale edges responsible for felting.
- Permanent treatment with stands gentle machine washes at very low temperatures.
- Specified garments and products can be tumble dried on a very low heat.
- Garment retains shape and as-new appearance.
- No colour change or colour bleeding during washing.
- Comfortable and luxurious handle.