Is Alpaca Wool Stain-Resistant? (Tested & Explained)
Ever spilled red wine on a nice shirt? Did it leave stains? People seem to claim that alpaca woolen products are stain-resistant. I couldn’t find any evidence, so I decided to test it for myself. Let’s see what I discovered!
Alpaca woolen garments are stain-resistant to a high degree. While they are NOT 100% stain proof, liquid is likely to be repelled before it can cause a permanent stain. Due to the unique fiber texture, alpaca wool doesn’t absorb liquids easily, making it highly stain-resistant.
That sounds promising, right?! Let’s see if it actually works this way!
The Red Wine Trick
I am not entirely sure why, but many claims specifically say that you could spill a glass of red wine on an alpaca woolen garment without leaving a trace. So, whether this is because red wine is known to stain particularly well, or people who wear alpaca wool are especially drawn to drinking red wine (or red wine drinkers are especially drawn to alpaca wool?)...
Whatever the reason… I tested it out!
In this experiment in which an alpaca woolen sample is exposed to a staining liquid (red wine), I expect to see that the red wine can be “wicked off” from the fabric. If the wine would stay in touch with the fiber for a longer period of time, I expect to see that some of it will be absorbed by the wool fiber, leaving a stain.
I am expecting that the claim of alpaca wool being stain-resistant is partially true.
This incredibly high-standard and groundbreaking research only required three main test-subjects:
One sample patch of 100% alpaca wool
One glass of red wine
I put the sample patch on the kitchen towel
I poured a drop of red wine onto the patch
THE WINE JUST SLIPPED THROUGH THE WOOL ONTO THE KITCHEN TOWEL WITHOUT LEAVING A STAIN!
I had to squeeze out some more of the leftover wine, but even the amount that had already been absorbed by the wool still came off without leaving a trace!
I did not see that coming!
If you look closely at the fabric, you can see a little trace of where the wine “got spilled”, but for red wine on a piece of white wool I’m pretty impressed!
Check out the full experiment here on YouTube and see for yourself what happened!
Why Is Alpaca Wool Stain Resistant?
Alpaca wool has a unique fiber structure: to begin with, it is actually hair, not wool. There are some essential differences between hair and wool, the main difference being that alpaca wool has no lanolin (or at least very little, according to Cameron Holt).
Compared to regular sheep wool, there is another important difference in favor of alpaca wool: the scales on an alpaca fiber are much smaller and shorter than the scales on a coarser fiber. So the fineness of the fiber actually makes the wool stain-resistant.
If you were to put alpaca wool under a loupe, you would see tiny little scales covering the fiber. These scales are normal for wool and hair and give the fiber protection, insulating properties and determine its softness. Given that alpaca wool generally has a very small diameter means that its scales are smaller, too.
Smaller scales are better able to seclude the fiber core (which is where the stain would get “stuck”) and thus provides more protection. While this is not a 100% waterproof protection, it is definitely much, much better compared to many other fibers!
As you can see in the video, I could easily wipe off the wine to begin with. Because the texture is smooth the wine sipped through the fabric onto the kitchen towel.
Disclaimers and Question Marks
While the experiment showed that the wine didn’t cause much of a stain, I need to emphasize that there was a bit of a stain after squeezing out the wine completely. Like I said, it is not 100% stain resistant, but the stain is barely noticeable.
On the other hand, I probably could have put the sample under running water to rinse out any leftover wine. I expect that this would have left the sample unmarked.
On the other, other hand, I imagine you’re not wearing kitchen towels underneath your clothing as a baselayer, so keep in mind that while your alpaca woolen garment may refrain from stains, the layer you are wearing underneath may not!
Imagine you’re wearing a cotton shirt underneath an alpaca woolen garment, the cotton shirt would probably be super stained, absorbing all the moisture from the layer above.
One important factor for this is the knit and thickness of the fiber: for my sample I’ve used a super average stitch and fiber thickness, so there is room for the wine to “sip through”, but it won’t go extremely fast either. Loose knitted garments will have more room for the wine to sip through, while woven fabrics might be so tight that not a drip will stain an underneath layer!
What To Do When You Spill Something on an Alpaca Woolen Garment?
Let’s say you’ve actually accidentally dropped some wine or food on an alpaca woolen garment… If it’s liquid, try to wick it off as fast as possible. Acting quickly is of major importance here! “Slap” as much liquid off as quickly as you can (make sure you don’t aim it at other people or other garments or even straight onto the carpet!!).
Then, when most of the liquid is wicked away, grab a kitchen towel or a type of fabric that you can use to absorb the remaining liquid (make sure it’s dry for the best absorption!). Gently squeeze the towel or tissue onto the fabric or dab until the remainder of the liquid is gone.
If it’s a bit more of a rougher stain, try rinsing it off with running water.
Whatever you do, don’t RUB, TWIST or WRING the fabric, as this will damage the fiber and cause more irreversible harm!
If the stain doesn’t come off immediately, you can try washing the garment.
For a step by step guide on how to wash alpaca woolen products, check out my article:
Prevention Is Better Than Cure!
Don’t forget: while alpaca woolen garments are pretty stain-resistant, it doesn’t mean that you should go ahead and shower in tomato sauce. The results from my experiment don’t guarantee that your alpaca woolen garment will resist stains similarly.
Like I said earlier, the stitch, the quality of the yarn, the thickness, the type of stain, the time the fabric is exposed to the stain, the temperature of the liquid and many other factors ALL play a huge role in the degree of stain-resistance. The fact that my woolen sample came out pretty unharmed, doesn’t guarantee that yours will, too.