How To Wash A Sweater

February 9, 2015

How to Wash a Sweater

Sweaters don’t have to be washed after every wear, but they do need to be cleaned every so often. I wash mine after every seven to ten wears, and at the end of each winter season. Doing so keeps them safe from critters such as silverfish and moths when I store them away in the spring.

Generally speaking, tough cotton knits (such as sweatshirts) can be thrown in the laundry, while finer cottons and anything made from wool or cashmere will need to be hand washed. Thankfully, the process of hand washing something is pretty easy:

  • First, scrub out your sink basin and fill it up with cool water. Then put in a small amount of gentle detergent. I use Woolite Extra Delicates Care, while our advertiser The Hanger Project sells formulas from The Laundress and Johnstons of Elgin. I’ve also heard of people using gentle shampoo. Whatever you choose, put in a small amount and swish that stuff around until you see suds.
  • Submerge your sweater and gently move it around, just to loosen up the dirt. Leave it in for about ten or fifteen minutes before returning to swish it around some more. If you want, you can scrub the collar and cuffs, but be gentle.
  • Drain the basin and fill it up again with water, so that you can rinse the soap out. Don’t let the stream of water hit your sweater, however. Otherwise, the fabric can felt.
  • Once you’ve gotten the soap out, drain the basin again and carefully gather your sweater into a ball. Squeeze the water out by compressing the ball, but don’t wring. Yarns are extra delicate when wet.
  • Now lay your sweater on a clean, dry, white towel (colored towels can sometimes transfer dyes). Roll the towel and sweater up together, squeezing as you work, to get any excess moisture out.
  • Finally, take your sweater out and lay it somewhere to dry. Try to put it as close to its original form as possible and set it away from direct sunlight or heat. To get some air circulating from underneath, I like sweater drying racks (which you can get built-into a wall if you’re fancy), but you can also just lay your sweater out on a table. If you do, put it on a different towel, since the previous one is probably a bit damp and can cause mildew.

Bonus tip: Button a cardigan before washing. This will help help maintain its shape.

The process sounds kind of involved, but your actual work time should only be about ten minutes. It’s a small price to pay to make a sweater feel new again.

(photo via Because I’m Addicted)