How to Wash and Care for Your Favorite Sweater

As much as we love the cold weather and bundling up in our favorite sweater, it becomes a problem when it starts to shrink, snag, or stretch out. Learning how to wash and care for your sweater is important so you can wear it all season long!

First and foremost, you have to check the clothing labels! It’s important that you follow them carefully. Not all fabrics can be washed using the same methods. If it says “dry clean only,” you cannot put the garment in a washing machine. For those that allow machine washing, check for specific setting requirements. Some may specifically indicate a delicate cycle.

Most cotton can be machine washed. Dry cleaning, on the other hand, is highly recommended when washing wool sweaters. As another example, you might ask: How do you wash a cashmere sweater? It is either dry-cleaned or hand washed.

If you’re working with a luxury fabric, it’s safe to assume that you need to take special steps to care for it.

How Do You Hand Wash a Sweater?

Hand washing is the safest option for cleaning natural fibers. Never overcrowd a basin. It is ideal to wash one sweater at a time to ensure any soil is removed completely.

1. Pre-Treat Stains

Before washing, you must pre-treat any stain. Sometimes, this is all you need to keep your sweater looking good. You may use a stain remover, but just dab it using a cloth instead of scrubbing. Rinse well and then hand wash as normal. If necessary, repeat the process until all the stains are completely removed.

2. Fill the Tub or Sink

Never use hot water. Always fill your tub or sink with cold water. Fill it once for washing and then again for rinsing.

3. Add Your Detergent

Add a small amount of gentle detergent. Usually, half a teaspoon is enough. It will be very difficult to remove excess detergent or residue. This may cause fibers to feel scratchy or stiff.

4. Mix by Hand

You have to make sure that the sweater is submerged completely in the water. Never scrub or wring the garment to avoid pilling and stretching. Let it soak in the suds for approximately 5 minutes.

Do you have any allergies? If so, you may want to put on rubber gloves when hand washing sweaters.

5. Rinse Well

Rinse the sweater until it is free of soap. It may require several courses of refilling and rinsing completely free it of suds.

6. Drain Excess Water

Remove excess water from your sweater by squeezing. Support it from underneath as you lay it flat on an absorbent towel.

7. Absorb Excess Moisture

After laying the sweater flat on the towel, roll them together, pressing firmly as you go.

8. Air Dry

Use a sweater drying rack to help keep the shape of your garment. Hangers may stretch heavy garments quickly.

How Do You Wash Sweaters in a Machine?

Synthetic fibers, including cotton knits, can be washed using a machine. However, be careful with cotton, as it is prone to stretching or shrinkage.

1. Pre-Treat Stains

Similar to hand washing, you have to pre-treat stains before putting your sweater in the machine.

2. Use Mesh Laundry Bags

It will be helpful to use mesh bags when washing sweaters in a machine to reduce pilling and prevent snagging.

3. Set Water Temperature to Cold

Again, use cold water. Warm or hot water will fray knits and other fabrics. This will cause shrinkage.

4. Choose the Correct Setting or Cycle

A gentle or permanent-press cycle is recommended when washing knits. If you have a top-loading machine, start the cycle and let the water fill the basin. Add a small amount of detergent before adding the sweater.

On the other hand, if you are using a front load washer, add the detergent first, then the sweater, before starting the cycle.

5. Skip the Spin Cycle

Stop the machine before spinning. This process will make your sweater lose its shape.

6. Absorb Excess Moisture and Air-Dry

Follow the same steps for absorbing excess moisture as you would for hand-washed sweaters.

How Do You Store Sweaters?

Sweaters should be neatly folded in drawers. It is not advisable to hang heavy garments because the weight will stretch the shoulders quickly. Make sure they are well cleaned and dried, as soil can attract insects. Store sweaters in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Do not use plastic bags unless you are off to travel.

If you need professional help caring for your favorite sweater, contact us at Kelly’s Dry Cleaners. From basic laundering to dry cleaning in Durango, CO, we’ve got you covered!