The Delicate Cycle Isn’t So Delicate – 10 Tips for Sweater Care
In today’s wash and wear world, we often forget that beautiful fibers like Merino wool need a little special care to ensure they last a lifetime.
1. Smelling pretty.
Merino wool is coated in natural lanolin, this lanolin acts as a barrier to odor and is a natural stain repellent. Unless your garment is visibly stained, you really don’t need to wash it. You can wear your wool items many times before they need a little sprucing up. This isn’t just a great time saver – but it’s also super friendly to the environment. Less washing means less water and electricity used for cleaning.
After wearing, just hang your items to let them air out and they are ready to be added back into your wardrobe rotation. If you are around smoke or had a little spill, you might need to give your sweater a little extra attention.
2. Spot Check.
If you need a little more sprucing up, we recommend dry cleaning or using the at home dry cleaning sheets (like Dryel). We don’t recommend putting any of your wool items in the washer or dryer! You’ll end up with beautiful tiny versions of your favorite knitted items for sure. Even the “delicate” cycle will render your favorite sweater unwearable.
3. Give Them a Hand.
First, make sure to read the care tag on your garment. Some sweaters have special knit techniques and designs and may stretch/shrink differently after being submerged in water. If you are unsure, using Dryel or dry cleaning is your safest bet.
Here’s how to hand wash like a pro: Fill a sink or large plastic container with as much cool water as you can. Add a few squirts of a gentle detergent like Woolite. Submerge your sweater and swish it around. Let it soak for 30 minutes, then rinse it well under cool water.
4. Get Horizontal.
Never wring or twist a sweater to get the water out after hand washing. Gently squeeze as much water as you can out of your sweater then lay it flat on a towel and roll it up like a sushi roll to soak up any excess water. Lay it flat on a clean dry towel or sweater dryer.
Please don’t hang your wet sweaters, the weight of the water will stretch out your sweater while it dries and all of your hard work will be for naught.
5. Sometimes shrinking isn’t the problem.
If you leave your knitted garments hanging all year long, the weight of the sweater or dress will stretch your garment after time. This is especially true for those that have a looser weave. It’s best to store your heavier and knitted items folded. However, if you do want to hang them, the best way to hang your sweaters is by folding them over the hanger. This will prevent stretching as well as the “bumps” you get in the shoulders of the sweater from the hanger.
6. Moth Holes are Really a Thing.
Midnight merino snack for moth larvae. Moths are very sneaky little critters, they love natural fibers and the moth larvae will chew little holes in wool, silk and sometimes cotton. You won’t typically see the moths hanging around, but you’ll know they were in your closet when you find a hole in your favorite sweater. The best way to prevent your sweaters from becoming a midnight snack, is to store them in moth proof containers (sweater bags, plastic bins) with a few cedar chips thrown in for good measure. This dress has pilling, most likely from crossed legs rubbing under a desk or table.
7. Bumpy situation.
Pilling, or the little bumps on your sweater is caused by friction, from things like seat belts, purses, and arms. Most sweaters when subjected to friction will pill, you can easily and gently remove them by holding the sweater flat and slicing the pills off one at a time with a razor. There are sweater “shavers” that use abrasive stones and convenient battery operated versions as well.
8. Snags Happen.
Inevitably you’ll have a purse or piece of furniture that pulls a snag in your sweater. Lightly stretch the garment around the snag to decrease any puckering. You can pull the extra yarn through to the inside of the garment. Please don’t cut the yarn off, you will end up with a hole.
9. Wrinkle in Time.
If your sweater has been crammed in a storage container for a season or at the bottom of the pile on a shelf, don’t plug in your iron just yet. Some fabrics, such as cashmere, are especially susceptible to heat and require special care.
Lay your sweater flat on your ironing board and lay a thin dish towel on top of your sweater, this will protect your sweater from the extra moisture. Note: Don’t use a colored towel, the dye may transfer to your sweater.
Using the steam setting on your iron, lay the iron on top of the towel without applying additional pressure and move it quickly over the sweater. Do not stop the iron or leave it in one place for long. Remove the towel and leave your sweater on the ironing board for a few minutes to let the fibers cool down.
10. End Game.
At the end of the season, clean or air out your sweaters and it’s best to fold up your sweaters and store them in breathable-bug-proof containers in the off-season. You can easily find these at home stores or Amazon.