It’s been sweater weather the moment the temperatures dropped. Sweaters are one of the most used clothing items during the cold season. Not surprising, right? They are cozy, comfy, and super cute too! Big bonus if they’re buttery soft and not scratchy on the skin. Most sweaters are made with cotton, wool, synthetic fibers, or cashmere. Some of these materials can be fragile and require extra attention. Hence why they require extra care to ensure they last a long time and maintain their look. A good quality sweater is not the cheapest and it is so important to make them last as long as possible. If a sweater is not well taken care of you will run the risk of shrinking, pilling, cheapening the quality (i.e. softness, strength, etc), and overall degrading the appearance.
How To Take Care Of Sweaters
In this post, I’ll go over my tips for how to take care of sweaters especially with different materials, the best way to wash them, and products I recommend that are safe to use on sweaters.
Read The Label – How To Wash A Sweater
First and foremost, always read the care label that is attached inside the sweater to find out how to wash a sweater. It gives instructions on the best way to wash and clean your sweater. You’d be surprised how different every sweater is. Some may need to be dry cleaned, hand washed, or machine washed but on gentle cycle setting. Especially if you own or wear a cashmere sweater or a handwoven sweater, they may require dry clean only or very gentle hand washing. My advice is prior to purchasing a nice sweater, think about what is convenient and high priority to you when it comes to washing. For instance, if you prefer not to go to a dry cleaner, then make sure you read the care label before purchasing to avoid all the hassle.
Pretreat Before Washing
To preserve the quality of your sweater, you don’t want to wash them after every use. They typically can get a lot of wear in them before they require washing especially for hand washed sweaters or machine washed sweaters. In between uses, I like to use the Wool & Cashmere Spray, Fabric Fresh Spray, or Delicate Spray (depending on the fabric) to keep my sweaters fresh and remove any odor or body oils.
Since it is natural for stains, odors, and oils to accumulate in the sweater, you have to make sure you pretreat (remove the stains) prior to washing. I use the Stain Solution for dye-based stains or I use the Wash & Stain Bar for oil-based stains. You want to minimize scrunching or wringing the sweater as much as possible to prevent further damage. Therefore, I recommend using the Stain Brush when lathering the sweater to remove the stains. Main spots to pretreat are the underarms, collar, and cuffs since they are the areas most susceptible to stains.
Hand Washed Sweater
First step if your sweater requires hand washing, you must pretreat. Once you have pretreated your sweater, you want to fill a sink or large basin with cool water. Then add your detergent. I love The Laundress’ detergents because they are powerful yet gentle without needing to use a liquid fabric softener. They are made for sweaters like the Wool and Cashmere Shampoo. A little goes a long way and helps preserve your sweater for a long time!
You want to submerge your sweater into the cold water and gently massage the sweater to remove any buildup or oils. You only need to soak the sweater in the cold water for 30 minutes max. If you go beyond 30 minutes, it might stretch it out.
After 30 minutes, drain the sink or basin and place the sweater under running cool water. Gently press the water out of the garment. Remember, no wringing or twisting! Keep repeating until it no longer feels soapy.
Machine Wash Sweater
Some sweaters say you can machine wash them. Machine washing is the best because less manual labor haha. Again, you can probably have multiple wears with your sweater before you need to wash them. Just make sure before you place your sweater in the washing machine that you pretreat it.
After pretreating, the rule of thumb is to set your machine wash to gentle cycle or delicate cycle and use cold water. This is to prevent damaging the garment. I personally like to put the sweater in a mesh bag to avoid agitation or pilling. Make sure the spin is also set on low.
Lay Flat To Dry
Never ever place your sweater in the dryer. This can cause further damage, additional pilling, or shrinking. Don’t hang dry the sweater on a hanger either. This can misshape it which is why it is recommended to lay it flat to dry. First, you will have to gently press out the excess water. Then, you will lay out the sweater flat to dry and just let it air dry.
Do not place under direct sunlight or any heat exposure especially for wool sweaters. This can cause them to shrink or become damaged.
De-Pilling The Sweater
Through time, a sweater will be pilling. Pilling is when the fabric has short and broken fibers that become tangled together in a tiny knot or ball. It is not a good look for the sweater. Luckily, there is an easy fix!
Use a Sweater Comb or Sweater Stone. I highly recommend using this sweater comb from Laundress. The sweater comb removes pills from delicate knits and fine-gauge wool. For heavier knits, the sweater stone is perfect for de-pilling the sweater (It’s also great for throw blankets and scarves!). It gently picks up the pills while leaving the renewed yarn.
Use a fabric shaver to remove pills or shave the pills off of the sweater. It has the capability to remove lint and de-fuzz it as well.
All these products will successfully remove the sweater pills without causing any damage and continue to keep your sweater looking fresh.
Storing Your Sweater
How you store your sweaters is also important to ensure they last a long time.
Do Not Hang. That is my number one rule. The hanger will create peaks in the shoulder. So the only way to avoid peaks in the shoulders to fold your sweaters.
Fold The Sweater. Folding your sweater is the best way to store them. I follow a 3-fold technique by folding one arm in and then the other arm in, and the last step is to fold the sweater in half so that the top half meets the bottom.
Cedar Chest. The best type of drawers for your sweaters are the cedar chest. Cedar is known to be a natural moth repellant. If you don’t have a cedar chest, you can use a satchel of cedar chips or cedar drawer liners. Just place it inside the drawer or your shelves.
Sweater Care Product Recommendations
Below are products I highly recommend to use. Almost everything I use is from The Laundress. You can also find this brand at Nordstrom, Shopbop, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-A-Porter, Bloomingdale’s, The Container Store, and Verishop.
Hope this all helps with maintaining the quality of your sweaters.
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