How To Hand Wash Sweaters
Posted by James F. Brown on Apr 5, 2009 - 8:40:23 PM
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Machine washing delicates such as sweaters made of cashmere, merino and other types of wool is a major no-no.
DON’T EVER ATTEMPT IT! You’ll ruin them irreparably. Sweaters — especially cashmere — are expensive and deserve good care.
Although woolens can be dry cleaned, this should be done sparingly. The reason? Excessive dry cleaning can, over time, remove the oils in wool fibers that give it body and elasticity.
The best way to clean sweaters and other woolens is to hand wash them. Yes, it’s not as convenient as sending them to the cleaners, but you’ll extend their useful lifespan and keep them in tiptop condition. Here’s how to do it.
Fill a sink or container with three to four gallons of cold or lukewarm water. Add a tiny amount of detergent, no more than a thimble full. Almost any cold water detergent can be used, but WOOLITE® For All Delicates is specifically designed for hand washing garments. It’s what I use and recommend. Immerse your sweaters and let them soak for ten minutes. Then, gently squeeze and release them repeatedly for a couple of minutes.
Lift each sweater out of the water separately as a ball. Don’t let the heavy, waterlogged sweater sag or stretch. Using both hands, squeeze the balled up sweater to remove most of the wash water. DO NOT WRING OR TWIST THE SWEATER! Doing so will damage it and stretch it out of shape.
Now, put the sweater into cold rinse water and squeeze and release it for a minute or two. Ball up the sweater, lift it out of the water, and squeeze out excess water. Repeat with fresh water to ensure that all detergent is removed. Lift the sweater out of the water and again squeeze out excess water.
Next, lay the sweater on top of a thick bath towel and roll the towel up with the sweater inside. Squeeze the rolled up towel along its length with your hands so the towel will absorb water from the sweater. Smooth out the roll and leave it for half an hour to continue absorption.
Unroll the towel and remove the sweater. Lay it flat on a sweater drying rack. You may need to fold the sleeves over to keep them on the rack. Sweater drying racks are stackable plastic frames covered with mesh. They’re available at many places (Target, Wal-Mart, Bed & Bath) and cost about $10. Let the sweater air dry on the rack for a day. DO NOT USE A DRYER, EVEN ON THE “
AIR FLUFF” SETTING!
Once the sweater is dry, you may need to smooth out any wrinkles. Hang it on a wide-shouldered suit hanger and steam it using a clothes steamer or a steam iron. Don’t let the iron touch the sweater. NEVER
TRY TO IRON A SWEATER!
After the sweater’s wrinkles have been smoothed, fold it and store it flat in a drawer or on a shelf. NEVER STORE A SWEATER ON A HANGER! Doing so will cause it to sag and stretch out of shape.