Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reader Question for the Community: Sweater Care


A reader question:
I have many lovely wool sweaters that I have had for quite a few years (some are even decades old). I do try to preserve the quality of these sweaters, but I have yet to find a method of cleansing that I find satisfactory. 
I have tried dry-cleaning, but knowing caustic chemicals are used bothers me. Perhaps I must look into finding a "green" dry cleaner?
I have also tried hand washing and air drying, but this method has resulted in a few shrinking mishaps.
What recommendations do you have to clean and preserve the life of wool and/or cashmere sweaters? 
Many Thanks.

23 comments:

  1. I hand wash in the sink using Wool Lite and then lay them out on the bed next to a sweater that fits well. I pull them to make sure the fibers are stretched just beyond the correct size. I haven't had any problems, but I still get nervous every time I wash one of my favorites, which is actually not all that often. Maybe I've been doing it incorrectly though. GLH

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  2. Turn them inside out, spray with a mixture of half water, half vodka, avoid soaking and repeat if any odors remain. For spots or stains, some baking soda left overnight then wiped off or rinsed really does work wonders.

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  3. I've always washed mine with Woolite on gentle in my machine, then laid them flat to dry. I've never had any shrinkage or mishaps. Newer washing machines are manufactured without agitators which is kinder to your clothing.

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  4. Mine seem fine when washed inside out in cold water with a gentle soap. Then, lay flat on a drying rack. Gently reshape while still wet.

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  5. I just bite the bullet and dry clean all of my sweaters once a year. Caustic or not, they come out looking like new, and i'll spot clean, if need be, thereafter. There's something I enjoy about starting fresh each year. Curious to hear what alternative tips other readers may have.

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  6. Oh yeah, Woolite in cold water, stretch and lay flat, right right -- but that guncheck upholstery! Please, is it 100% cotton and/or wool, or a blend of either or with a synthetic for shape retention? Fabulous.

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  7. My friends from Ravelry use eucalan. Supposedly, it has lanolin in the formula. I had a small bottle and it did smell nice. Dry Cleaning is a definite no no given the knowledge that we now have.

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  8. I enjoy working with textiles and get great satisfaction from hand washing sweaters which I've been doing without incidence my entire adult life. In fact, I have never dry cleaned a sweater including fine cashmere. (I can't fathom using dry cleaning chemicals on a washable item.) I use either Woolite or The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo and tepid water. Although some recommend turning the sweater inside out, I never do. I use fabric softener in the rinse and spin on low in the washing machine. I block the sweater and lay it on a drying rack to dry. I finish the process by ironing the sweater. This allows for stretching the sweater back to its original shape, if necessary. (I agree, the upholstery above is outstanding!)

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  9. Airing does it for me. Wool has enormous self-cleaning powers.

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  10. The delicates/wool cycle of the washing machine with a small amount of non-bio washing liquid. Reshape whilst damp and dry flat. Never had any mishaps.

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  11. I tend to do a combination of the things listed here. The more delicate items I take to my local organic dry cleaner. They do a wonderful job. The rest, hand wash with woolite and dry flat.

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  12. Hand wash with Woolite or other type of cleaner...some mentioned in other comments. Lay flat to dry and cautiously iron if need be, perhaps with a cloth in between. Airing works well too instead of washing, but if I do wash, only because it's really necessary and don't do it often.

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  13. Hand-wash with Woolite. Lay flat on clean bath towel. Block to shape. Roll up the towel. Let sit for about 15-30 minutes so that towel absorbs much of the water. Unroll. Lay sweater flat on bed or drying rack until fully dry.

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  14. I also use Woolite, as well as all the combinations above.

    Remember the time my teenage son (bless his heart) thought he was doing me a favor and did laundry. My 'favorite' wool sweater was set aside from the rest of the clothes, but he managed to toss in it the hot water cycle anyway. To add insult to injury, he then put this lovely sweater in the dryer. It went from a size 10, to a size 0. Afterwards, am sure I was diplomatic in instructing him how to care for wool clothing in the future.

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  15. Wouldn't underarm garment liners help some, in the long run?

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  16. If the sweaters don't really need laundering (i.e. no stains or very small stains) and you're just wanting to freshen them up a bit, I'd recommend Dryel. It gives many of the same benefits of dry cleaning, but without soaking your nice wool sweaters in a bunch of chemicals. If they do need laundering, I agree with the folks that have suggested using Woolite.

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  17. I put my sweaters in a sweater bag and wash on the gentle cycle. I then lay them flat to dry. I always wear a Cuddldud top under my sweaters so that they need washing less often.

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  18. Wash cold with a bit of old fashioned bar soap, the kind that is meant ofr clothes or the hard white blocks they used to put i school bathrooms. Don't pull or stretch them too much. Rinse wel and lay out on a flat towel to dry after stretching to just a bit bigger than they are supposed to be. Be careful withthe sleeves and neck. Don't put vodka on them on purpose, and don't wash the vodka out if you don't have to. G and T, is a bit different.

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  19. I've read that two things tend to make knit wool shrink: change of the water temp and agitation. Be sure that you wash & rinse in the same temp, and agitate it the least amount possible. Basically, just soak it and squeeze it a few times to help the soap get through. I haven't tried it, but I've read that Eucalan and Soak are both excellent for wool and don't have to be rinsed out.

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  20. I wash mine, inside out, in a sweater bag and also use the Laundress' Wool and Cashmere detergent. You'd think that, with all that babying, I'd never consider popping them in a dryer. I do! On high for about 9 minutes. Then I block them and they turn out perfectly perfect. Fluffy, no wrinkles and no sign of being stretched out or shrunk. I know. But it works.

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  21. I use Eucalon in the front loader. Delicates, cold/cold, no wash but rinse/spin cycle (Eucalon goes in the fabric softener dispenser). Block to dry after a quick 10 minutes in the dryer. I rarely have to wash sweaters, usually an airing-out is sufficient.

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  22. Forever New - a little goes a long, long way. Biodegradable/a mixture of washing sodas. Sweaters (wool/cashmere/alpaca/ natural fibers) love it, I love my sweaters, therefore. In addition, sometimes I use Eucalon/other lanolin infused products as a finishing "soak" if a sweater needs TLC/restoration. The lanolin smooths the yarn and adds to softness. Especially good for vintage sweaters. Follow directions, can't go wrong. Comes out like new. My local store stopped carrying Forever New, it costs and not everyone wants to spend that kind of money on a laundry product (you need only about a teaspoon). Now I buy online. I think good sweaters are worth it for the years of warmth, pleasure and wear they provide. And, yes I am loathe to throw out my ancient standbys because they don't make them as they used to.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the "Forever New" tip. I will have to look for it. Some say that using a mild shampoo and hair conditioner does the trick too, but I haven't tried it.

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