It’s sweater season! It’s important to make sure all of your natural fiber sweaters, like wool and cashmere, are clean and ready to wear. DIY sweater care is not only good for the environment (no harsh chemicals), but it is also economical (good-bye dry cleaning bills). Here’s how to DIY dry clean your sweaters at home!
Fill a sink or clean laundry basin with cool to lukewarm water and a gentle soap, I use baby shampoo, but wool and cashmere shampoo is also available. Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle. In the soapy water, lightly swish your sweater around, then let it soak about 30 minutes.
Don’t use hot water. This can cause your wool to felt and shrink, destroying your sweater.
Hand-wash all of your sweaters, not just those made of natural fibers. The agitation of your washing machine can snag any kind of knit sweater, causing them to tear, unknit or deform.
Rinse and “Spin”
To rinse your sweater, empty and refill the laundry basin with fresh, cool water then soak the sweater for a few moments. Repeat, with clean water, until the rinse water runs clear. Then, over the sink, gently squeeze-don’t wring- the water out. Be sure to support your heavy, wet sweater as you lift it- the wet fibers can be prone to stretching.
On a clean towel, lay the damp sweater flat. Then roll the sweater and towel together, pressing as you go to remove excess water and then unroll. You may need to repeat this step, with a clean towel, if your sweater is still very damp. It usually takes me two, or even three, times to remove all of the excess water.
On a dry, clean towel leave your damp sweater to dry, periodically turning it over. You could buy a mesh rack to help speed up the process and eliminate the need to flip the sweater. Before the sweater is completely dry, make sure it is the same shape it is supposed to be, this is the point to reform the sweater if it has become reshaped during the cleaning process.
Once your sweater is dry, it is time to remove the pills that have formed on the sweater. Pilling that occurs on your sweater is from wearing, not washing. With your sweater laying on a flat surface, gently run a sweater comb or a sweater stone over it. Be careful with angora, mohair or any yarn that has a halo- in these cases, gently cut the pills by hand.
Always store your sweaters clean, as moths are attracted to soiled fibers. Never store your sweaters in plastic. Only use natural fiber storage containers that can breathe, like cotton or canvas bags. Don’t hang your sweaters for storage. Storing your sweaters on hangers can cause them to stretch and deform over time. For extra protection, store your sweaters with cedar liners or planks, lavender sachets or within a cedar trunk. I store my sweaters in a cedar trunk with lavender sachets, year-round.
So, invest in that 100% wool sweater, it is worth it! Plus, keeping your sweaters looking new doesn’t need to take lots of money or time! Just treat each sweater with love and care, and you will have many warm, and cozy, years in your favorite (kind of expensive) sweater.
Your turn! If you have any advice or tips for natural sweater care, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you’ve got!