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Q. Knitwear care! How to wash your knitwear at home while preventing shrinkage and ensuring longevity

Knitwear care! How to wash your knitwear at home while preventing shrinkage and ensuring longevity  

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Although it can prove difficult to overcome the frigid chill of winter, humans have developed a few ways to combat the cold embrace of Old Man Winter; including, but not limited to hot cocoa, curling up by a fireplace, and wearing knitted sweaters. Knitwear is at the forefront of our mind and wardrobes during winter, but frequently wearing it causes it to lose its shape. Sending it to the dry cleaners is one option, but have you ever considered washing it at home? This is the expert’s guide to taking good care of your knitwear. 

Being prepared is half the battle! How to read care labels to clean your knitwear effectively 

The process of washing your knitwear starts from checking the care label.  
These are some care label examples from UNIQLO. 
●Extra fine merino V-neck sweater is labeled “machine washable” 
●Premium Lambswool high-neck tunic requires “hand wash” 
●Cashmere crew neck sweater requires “dry cleaning” 

When a care label tells you it’s machine washable, you’re also allowed to hand wash it. However, if the knitwear must be dry cleaned, it’s best to follow those instructions and avoid trying to wash it yourself at home. You can tidy it up a bit by cleaning off any dust and making sure it’s not misshapen, but you shouldn’t throw it in the wash with your other clothes. 

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Take care of your “machine washable” knitwear at home. 

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Washing by hand helps to maintain its original knitted texture. 

Things to keep in mind when machine washing or hand washing 

This section will outline the proper methods on how to machine wash and hand wash your knitwear. In general, you should use special detergent for knitwear to minimize damage as much as possible.  

<Machine wash> 
1. Preparing your knitwear to be washed 
Before you place the garment inside a laundry bag, locate any areas that are heavily soiled and ensure that they are exposed and that those areas are not covered or rolled up. In particular, the collar, sleeves and hems tend to be areas which require washing.  
2. Place it in an appropriately sized laundry bag 
Put it in a mesh laundry bag. It’s best if the bag size is big enough to fit the knitwear as explained in step 1. 
3. Put it in the washing machine 
Use a gentle cycle or hand wash cycle, anything that’s easy on the fabric (depends on your machine). You can use softener too if you’d like, and make sure to set the drying time to minimal.  

<Hand wash> 
1. Prepare a washtub, detergent and some water 
Pour water (or warm water) into the washtub and mix it with some detergent.  
2. Fold the knit and press to wash 
Wash the folded garment by gently pressing it with your hands. Treat stains on the collar and sleeve openings by massaging them in water.  
3. Rinsing 
Replace the water in the washtub and carefully rinse the garment. 
4. Drying 
When you’re done with rinsing, press and squeeze out as much water as you can from the garment. Wrap the garment in a towel and gently squeeze it to get more water out. If you want, you can use a washing machine’s drying cycle to help, just make sure that the knitwear is dried in the machine for less than 30 seconds. 

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Thoroughly massage areas where there are stains.

Tips on hang drying and ironing to maintain the shape of the knitwear 

After the rinsing is done, gently pat it to restore its shape. As a rule of thumb, always lay the garment flat and out of direct sunlight to prevent it from shrinking.  

Although it’s best to avoid hang drying, sometimes it might be your only option. If that’s the case, try to use contoured hangers so the weight is more evenly distributed to help prevent the sweater from becoming misshapen. 

In case your knitwear has unfortunately lost its shape, place a cloth between the garment and steam iron while holding the iron slightly above the surface to restore its shape. 

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Using steam is a secret technique that helps to restore its shape! 

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Store it neatly after restoring it to its natural shape. 

Knit garments are timeless additions to your wardrobe that can be worn every year, so it’s important to learn how to properly wash them. Take the time and effort to take care of your knitwear to make it last multiple years.  



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