Sweaters have a bad reputation for being difficult to maintain. Sure, they can be a little finicky, but sweater care rules are actually quite simple – once you know them. The most important thing to know is how to wash a sweater. There are also specialty products that make a big difference in extending the life of your jerseys and ensuring they look their best.
First, some basics: According to Jacqueline Sava, the founder of Soak Wash, “The biggest mistake people make is actually not washing their sweaters. As always.” Washing sweaters helps preserve and refresh fibers by removing what Sava calls “invisible dirt” — things like body oils, dead skin, dirt and dust.
You should wash the sweaters after a few uses. it is also important to wash the sweaters before storing them in the medium or long term, to keep away moths and other pests. Storing a dirty sweater can also cause stains and odors to form in the fibers. When it comes to storing sweaters, it’s best to fold them – hanging a wet sweater will cause it to stretch and distort, and hanging a dry sweater can cause hang marks (also called “stitches”).
Before sticky lint rollers were the go-to solution for removing animal hair, lint and other debris was brushed off clothes with a real brush! Clothes brushes are still around and it’s good to know about them; not only do they work great, they don’t create the waste or expense that sticky rollers do.
Sticky rollers absolutely have an important role to play when it comes to fabric care – they can be great for stashing in a bag or desk drawer to quickly clean up a fluffy or pet hair covered sweater. But sticky rollers are, well, sticky and can be a mess when not in use. Flint’s retractable lint roller solves this problem.
One problem that lint brushes and sticky rollers don’t solve is that of pilling. Pilling on sweaters occurs when friction causes the fibers to fray or break and tangle, giving the garment a worn look. The Gleener Fabric Shaver and Lint Brush is the best tool for removing lint from any type of sweater, from the thickest wool sweater to the finest and most delicate cashmere.
Battery-powered cloth razors are another great option for unbolting sweaters. To use, allow the razor to gently glide over the surface of the sweater and pick up the pills. The shaver has a collection compartment which can be emptied after use.
A special detergent for use on sweaters is not necessary at all – a small amount of regular detergent can be used for both washing a sweater in the machine or by hand – but it can be nice to have one ! This is especially true if you frequently hand wash sweaters and other delicate items. Soak Wash, a no-rinse formula, is our top pick for hand-washing detergents because of its ease of use.
Another great no-rinse detergent is Eucalan Delicate Wash. However, it does contain lanolin, which makes it an excellent detergent for washing woolens (lanolin occurs naturally in wool) but not ideal for washing other fabrics as it can attract dirt.
Specialty detergents make a great gift, as these are items we don’t usually splurge on. If you’re looking for a delicate detergent to gift to a knitter or fashionista, Le Blanc Silk & Lingerie Cleaner is a great detergent with a luxurious scent.
Woolite is an old standard, and for good reason: it’s a very good detergent and, unlike other detergents designed for sweaters, it has the advantage of being widely available and quite affordable.
Hand washing is the gold standard for sweater care, but many sweaters can be washed directly in the washing machine, saving time and effort. But additional measures, such as using a mesh wash bag, should be taken to ensure that the garment does not get damaged. The bag will reduce the amount of friction the sweater is exposed to, preventing the fibers from fraying or snagging during the wash.
Buying a set of mesh laundry bags in assorted sizes will be the right choice for most people, as they are useful for washing items other than sweaters. But if sweaters are the only thing you use laundry bags for, or if you regularly machine wash more than one sweater, grab this set of two oversized bags.
After washing, it may be helpful to wrap a sweater in a towel to expel water without wringing or twisting the garment, which can cause the fibers to stretch or break. Using a quick-drying, super-absorbent towel for work is ideal – it’s also a smart choice for use when washing hands while travelling.
Whether you wash them in the washing machine or by hand, sweaters should always be dried flat; hanging a wet sweater will cause it to stretch and deform. A flat mesh dryer is great for sweaters because it allows air to circulate evenly even when the sweater is lying flat.
Washing a load of sweaters at once is a good time management strategy, but when it comes to drying more than one sweater at a time, it can leave you with damp clothes strewn all over the place. A stackable sweater dryer solves this problem and will be the right choice for people who regularly wash more than one sweater at a time.
An over the door drying rack is a great choice for people who love sweater care but are tight on space. This mesh sweater drying rack accommodates three garments and takes advantage of what would otherwise be unused space.
Clothes racks designed specifically for sweaters are a good choice for some, but a multipurpose clothes rack will be the right choice for most people. Look for styles that provide ample room for drying flat, such as the Honey-Can-Do Butterfly Rack.
Shirts should not be hung up, but stacks of folded shirts tend to fall on their own and end up in a heap. Shelf dividers help solve this problem by creating cubbies that help hold a stack of folded sweaters in place.
When it comes to choosing sweater storage bags, consider the storage environment and look for styles that protect against dust, pests, water, light, etc. depending on storage space. This collapsible storage bag set folds up when not in use, and because they’re made of fabric, they’re more breathable than plastic bins.
Sweater storage options come in many shapes and sizes and the trick to finding the right one for you is to measure how much storage space you have before you shop. Wide, flat storage bags are a popular option, and this style features sewn-in loops into which cedar panels can be inserted.
Plastic is less breathable than fabric, which is a disadvantage when storing sweaters. However, if your storage space is prone to damp or worse, flooding! — a waterproof bin will be the smart storage choice to protect against potential water damage.
When it comes to storing very delicate or precious sweaters, it is important to take measures to protect them from light, dust, humidity, etc. Wrapping clothes in acid-free cloth will help prevent them from yellowing during storage.