Published on august 14, 2019

It’s Finally Sweater Weather: Here’s How to Wash Sweaters to Make Them Last

written by Team thredUP

Keeping items in use instead of buying new can reduce our footprint, that’s why taking better care of the clothes we have is SO important. Learn how to love your clothes with our Clothing Care Series! We’re one foot into fall, so today we’ll be talking shop about the best way to care for your sweaters and knits. 

Sweater weather is fast approaching, which means it’s time to take your favorite cooler weather pieces out from hiding. Sweaters come in all styles and materials, so it’s hard to keep track of how you should wash and store everything. Some sweaters can be more finicky than others, which means without proper care, they won’t last very long. Taking better care of your sweaters means less waste in the world and less money spent on new clothes! Read these tips to see how you can up your sweater game this season.

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Sweater Weather Basics

The key to keeping your sweaters intact is proper care, which means maintaining them regularly. Doing small things like removing hair and lint regularly can make a difference in the lifespan of your sweater!

Turn Snags Inside Out

Snags happen. Look over your sweater every couple of wears and see if there are snags. If there are, turn your sweater inside out and use a crochet hook to pull the snag through the other side. This way you can prevent further holes from forming.

Fold Your Sweaters Properly

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Hanging sweaters actually stretches them out in the shoulders, so fold them instead! To correctly fold or pack them away, lay your sweater flat on the table with the front of it facing down. Then, fold each arm to the center of the sweater. Fold half of the sweater in, followed by the other half. Starting from the bottom, fold up either once or twice depending on the length of the sweater. Flip over and you should be good to go!

If you want to roll your sweater to take up less space (Kondo style!), lay the sweater front side down. Fold the arms into the center and roll from the bottom up! To protect pesky moths and prevent mildew, you can even store your sweaters in a storage bag.

For people who don’t have a dresser and can have room in their closet to hang their items, fold sweaters in half first and hang over the bar of a hanger.

Washing Different Kinds of Sweaters

From cashmere to wool blends, sweaters come in a variety of materials, which means they need to be washed in different ways depending on the fabric. However, as a general rule of thumb, wash your sweaters sparingly. That means, about every four wears or if they start to smell from activities like cooking in the kitchen or being around smoke. When you do wash sweaters make sure that you hand wash them and that you don’t use heat. Warm temperatures can damage fibers in the sweaters and cause them to shrink, while hand washing allows you to have more control over your garment and it also uses less energy! It’s a win-win.

Cashmere Sweaters

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Soft, lightweight, and meant to be a lifetime investment, cashmere sweaters are a must-have for everyone’s closet. The quality of a cashmere sweater is unbeatable, not to mention, timeless!

How to Care for Cashmere Sweaters

Before washing your cashmere sweater, make sure you remove pills. You can do this by laying a sweater flat on a surface and gently brushing a razor across it. You should also turn the sweater inside out and spot treat deodorant stains if you can. Try to brush off excess deodorant with a brush. If that doesn’t work, rinse the stained areas in white vinegar.

How to Wash Cashmere Sweaters

To wash cashmere and make it last longer, gently submerge the sweater in lukewarm water that has a few drops of cashmere-friendly detergent in it. Swish the sweater around and soak for 30 minutes. Finish by rinsing with lukewarm water.

Cotton Sweaters

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Cotton sweaters are definitely more common and easier to take care of than cashmere sweaters. They are used on more casual occasions, whereas cashmere sweaters may be deemed dressier. The material is thinner, so they are a cooler, more breathable option that is perfect for fall or spring.

How to Wash Cotton Sweaters

You’re able to wash cotton sweaters more frequently than other sweaters, but that doesn’t mean you should be machine washing them! Washing with a machine can ruin the fibers and uses energy when it isn’t necessary. To hand wash, fill a tub with water and dunk your sweater in with a few drops of liquid detergent. Swish around and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse the sweater out and lay flat on a rack to dry.

If you really do need to machine wash a cotton sweater, make sure you check the label for proper care. Use cool water and put the machine on the gentle cycle. If your sweater gets any wrinkles you can use an iron to flatten them out!

Wool Sweaters

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These sweaters are pretty delicate and can easily shrink if not properly cared for. Wool sweaters don’t have to be washed super often, as long as you thoroughly air them out in between wears.

How to Wash Wool Sweaters

To wash wool sweaters, turn them inside out and put them in cool water with wool detergent. Rather than the standard 30 minutes, soak wool sweaters for 10 minutes and rinse. Again, avoid heat when washing or drying. If there are wrinkles in the sweater don’t iron them out. Steaming is the best option for wool sweaters.

Drying Sweaters

For all of the sweaters mentioned, it’s important to not machine dry them! Even though it can be satisfying, don’t wring out your sweaters either. Start by patting the sweater dry and laying it out on a towel. Roll the sweater in the towel from the bottom up to get out excess moisture. Place the sweater on a drying rack, but make sure that you lay it flat without pieces hanging off so it doesn’t stretch out!

Have any other helpful tips for sweater weather? Comment your faves below!