Tips for washing knitwear
Most of us have some form of knitwear in our wardrobe. A knitted sweater, a pair of knitted trousers or maybe a knitted cardigan. Knitwear can be practical and stylish at the same time. Depending on the material, color and shape, you can wear knitwear in all seasons.
But knitwear is also often fragile because it is usually made from natural materials. This means you need to take good care of your knitwear. Especially when you need to wash and dry it. We will help you with how to best treat your knitwear during washing and drying.
How do you wash knitted clothes?
No matter what material(s) your knitwear is made of, there are 3 tips to keep in mind when washing it. Read more below as we elaborate on each tip.
1. Check the washing instructions
2. Wash at low temperatures
3. Use a gentle soap for example a wool specific one
1. Check the washing instructions
The washing instructions are always a good place to start. Then you can see exactly how to wash this particular item of clothing. Depending on the material, your knitwear is made of, and whether it has buttons, trims or anything else sewn on, it can affect how you should handle it.
Some knitwear can only be dry cleaned or hand washed, while others can easily be put through the washing machine. If you wash knitwear in the machine, just remember to use a gentle program. Most washing machines have a delicate wash program with low temperatures and few revolutions. You should avoid spinning your knitwear too much.
If you need to wash your homemade knitwear, you probably don't have washing instructions. If you are unsure how your knitwear will react to washing, you can start by washing a test piece. Then you don't have to take any chances with the real thing.
2. Washing at low temperatures
Most knitwear should not be washed at more than 30 degrees Celsius - max 40 degrees Celsius. No matter how you wash it. Unless harmful bacteria have gotten onto the clothes, there is no need to wash at higher temperatures.
Washing at low temperatures is good for your clothes and the environment. If you wash in cold water at less than 30 degrees, just be aware that a special detergent is needed to get your clothes properly clean.
3. Use a gentle soap
Whether your knitwear is made of cotton, wool or something else, it is recommended to use a special soap when washing knitwear. Regular detergent is not good for your knitwear because it risks damaging the natural fibers of the material. Therefore, always use a gentle soap for wool, for example.
For the same reason, you should always stay away from stain removers. It is a harsh agent that your knitwear cannot tolerate. Also, your knitwear doesn't benefit from being rubbed, as is often the case with stains. Use the gentle detergent instead.
How to wash knitwear by hand?
If you want to wash your knitwear by hand, you can follow these steps:
1. Fill a tub or basin with lukewarm water
2. Add a gentle soap for e.g. wool and gently wash the garment
3. Leave it for 5-10 minutes
4. Gently rinse off the soap in clean, lukewarm water
5. Squeeze and push out the water - do not twist!
Knitwear should be washed as little as possible, but if washing is unavoidable, it is safest to do it by hand - especially if you are unsure whether it can withstand a machine wash.
To reduce the need for washing, you can use an extra layer under your knitwear. For example, if you have a knitted blouse, you can wear a t-shirt underneath. That way you can use the knit for longer.
Specifically for washing wool knitwear
Wool is one of the natural materials that should not be washed too much. In fact, wool is often said to be self-cleaning because it contains the natural fat lanolin, which reduces odour and acts as an antibacterial agent. Therefore, if you have some wool knitwear, you can often just air it outside for a few hours.
Specifically for washing acrylics
Acrylic can stretch, so with this particular material it's extra important that you follow the washing instructions to make sure it stays in shape.
The synthetic plastic fibers that make up acrylic are very sensitive to heat, so you should always avoid tumble dryers, irons, radiators and the like.
How do you dry a knitted sweater?
The first (and most important rule) is: skip the dryer. Try this approach instead:
1. Gently squeeze the water out of the knitwear
2. Place the knitwear on a towel
3. Roll up the towel (with the knitwear)
4. Put pressure on the towel by stepping on it if necessary
5. Unroll the knitwear and place it on a dry towel to finish drying
Just like when you wash your knitwear, it is important that you are careful when drying it. Therefore, the method above is recommended. You can also pull the knit slightly when you lay it out to dry so that it keeps its original shape. And if you want to be on the safe side, you can use a tape measure to find the right shape when the knit is drying.
You might be tempted to hang your knitted blouse on a hanger to dry, but that's not a good idea. When the knit is wet, it is also heavy, so you run the risk of the hanger making bulges and changing the shape, for example at the shoulders. Therefore, always make sure to lay the knit flat when drying it.
If your knitwear is shrunken
Many of us fear that our knitwear shrinks when we wash it. Maybe it didn't stand up to the washing machine, maybe the temperature was too high, or maybe it was put in the dryer. Luckily, you don't have to throw out your knitwear if you have an accident. There is a trick you can try when your knitwear has suddenly changed size.
1. Fill a tub or bucket with lukewarm water and add a few tablespoons of baby shampoo or hair conditioner
2. Make sure to work the shampoo or conditioner into the knitwear and leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes
3. Take the knitwear out of the water and squeeze out excess water - without twisting
4. Place the knitted garment on a dry towel and gently pull the fabric to get the right shape and size
5. Leave the clothes to dry - preferably on top of a drying rack to allow air to get underneath
6. If needed, you can repeat the process when the knit is dry
While there's a chance you can get your knitwear back if it's shrunk, there's no need to take chances when washing it. Always remember to look after it and treat it with care when washing.