Once I shrunk a favorite sweater in the washer, and I’ve been careful to hand wash sweaters ever since.
It takes less time than driving to the dry cleaners. Here’s how:
Time required: 10 active minutes, 10 soaking minutes, and a day or two to dry flat
- cool water
- dish soap
- white vinegar
- 2 white or neutral bath towels (so the color won’t bleed onto the sweater)
Step 1: de-pill (pilling is the little balls that gather on sweaters). I’ve always used an electric sweater shaver like this one, but I recently learned about the d-fuzz-it comb, which looks faster and simpler. If using the electric version, be careful not to catch snags, which can cause a hole. Use the snag fixing tool to pull a snag through to the underside, so it doesn’t show or make a hole.
Step 2: measure the sweater so you’ll know how big to shape it when you lay it out to dry
Step 3: fill a sink or basin with cool water and add a few drops of liquid dish soap and ¾ cup white vinegar (to neutralize body odors)
Step 4: gently swish the sweater around in the water and soak 10 minutes
Step 5: rinse in a basin of cool water, again, swishing gently. Squeeze out what water you can, being careful not to wring it (which can twist it out of shape)
Step 6: fold a towel in half and lay out the sweater on it. Roll and squeeze as you go.
Step 7: transfer it to a dry towel and block it (which means to lay it out in the dimensions you originally measured). Leave flat to dry. If you have a mesh sweater net, it will be able to breathe on both sides and potentially dry faster. Without a net, I just leave it on the towel. Tip: change (or dry) the towel after the first night to speed it up a bit.
Hooray for fresh smelling sweaters![Picture credit: Terri Oda]