How to Hand Wash a Sweater

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Hand Wash a Sweater
Hand Wash a Sweater (Image: sxc.hu/vierdrie)

Hand-washing is usually recommended on sweater clothing-care labels. With a gentle detergent and a few cups of cold water, you can hand-wash your sweater and keep it from shrinking and stretching. Apply these steps to hand-wash your sweater and extend the life of the garment.

Things You'll Need

  • Large basin
  • Large white towels
  • Flat surface to dry the sweater
  • Mild detergent
  • Cold water

Make a mixture of cool water and mild detergent. Don’t fill the basin to the top with water. Place just enough water into the bowl to mix with the detergent. For a medium to large sweater, a tablespoon of detergent is sufficient. A small sweater will only require half of the amount of detergent required to clean a large-sized sweater.

Swish the sweater in cool, sudsy water. Swirl the sweater in the soapy water until the garment is completely wet. After 3 minutes of swirling and soaking, remove the sweater from the mixture.

Rinse the sweater in cold water. Empty the basin filled with the soap and water mixture. Fill the tub again with cold water. Immerse the sweater under the cold water until it is completely soaked. Rinse the sweater until the water is free from soap.

Remove water from the sweater. Hold the sweater by its shoulders to allow the water to drain from the sweater into the basin. Do not wring the sweater to remove the water. Roll the sweater in a towel to remove any residual water. If the sweater is still wet, repeat this step until the sweater is dry. Press out any remaining water before you move on to Step 5.

Lay the sweater flat on another towel to dry. Wet wool can stretch, so take care to arrange the sweater with the arms away from the body to retain its natural shape. Drying time can range from 12 to 72 hours, depending on the thickness of the sweater and its weight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once the sweater is completely dry, fold it carefully to maintain its shape and appearance.
  • Instead of white towels to dry the sweater, use color-fast towels that will not bleed onto your sweater.
  • Never hang a sweater to dry, as it will cause the sweater to stretch and lose its shape.
  • Hand-wash woolens and cashmere with care. Frequent washing can cause the fabric to stretch and weaken.

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