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Wash Knitwear Like A Pro

July 13, 2023

Knitwear is a year-round staple in our book, but naturally, as the temperature drops we find ourselves reaching for our favourite knitwear on a daily basis. Higher rotation puts our knits through their paces, increasing the frequency of laundering. So, to help preserve your knitwear for maximum longevity and enjoyment, follow our advice below.

How to best care for knitwear is largely influenced by the type of yarn (cashmere, cotton, silk, wool etc) and also the gauge (how lofty, chunky or tightly knitted) of the item in question. Mishandling can result in stretched or shrunken knits...devastating! From chunky jumpers to delicate cardigans, it is imperative that we properly take care of our knitwear favourites to ensure they can be worn for seasons to come.

Not all knitwear is created equal, and so the washing instructions are likely to be very different for each style. For example: knitwear made from wool or any other animal-hair fibre should not be washed at any higher than 30 degrees celsius, whereas a cotton knit can often withstand a higher temperature. Before washing your favourite knit, it is essential to ensure you're aware of the fibre used to construct the garment and read and follow the specific care instructions on the label. Pay attention to temperature, recommended detergents, and drying instructions.

Hand Washing Knitwear

Hand washing is always your safest bet when it comes to delicate knitwear garments. Fill a basin with tepid water and add a small amount of detergent, ideally a chemical free wash specifically for knits. Gently submerge your knitwear, and agitate the water gently with your hands for a few minutes, then rinse gently but thoroughly with cool water. Avoid wringing or twisting your knitwear as it can cause long-term stretching or damage to the fibres; instead gently squeeze the item until all excess water is removed and then lay the item flat on a towel, in it’s shape, to dry.

Machine Washing Knitwear

If you prefer machine washing your knitwear (and the care label suggests it is safe to do so), we recommend turning them inside out and placing them in a mesh laundry bag on a delicate cycle, setting the water temperature according to the care label instructions.

Whether you choose to machine or hand wash your knitwear it is important to use a gentle detergent. When it comes to washing knitwear, less is more. Choose a gentle detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics, so as not to damage the fibres or cause shrinkage. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleaches, as they can also harm your knitwear pieces. Wool and cashmere detergents are specially formulated to be gentle and help maintain the softness and shape of knitwear - we love Ecover Wool & Silk Delicate Detergent and The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.

Drying Knitwear

The best (and in our opinion only) way to dry knitwear is to lay it flat on a clean, dry towel or a dedicated drying rack. Never hang knitwear pieces, as it will cause stretching and misshaping with the weight of the retained water after washing. Reshape your garments as they dry and smooth out any wrinkles. You should also avoid direct sunlight and heat sources when drying, as it can damage the fibres and cause fading.

After your knit is washed and dried, restore its loftiness with a light iron using a bit of steam. For anything rather delicate it’s advisable to use a clean light-coloured cloth between the iron and knitwear. If you have a steamer you can use this instead but be careful not to over-steam or over-dampen your knitwear in the process.

Storing Knitwear

Whether it's a knitted dress or an oversized jumper, the first rule is to avoid hanging knitted garments - otherwise you are asking for stretching and misshapen shoulders. Always fold your knitwear, with or without tissue paper, and stack them gently into your closet or drawer. Another tip is to keep your knitwear stored in a cool, dry place, and pop into soft breathable bags, like cotton or linen, when the weather begins to change and we stop reaching for our sweaters.

Lastly, we’re all familiar with the tendency of some knits to pill. Usually a sign of shorter fibres that tend to ball with friction, pilling tends to settle down after several wears and is nothing to fear. Gently using (never overusing!) a knitwear comb or depilling machine will help restore your garment.

Knitwear is a staple in any winter (and trans-seasonal) wardrobe, but it requires proper care to keep it looking its best. By reading and following the care label, using a gentle detergent, hand washing or machine washing with care, and drying flat, you can ensure your knitwear stays looking new and feeling soft.

Follow our pro tips on how to care for your knitwear, and you'll have cozy and stylish garments to keep you warm all season long.

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