How To Wash Sweaters the Right Way

Leah Bourne
London Fashionweek ss2014, outside Paul Smith

Photo Via Adam Katz Sinding/Le 21ème

You might not love the thought of the weather turning colder, but there’s at least one good thing to come out of fall—sweater weather! From turtlenecks to oversized crewnecks, chunky knits are having a major fashion moment this season. But—before you pull them out of storage—you should know that you’ve probably been going about washing your sweaters all wrong.

San Francisco-based knitwear designer Margaret O’Leary knows a thing or two about washing these cold-weather staples—when it comes to cashmere, angora, and wool, she’s basically the guru. O’Leary’s advice? You best be hand-washing your sweaters, ladies.

Here, her six steps to hand-washing sweaters the right way, including one tip that basically blew our mind (and it has to do with the dryer!)

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Step 1: Start by turning your sweater inside out.

This step is crucial, as it will cut down on friction when you are washing your sweater, and prevent your sweater from pilling.

Step 2: Fill your sink with soap and water. 

After cleaning your sink, add cold water and just a dime-size amount of soap (seriously, too much soap, and you’ll be in trouble later). O’Leary recommends EO lavender-scented shampoo ($8.99; available at EO Products).

Step 3: Let it soak. 

Leave your sweater to soak for between five to ten minutes, giving it a light rub ever few minutes.

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Step 4: Rinse out the soap from your sweater. 

After letting your sweater soak for a bit, empty the sink and add in fresh cold water, rinsing your sweater to make sure to get rid of all of that soap. Your sweater is probably going to be quite heavy with water, so don’t be afraid to get in there and push it against the walls of the sink to get rid of the excess (just don’t wring it too aggressively, which can damage your sweater).

how to wash sweaters

Photo: Imaxtree

Step 5: Put your sweater in the dryer. 

Making sure your sweater is still inside out, you can now put it in the dryer on a low spin and low heat cycle (so your sweater doesn’t shrink). Don’t leave your sweater in for a full cycle, and keep checking on it—you want to remove some of that excess water, but you don’t want your sweater to be completely dry by the time you take it out.

Step 7: Lay it flat to dry. 

This last step is crucial—don’t hang it to dry—place a towel on the floor, and then lay your sweater flat. If you are in a big rush for your sweater to dry you can even blow-dry your sweater on cool for a few minutes, and then cool iron it to remove wrinkles!

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