Care & Cleaning of Woolens (Sweaters by Machine): Part 4

Many people will wash at least some of their woolens in washing machines. I do this with some of my silk blouses but wash every wool sweater by hand (which is probably why my sweaters go back decades).

My grandmother had something like this modern appliance in the basement. (I remember it being very noisy.) She never washed woolens – or anything “nice” with it. She washed only bed linens and towels in it. (Pic source) Undergarments she washed on pots on the kitchen stove. (I don’t think she trusted machines.)

If this is the kind of washing machine you are using, I would recommend you not wash wool sweaters in it – even machine washable ones. 🙂

To wash your woolens in a modern machine, first put them in mesh lingerie washing bags. Be sure to use a gentle liquid soap and fill up the machine with cool water, lower in your sweaters, and turn on the gentle cycle.

If the sweaters are delicate, I suggest you not let them spin too much. Stop the cycle before it starts to spin fast (after most of the water has drained), and carefully take out the mesh bags.

If the sweaters are very wet, follow the towel rolling procedure in the previous blog post. Be sure and dry the woolens flat on a mesh rack. By the way, don’t put your machine-washable woolens in the dryer; dry them flat too.

As I have always followed mormor’s instructions for caring for woolens, my hand-made sweaters, scarves, and hats (not so much socks) last for decades.

In this picture, my daughter is modeling the (wool) sweater her great-grandmother (my grandmother) made me for my 16 birthday (almost 40 years ago). It is still in perfect condition.

In 10 more years, I will take a picture of my granddaughter wearing the sweater her great-great-grandmother made!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Fibers, Miscellany and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Care & Cleaning of Woolens (Sweaters by Machine): Part 4

  1. A lettuce spinner! What a great idea!


  2. I’ve thought the same thing (on my silks), … that no matter how gentle a cycle I’ve used, they shrink a bit. So I wash almost all silks and all wools by hand. If you wash them when the weather is still warm, you can always toss the wet towels over bushes and fences to dry out. 🙂


  3. I agree! And it’s well knit (evenly, good gauge, firm twist in yarn), and that helps it last and keep its shape too.


  4. Oh yes … I hope my granddaughter will wear it too! And what’s really amazing is the lack of pills!


  5. Thank you … and how wonderful will it be to see my granddaughter wearing that sweater – in another 10-12 years or so. 🙂


  6. Thank you … I’ve washed a LOT of wool! 🙂


  7. marjorie says:

    How lovely! When I was young and single i used to wash all my underwear and sweaters by hand and got rid of extra water by spinning in a large lettuce spinner. Worked great. Sweaters came out beautiful and underwear lasted much longer than the ones I wash in the machine. Made a damn good salad too.


  8. kiwiyarns says:

    I really must stop being lazy and wash my handknit sweaters by hand. It’s not the washing I hate as much as the getting all the water out, and all those darned towels! But I have a very sneaky suspicion that even on wool cycle, my machine is slowly shrinking some of my more loved items of handknit clothing!!


  9. What a beautiful heirloom! It just goes the show the value of investing in good yarn and woollens. 🙂


  10. caityrosey says:

    That’s very impressive that that sweater has lasted this long. What a wonderful thing to be able to pass down.


  11. What a delightful post. I am living and loving it. Is is a treat to see your dear daughter in her great grandma’s knitted garment.


  12. sparklesness says:

    Loving! Darn autocorrect.


  13. sparklesness says:

    Gorgeous! Still looks good 40 years on.

    I’m living this series. Very informative.


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