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Caring for Your Hand Knits

Caring for Your Hand Knits

Caring for your hand knitted and crocheted items.

An array of hand knit sweaters

After all of the time, money, effort and energy you’ve put into creating your hand knitted or crocheted items, you want to be sure to take proper care of them. 


Let’s talk about your wool sweaters first. You only need to wash your wool sweaters about twice a year. One of the amazing and wonderful things about wool is that it does not absorb odors easily. So unless I spill something on one of my sweaters, I don’t wash it more than about twice per year. Once the weather starts to warm up where I live (which is probably much later than where you live) I pull out my sweaters and wash them in batches before I store them away for the summer. This is how I do it - 

Sweater soaking in soapy water

  • Put warm water and a capful of Eucalan wool wash in a basin of water. 
  • Submerge one sweater at a time in the basin. You’ll need to push the sweater down into the water. If the sweater is really dirty, you can push it up and down in the water a few times. 
  • Let the sweater soak for 15-20 minutes. It takes awhile for wool to soak up water. 

Squeezing water out of the sweater (with photo bomb by Emma)

  • Take your sweater out of the basin and squeeze as much water as you can out of the garment. I squeeze the water back into my basin to reuse if it’s not too dirty. If it is too dirty, I take the water out and water some of my garden plants with it. (That is Emma photo bombing the photo).

Sweater in a salad spinner.

  • Put your sweater into a salad spinner and spin as much water out as you can. (You can put this water back into your basin or water your plants with it as well. 
  • Then put your sweater into your washing machine. 
  • Repeat steps 1-6 for 4 or 5 sweaters (if your water wasn’t too dirty after your first sweater, you can reuse it for the second sweater.)
  • Run the spin cycle on your washing machine.
  • Lay your sweaters out on clean towels to let dry completely. 
  • Repeat steps 1-9 for as many sweaters as you want to store for the summer. 

Hand knit sweater

(Here is my Alpenglühen sweater designed by Isabell Kraemer and knit in Malabrigo Rios in Aguas, all washed and ready to be stored for the summer.)

Hand knit sweaters in a sweater bag.

Once I have washed all of my sweaters and they are completely dry, I put them into either a plastic tub with a tight fitting lid or a sweater bag like these that you can get at the container store .  A lot of people want to put cedar balls or lavender in with your sweaters. You can do this, and it may make your sweaters smell good, but everything that I’ve read says that neither of those things are very effective at keeping wool moths out of your sweaters. The best way to keep moths out is to have a container that will keep them out. You want to wash your sweaters before you store them because moths are more attracted to dirty wool. Moths like the 3 D’s - dark, damp and dirt. 

Plastic tub with hand knit shawls.

You can repeat this process for other hand knits or crocheted items periodically. When I wash things like hats or shawls I don’t bother to run them through the spin cycle on my washing machine. I just soak them, squeeze out as much water as possible and then put them through my salad spinner or roll them up in the Super-absorbant Towel from Coco Knits and press out as much water as possible. Then I lay them out on dry towels. I store all of my hand knits in some kind of container unless I’m wearing them regularly. I hope this helps! -- Sunni

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Diane - May 15, 2023

This was so helpful! I never would have thought a salad spinner and washing machine spin cycle could be used to wash my sweaters. Game changer!

Suzanne - August 12, 2022

Thanks for posting the very helpful advice-LOVE seeing Emma “the photo bombing chicken”. I actually have followed your advice and put all of our family’s clean wool items in plastic totes!

Sharon Peterson - August 12, 2022

Hi! I have freshened my woolens a few weeks ago. I never thought of the salad spinner! Brilliant. Usually I wrap the garment in a clean white towel, and have Husband step on it to get as much of the water out. No more!!

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