Best Practices for Machine Washing Knits + Sweaters Best Practices for Machine Washing Knits + Sweaters

Best Practices for Machine Washing Knits + Sweaters

Want to know the right way to machine wash your sweaters? With the seasons changing it’s time to bust out your winter clothes and your sweaters could probably use a wash before you start to wear them, and no—we don’t expect you to wash each one by hand. No shrinking this winter (& many winters to come) thanks to these best practices and tips!

First, let’s start with how you should be storing your sweaters for their long summer away from the closet. If you’re like most, you simply fold and place them into a large plastic storage container and you immediately forget until the temperature drops below 40°.

Next, determine the best care by looking at the care labels on each of your garments. If you have one that specifically instructs for dry-cleaning or special care aside from a machine wash, take note and make alternate plans for those to get their dirty out. For everything else, read on…


Detergent Choices

You don’t need any type of specialty detergent for your wools or other cozy knit fabrics. If you would like to keep your laundering products as streamlined as possible, go for an alcohol-free, mild detergent like Boulder Clean Laundry Detergent. Keep in mind, you need only a very small amount. A teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on load sizes, will have you covered. The worst thing you can do for your sweaters: over-detergent them.


Mind Your Materials

As we stated before, there are some materials that just will never be a machine wash acceptable. Check the care labels and determine if they are machine-appropriate. If you have cashmere that you love, you may want to follow EXACTLY what it says in the instructions and we’re going to bet that’s a no-go for machine washing. Fast tip: natural materials tend to need cold water while man-made materials require warmer temperatures.


Water Temperature

Choose cold water for sweaters. Every. Time. Your machine builds certain temperatures into various cycles automatically (perhaps if you have a newer machine it allows you to customize your cycles) but long story short: use cold water throughout.


Choosing a Cycle

Depending on your machine, pick the shortest cycle length available. Some machines express time in actual minutes (look for one that’s 4-15,) while others define these cycles as light, normal, heavy, etc. The lighter, the better. You may want to experiment through your next few washes to figure out what works best with your machine and for you!



Air Dry. Air Dry. Air Dry. Always. We don’t care if you need that sweater in the next hour, you should have thought about that earlier. There is too much friction in your dyer, even on the delicate or air-dry setting, for your knits and sweaters. Simply lay your sweater flat (hanging can cause wet fibers to stretch so beware!) and allow to dry in its own time. You can speed things up by placing it near a window, fan or dehumidifier but don’t you dare pop it into your dryer.


Other Important Washing Tips

  • Even with your best work keeping care of your sweaters, they will still pill up and occasionally you’ll have a snag or a tear. Get an electric lint remover or a sweater shaver to remove those tiny pieces and make it feel like brand new.
  • Turn your sweaters inside out when washing. This will help keep the outside pretty and help detergent penetrate the inside that has been closest to your skin.
  • Keep in mind you can usually get away with washing a sweater every 4-5 uses (as long as you’re not stain-prone at least!)
  • For super delicates, place them into a washable garment bag before throwing them in the wash.
  • If all else fails—HAND WASH!


Just like that, you’ve entered the world of long-lasting sweaters hopefully for seasons and seasons to come. Go forth and be cozy in your sweaters and remember—always play hard and clean easy with Boulder Clean.


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