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how to machine wash sweaters

It's easier than you might think to machine wash sweaters at home, and keep them looking like new and feeling soft in the process. 

The key to washing sweaters at home is simply this: Choose the right temperature for your sweater's fabric to keep it from losing color or its shape (but a temperature that can also get it clean), and knowing whether or not your sweater is safe to put in the dryer.

This guide to machine washing acrylic, angora, cashmere, chenille, cotton, silk and wool sweaters will help keep these cold-weather wardrobe staples clean and looking like new.

how to machine wash acrylic sweaters.

Wash acrylic sweaters as directed on the label (usually warm water). Then either lay the sweater flat to dry or tumble dry on low if the label says that's OK. 

how to machine wash angora sweaters.

Angora sweaters are a blend of rabbit hair and synthetic fibers. Angora is prone to shrinking, so this is one sweater you may want to consider dry cleaning. 

However, even if the label says it can be washed, don't put your angora sweater in the washing machine. Instead, wash it by hand with a gentle laundry detergent and lay flat to dry.

how to machine wash cashmere sweaters.

Cashmere is usually goat hair blended with wool or synthetic fibers. Go by the label instructions here, if you can read them. Usually, you can wash a cashmere sweater on the delicate cycle in cold water.

Roll in a towel to squeeze out excess water, reshape, and dry flat on a surface away from sunlight or direct heat.

(Shop the top-rated laundry detergents here.)

washing chenille sweaters.

If you want chenille sweaters to stay soft, don't put them in the washing machine - even if the label says it's OK. The rubbing caused by the machine agitation can damage the fibers and make them snag or feel rough. Instead, hand wash chenille sweaters inside out, and lay flat to dry.

how to wash cotton sweaters.

Usually, you can hand or machine wash cotton sweaters in cool water. Lay flat to dry. It may need ironing, however.

how to wash silk sweaters.

Some silk sweaters can be washed in the delicate cycle in cold water and flat dried. But they made need ironing afterward. Check the label to be sure it can safely be washed first.

how to wash wool sweaters.

Some wool sweaters can be washed; others cannot. Check the label.

In general, Shetland and Merino wools often can be washed in cold water on the most delicate cycle. Agitation can cause them to shrink. If you do put it in the washing machine, use the gentlest cycle and wash in cool water. Lay flat to dry.

general sweater washing tips:

  • Always turn sweaters inside out to reduce pilling. Wash in extra-large mesh bags. If hand washing, remove excess moisture by rollin the sweater in a towel.
  • If you do put your sweater in the dryer, dry on low heat and remove it when it's almost dry and let it finish drying flat on a rack.
  • Flat drying: Place the sweater on a rack and reshape it as much as possible. Do not dry near heat or in direct sunlight. Check it occasionally to make sure it's not shrinking as it dries. If it does, pull it back out to its original size. (Mark the outline on your rack with tape.)
  • Pills: You can buy one of those battery-powered pill removers but that's an exercise in frustration. The best way is to gently shave the sweater with a plastic safety razor. But very, very gently.
  • Storage: Never put away a sweater dirty as this makes it more attractive to pests. Also, some stains may set. Fold to store; do not hang.

To make your sweaters last longer, air them out at least 24 hours after you wear them (and before you wear them again). Then fold and store out of direct sunlight.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the stain removal products and laundry supplies you need to keep your clothes looking their best.

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