Our favourite knitwear: jumpers and cardigans, legwarmers, scarfs, hats and gloves all become vital to our comfort in the chilly winter months. Wool is a wonderful natural fabric and can last a long time, if we know the best way to wash and care for it.
Many clothes are a mix of natural wool and manmade fibres and it’s essential to always check the laundry label sewn into the neck or side seam to check what the manufacturer recommends. Today, as we largely wash at lower temperatures, it can be tempting to bung our woollies in with our normal wash, but beware, to keep knitwear looking fabulous it’s worth taking a bit of extra care.
With wool, just remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry and hand washing is the best way to go for long-lasting good looks.
Hand washing Wool
1. Prepare a bowl or sink of lukewarm water.
2. Use a mild soap, baby shampoo or non-biological, non-bleaching detergent. Strong detergents will cause your knitwear to become coarse and the fibres to become matted.
3. Turn it inside out and leave the garment to soak for about 10 minutes.
4. Gentle swirl and carefully massage suds through fibres. Never rub at stains because friction encourages a fuzzy coarse finish when the knitwear dries.
5. Rinse using fresh cold water two or three times to wash out all the detergent.
6. Press out the water and RESIST the urge to wring. Wringing will pull knitwear out of shape and encourage bobbling.
7. Speed up drying time by sandwiching and rolling the garment firmly in a clean towel.
8. Dry naturally supported on an airer away from direct heat and never use a tumble dryer.
Need to use your washing machine? If the label recommends and time is tight, turn your knitwear inside out and it into a mesh bag. This will help stop bobbling and damage from the washing drum, zips, buttons and poppers on your other clothes. Use a wool, cold or delicate wash cycle and never wash wool above 30°C. Dry on an airer.
“Oops I’ve shrunk my wool jumper!”
Your favourite jumper has snuck into the household wash and is now toddler sized. If your shrunken jumper has the feel of felt and no give in it at all, then, sadly, there’s nothing you can do. In this case the fibres are too badly damaged, however, these jumpers are always warmly welcomed in pet baskets.
How to rescue a shrunken jumper:
1. Prepare a bowl of lukewarm water.
2. Add around 1/3 cup of hair conditioner.
3. Turn your jumper inside out and let it soak for around 10 minutes.
4. Let the water drain out of the fibres.
5. Press the excess water out, don’t wring.
5. Aid drying by sandwiching and rolling firmly in a clean towel to help remove more moisture.
6. Gently stretch the jumper back to its original size and shape.
7. Supported on an airer, let the jumper dry naturally away from direct heat.
For wool woven wear like trousers, skirts and suits dry cleaning is often best. After wearing you can prolong their life between cleaning by airing them on a hanger for an hour or so before putting them away. When you do put them in the wardrobe always use hangers, remove belts, empty pockets and do up zips and buttons to avoid bulging and sagging. If you are travelling, woven wool clothes can be refreshed after being crushing in a suitcase by hanging them for a short time in a steamy bathroom, as the moisture will remove the wrinkles.
Alternatively, let us take a load off your mind. We clean and care for a wide range of woollens and woven garments, but whatever you do, keep enjoying and wearing this fantastic natural fabric.
Find out more about wool, its use and care at ww.woolmark.com.