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How to hand wash a sweater?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by imageWIS, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Taking a break from studying:

    I will show my ignorance, but how does one hand wash a wool / cashmere sweater?

    Jon.
     
  2. linux_pro

    linux_pro Well-Known Member

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    I wash my cashmere sweaters by filling a small pail with some cold water and putting a very light amount of soap in it, then mix up the soap until there is very little suds (and no concentrated soap anywhere), and then dip the sweater into it and swish it around a bit. Then I take the sweater out quickly, and rinse it about 3 or 4 times with clean cold water. I then fill a different pail with cold water (no soap) and put my sweater in the new pail of clean water to soak for about 10 minutes. After that, I pull the sweater out, ring it gently a few times, and then lay them flat on a thin towel (which we lay on a table) on our back deck (it is a covered deck) overnight to dry. Sometimes it takes up to 36 hours to dry.

    Believe it or not, this tends to do a better cleaning job than machines, and my cashmere sweaters last a LOT longer. I dry them on a towel because I found that if I hang-dry the sweaters, they tend to stretch a bit and lose their shape. If I lay them flat on a towel, they tend to keep their shape very well over a long period of time.

    It does not require much soap at all. I hardly use any. If you use too much soap, it will not rinse completely.
     
  3. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    I do it in the sink, using a little bit of Woolite with lukewarm water, swish around and squeeze through, let soak if you want, then rinse many times. Then squeeze out gently, lay out on a big towel and arrange into shape. Put another towel on top. Roll the whole sweater burrito up and let it sit a few hours or overnight. Don't leave it too long or it will start smelling funny. Unroll and possibly steam out.

    If you do a few at a time, it's less work/time than driving them to the cleaners, plus they are always softer after doing this and I haven't had great luck with cleaners.
     
  4. linux_pro

    linux_pro Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I definitely prefer hand-washing to taking in for dry-cleaning. Perhaps that has something to do with losing a beautiful cashmere sweater that had been given to me by my father as a graduation gift (it had sentimental value). I was so pissed off I decided to never take a good sweater to a dry-cleaner again, and actually found that my sweaters last much longer, feel much softer and cleaner, and just hold their shape much better if I wash by hand. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also use Woolite (or sometimes I use liquid detergent, although I try to avoid that if possible). Also, if you leave the garment outdoors (if possible), I've found that it will dry quicker and for whatever reason you don't seem to get any smell or mildew.
     
  5. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    I have covered balconies, but the possibility of random sideways rain around here tends to rule out that option except on really nice days.

    Fun fact about Seattle: the fifth day of any weather forecast is no better than random at predicting the actual weather that day. The Seattle area is the most difficult area on Earth for weather prediction.
     
  6. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    Well, I took a sweater to the drycleaners because it had way too much smoke smell on it (I don't smoke, but if one goes to areas where people smoke...) and I did not have anytime over the weekend to learn and clean it. Alas, even though the shape seems ok, there is something about it; a certain I don't know what that strikes me that it is not as it was before.

    Alas, it's not damaged, and I'm thankful for that, but I have had things ruined by drycleaners in the past and would rather just do it at home.

    Anyways, back to calc... (shoot me)

    Jon.
     
  7. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    Steam will often get out smoke smell. Also, just airing the sweater (put it on a wide hanger so it can get good circulation), especially outside, will help a lot. You can try that first before washing. Don't steam a sweater with food spots, though; you can set them harder that way.

    Fun tip #2 of the thread: Don't rinse dishes with raw egg on them with hot water - it will cook onto the dish.
     
  8. thinman

    thinman Well-Known Member

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    Dry cleaners' chemicals will take natural oils out of wool/cashmere and shorten its lifespan. I use Woolite and follow the instructions for cold-water wash. Same as recommended by linux_pro. j's burrito style roll might speed drying. Since that's an issue when it's humid, I'll give it a try. No experience removing smoke smell.
     
  9. j

    j Well-Known Member

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    Now that I think about it again, if you wanted to you could put another towel inside the sweater to further speed the drying process. I have always had good luck with this method. Just don't use brand new towels. The lint gets everywhere.
     
  10. imageWIS

    imageWIS Well-Known Member

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    I don't have a steamer, but I left it in hanging in my bathroom and ran the shower at full heat 3 times and the smell did not come off. That's when I took it to the cleaners.

    Jon.
     
  11. linux_pro

    linux_pro Well-Known Member

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    (linux_pro @ Feb. 15 2005,19:58) Also, if you leave the garment outdoors (if possible), I've found that it will dry quicker and for whatever reason you don't seem to get any smell or mildew.
    I have covered balconies, but the possibility of random sideways rain around here tends to rule out that option except on really nice days. Fun fact about Seattle: the fifth day of any weather forecast is no better than random at predicting the actual weather that day. The Seattle area is the most difficult area on Earth for weather prediction.
    I couldn't agree here more. The most frustrating thing about Seattle is the completely schizophrenic nature of the weather patterns. For instance, yesterday it was gorgeous and sunny, and 34F outside. Yikes. We have a very large deck with a covered roof, so it generally works out. When it is raning, I just lay my sweater on a table with a towel underneath it. That tends to work very well. I never hang my sweaters though, because then they stretch and lose shape. Even when dry, I fold them. I hate losing a good warm (crucial to Seattle) sweater that way.
     
  12. stache

    stache Well-Known Member

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    I always pre-wet wools before I immerse them in the soapy water.
     
  13. Pink22m

    Pink22m Well-Known Member

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    I hand wash all my sweaters as well, using the methods discussed (woolite or some other fine fabric wash, cold water, towel and laying flat) except that I recently purchased a sweater dryer at Bed Bath and Beyond which helps to expedite the process. Previously I would lay them flat on a towel, but they tend to take longer to dry becuase no air is coming from below. The sweater dryer is a nylon mesh that allows air to come from under the sweater and dry it a little quicker. Plus, the device can be folded and stored away nicely. I would highly suggest using them.
     
  14. rossyl

    rossyl Well-Known Member

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    As we enter spring, I'm starting to think of storing my wool sweaters, i was wondering what you guys did in terms of cleaning them?

    Hand wash or dry clean?

    I find it hard trusting dry cleaners, essentially i know that my prized suit/sweater is just another garment amongst 1,000's they get through each week.

    Last year, I did my own handwash using this guide: http://www.fuzzygalore.biz/articles/wash_sweater.shtml

    Just wondering what everyone else did - my main hope is to keep away pesky moths.

    Cheeers,
    R
     
  15. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    The following applies to all my merino/lambs wool/cashmere sweaters.

    They are nice sweaters from the likes of Cucinelli/Loro Pianas


    Machine wash on gentle/hand wash cycle, COLD water, Woolite detergent, and table-top dry.
     
  16. Nicola

    Nicola Well-Known Member

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    Most EU machines have wool programs now. I just stick them on the coldest setting and then dry on a rack.

    You aren't supposed to do this unless the label claims it's machine washable wool but I just do it.

    Obviously if you're really worried I'd get them dry cleaned.
     
  17. Sanguis Mortuum

    Sanguis Mortuum Well-Known Member

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    Hand wash when necessary, which is very rarely.
     
  18. Little Cletus

    Little Cletus Active Member

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    Turn the garment inside out and put it inside a mesh washing bag. Wash it in a machine on the cold water gentle cycle which is really mostly soaking it with only a little agitation. Use some high quality detergent and no more than 1 oz like a shotglass. Take it out and dry flat. I hang my things on hangers to dry but the hangers are wide and have wide ends and don't leave a mark on the garment.
    The problem with hand washing is that it's even harder on the garment then machine washing and that you have to squeeze the water out which may effect the shape while the machine on gentle cycle gently spins it out. A dryer sweater when it comes out can be hung on a hanger but a hand washed one has more water in it and will stretch.
     
  19. JakeLA

    JakeLA Well-Known Member

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    If the sweater says "machine washable" than do that. If it doesn't, then don't. Even the gentlest machine wash cycle can turn a sweater into felt (although of course it's more likely to happen if you use hot water. Actually, it's guaranteed to happen if you use hot water.)

    The key is not to put any strain on the fibers. You don't want to swish the sweater in the water and you definitely don't want to wring it when it's wet. After I rinse a sweater i put it in a colander to let most of the water drain out, and then I use the old roll-inside-a-towel trick to get out the rest.
     
  20. austinite

    austinite Well-Known Member

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    I have covered balconies, but the possibility of random sideways rain around here tends to rule out that option except on really nice days.

    Fun fact about Seattle: the fifth day of any weather forecast is no better than random at predicting the actual weather that day. The Seattle area is the most difficult area on Earth for weather prediction.



    More like easiest.

    It will be 44 degrees and raining lightly. Always.

    Maybe that is just Portland.
     

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