Taking care of your handmade garments
How to take care of knitted and crocheted garments?
Sometimes we are a bit confused on how to clean knitted and crocheted items. Dry cleaning? Gentle machine wash cycle? Hand washing? 🤔
In this blog post, I will explain how I clean my knits and the best way to do it in my opinion.
Knitted and crocheted items are fragile
If you are a knitter or a crocheter, you know it takes time to make a garment. It takes dedication too. You take great care in choosing the right pattern, the perfect yarn and then you spend weeks or months making the item (I have been known to work on the same jumper for three months or more!!).
All this hard work – you do not want to ruin something made by hand the first time you are washing it!
When to wash?
We are used to wear and wash garments after a day with them on our back. But wool items can withstand being worn for longer. It sounds strange, I know! But I do not wash my woolly jumper every time i wear it. Instead, I air it, fold it and wear again.
I only wash my knits if there are stains or after a few months. Hats are washed at the end of the winter season.
Also, I usually choose a sunny day to wash my woolly items. It takes less time to dry and it’s better to dry them outside to avoid a musty smell.
How to wash?
I choose to hand wash all my woolly items: jumpers, socks, hats, gloves, shawls, scarves and cowls. You can put the socks and gloves in the washing machine on a gentle cycle – check the content of the yarn they are made of. If there is nylon, it is usually safe to do so. If not, hand wash, always!
Put lots of tepid or cold water in a dishwashing bowl with a little detergent. You can use special wool washing liquid, washing powder or even shampoo. You do not need much!
Place the garment in the basin, and let it soak the water. Do not agitate, do not wring the fibre. Just push it down, making sure all the wool is really absorbing the water. Then, move the water around very gently and press the garment under the surface. Expel the water from the fibre by pressing gently in your hands. The colour of the water changes at this stage, usually, and the dust is expelled from the fibre.
You then need to rinse your knit thoroughly. Take the garment out of the basin, chuck the dirty water out, rinse the basin and fill with clean water. Repeat the soaking / pressing process in clean water until the water expelled from the fibre is clear.
How to wring out the water from the item?
Wool fibre is very fragile. If you spin it in a washing machine, it tends to felt and shrink. The same result can occur if you are not gentle when you try to take the water out of the garment by hand though!
I usually press the item in my hand to get as much water out as i can, without agitating or rubbing it. I then lay out a large thick towel on a flat surface, and place the garment flat on top of it. I roll the towel with the woolly item inside as tight as I can: the water is going to be absorbed by the towel.
How to dry?
You need to dry your knitted item as flat as possible to avoid deformation. I usually reshape it (a bit like blocking after you finish a project), then lay it our on a flat drying rack.
The best place to let it dry is outside, especially on a sunny / windy day. If you can’t place it outdoors, you can dry it inside, maybe using a dehumidifier in the room to speed up the process.
How to keep your woolly items safe in storage?
If, like me, your house tend to be invaded by clothes mites, you need to make sure they cannot feed on your precious handmade garments. After taking the dry items inside, I fold them and store them in zip-lock bags to protect them from these hungry insects!
It will ensure all your woollies are safe and stay clean too and they will last a lifetime or more!
I hope this helps! Let me know in the comment your best tips and tricks : I’d love to hear from you!