Need-to-Know Tips on the Proper Care and Storage of Your Sweaters

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Anna Hoychuk)

We’re coming up on sweater weather, y’all. While you’re slowly changing out your closet – pulling those cool-weather clothes out of under-bed storage and trying to sartorially navigate between the seasons – you might find your closet getting a bit tighter with all your bulky knits.

The solution? Slim down your sweater collection to your most favorite and best-built pieces, then take really good care of them.

How often you should wash sweaters:

You should wash cotton, silk, and cashmere after two to three wears, since these pieces are more delicate. Wool and durable man-made blends, such as acrylic and polyester, can withstand five wears. Whatever the fiber, follow the care instructions on the label. Real Simple

On dry cleaning vs. hand or machine washing:

Dry cleaning is nearly essential for wool or wool blends. Cotton can be dry cleaned, but it isn’t as necessary as with wool. Machine washing wool will damage the fabric and probably ruin your sweater. You can hand wash or machine wash most cotton or cotton blend sweaters (but read the label on the shirt just to make sure). Real Men, Real Style

The proper way to dry a sweater:

Never wring anything. Gently squeeze water out of the sweater and then lay it flat on a towel. Roll it up like a sleeping bag to really suck up the excess water. Dry it by laying it flat on a clean towel or a drying rack.Madewell

To care for a cashmere sweater:

Cashmere requires special treatment, and it almost always needs to be hand-washed. → How To: Hand Wash a Cashmere Sweater

To gently remove pills from a sweater:

The unavoidable truth is all sweaters will pill just by wearing or cleaning them. You can remove pills easily by holding the sweater flat with one hand and slicing off pills one at a time with a simple razor, like a Bic. Madewell

To fix a noticeable snag:

Grab a crochet hook! Turn the sweater inside out. Insert your tool into the same stitch as the snag and gently pull the snag through. To keep the stitch in place, tie it in a knot a few times. Turn the sweater right side out. The snag now lives on the inside of the sweater which no one can see. Apartment Therapy Home Hacks: How To Rejuvenate Your Sweaters

How to hang a sweater on a hanger so it doesn’t stretch out or get shoulder bumps:

Step 1: Fold your sweater in half. Step 2: Place the hanger hook in the armpit, and fold the waist and sleeves over the hanger. Step 3: Ta da! A stretch-free hang (and some serious sweater origami). Huffington Post (they have GIFs)

To shrink a stretched-out sweater:

Wet the sweater down and put it in the dryer on very high heat until it’s bone dry. You can customize the shrink with how wet the sweater is: Completely soaking it will lead to more shrinking, while misting it till it’s just damp will shrink it less. Madewell

To shrink up just the stretched cuffs:

Quite often, the cuffs of sweaters will get stretched while the rest of the sweater looks just fine. To tighten the cuffs, dip just the stretched area in hot water and blot slightly. Place the wet cuffs on a white towel and dry them with a hair dryer set on hot air. This will slightly felt the fibers and tighten the

To eliminate sweater moths:

If you have a serious infestation, you need to call in the professionals. Sweater moths can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to clothing, carpets and curtains. Otherwise, here are some sensible steps to discourage the little blighters from taking up residence in your home. → Search and Destroy: How To Get Rid of Sweater Moths