We've all been there: we love knitwear but are intimidated by how delicate it is. What if it pills or bobbles? Or worse, what if it shrinks? Yikes! Not to worry, though, because taking care of your knits is easier than you think.
Read on for our comprehensive, fool-proof list of 5 simple & easy ways to care for your knitwear so that it can last you for a long time.
1. Always, always, always follow the care label instructions.
This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people ignore this! Knitwear care varies depending on the types of fabrics, styles, materials, etc. so it's important that you follow the instructions to take better care of your items. Remember, the manufacturer tested each item and chose the best way to care for it, so there's very little chance that you can go wrong if you follow their directions. You will typically see these options:
- Dry Clean Only: You need to send your garment out to a professional dry cleaner who will do the job for you. However, a very good (and way more affordable) alternative is using Dryel at home. Dryel uses steam from your dryer to clean your garments in as little as 15 to 20 minutes, and you also skip the chemicals from dry cleaning professionally. Our founders at Grete have personally used Dryel for years with great results.
Hand Wash Only: Use clean, lukewarm water. The water should feel just warm to the touch - don't use hot water. You can use regular detergent, but preferably, use a mild detergent, such as Woolite. Soak your item for 10 minutes by gently submerging it underwater. Rinse the garment in lukewarm water and finish it with cold water. Remove as much water as possible by pressing on the garment. Lay it flat to air dry on any clean surface.
- Machine Washable: Use the wool setting, or if your washing machine doesn't have a wool cycle, then use the cycle for delicates, always with cold water. Lay your garment flat to air dry on any clean surface, unless the care label specifies that it can be tumble dried, in which case you should use a low heat setting.
2. Whatever method you use, launder your knitwear inside out.
There is a lot of debate about whether this is actually effective or not, but we suggest you do it. It's very easy and you don't lose anything by doing it but you could gain a lot (including being able to wear your knits for longer). Your items will get just as clean, but you'll be protecting the outside from the rubbing and potential snagging with other items. It'll also help against discoloration, ensuring that they'll look better for a longer period of time.
3. Avoid using softeners, or if you do use a softener, keep it to a minimum.
Too much softener can lead to your knitwear pilling or bobbling, because softeners act as lubricants and might enable fibers to move more easily. Also, as with most clothing, avoid heavy duty detergents or any detergents containing bleaches. Never use bleach of any kind, as this will certainly damage your knits.
4. Ironing is... optional.
Generally, knitwear won’t need ironing and we recommend that you do not iron your knits if you don't need to. And of course, make sure you read the label here, too: if it says do not iron, then definitely don't! Ideally, if you laid your items flat to dry, you can remove wrinkles with your hands as best you can while the garment is still wet.
If you do iron your knits, we recommend using the iron on the medium-hot setting and spraying the item with a little water before ironing, or using the steaming function. Don’t apply excess pressure while ironing as this might make the item’s surface shiny. And also avoid using spray-on softeners because... read #3 above.
5. Store your knitwear flat, instead of hanging it.
Of course this will also depend on the type of knitwear you have: you won't run into problems when hanging lighter knits, but hanging heavier items might lead to them stretching or deforming. If you must hang your knitwear, look for broad, padded hangers. And avoid hangers with hooks or grips, as these could leave markings. Before you store your items, make sure that they’re completely dry and have no damp patches.
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We hope these tips help you take better care of your knitwear. A bit of attention and good care will go a long way!
Let us know if you have any questions in the Comments section below and we will be happy to help.