In our previous Spring Clean article we’ve established that keeping your woollies clean is a key step in preventing moth infestation. Many washing machines today come with a gentle wool cycle which typically features low temperature washing with low speed tumbling and spinning.
Low temperatures will protect your knitwear from felting while low speed spinning and tumbling will avoid stretching the fabric. This is particularly true for chunkier knits which become very heavy once they’re wet and so more prone to stretching.
Always be very careful when using a wool cycle for the first time. Especially if it doesn’t give you the option to adjust the water temperature or the spinning speed. In lower quality washing machines the wool cycle might still be too harsh and damage your knitwear. If in doubt throw a swatch in your machine and see how it survives the treatment.
Do the same thing when you are about to wash a new knit for the first time. Each wool reacts slightly differently to washing so if you do not 100% trust your washing machine, clean your swatch first and see how it goes.
When hand washing always use tepid water and a neutral, mild detergent like our trusty Soak wool wash. Soak is manufactured in a skin care facility and only uses 100% hypoallergenic fragrances. It is therefore very gentle on the skin. To proceed with the washing immerse your garment under water while gently massaging the fabric. Focus on areas that need a bit more attention like the underarms. As explained earlier knitwear are more prone to stretch when they’re wet so be very delicate while washing. Once that’s done let it soak for 20 minutes and then rinse.
You will need to rinse until the water runs clear. This might take a bit of time depending on how chunky your knitwear is. Another reason why we are such a big fan of Soak here at YAK is that it doesn’t need to be rinsed. It simply dries out of the fabric like magic! If you do use a product that needs rinsing remember to never rinse directly under the tap as the water pressure might cause the fabric to felt. Once you’re finished, empty your bath tub and press the excess water out of your garment. The best way to do it is to gather it into a ball in between your hand. In this way you won’t inadvertently stretch the fabric. Repeat this step until you get most of the water out.
Place your knit on a towel and roll the towel into a tube like shape. Walk all over it until the towel is drenched in water. You might need to repeat that step with a second towel. My next advice applies to both hand and machine washing; always lay your woollies flat when drying! Again this will protect the fabric from stretching.
For those of you who like to experiment with all-natural cleaning products we’ve stumbled across a recipe for laundry detergent made entirely out of horse chestnuts. This is a great alternative to ‘normal’ laundry liquids which usually use harsh chemicals and contribute to water pollution. This would particularly work well with woollens or any other type of delicate fabric.
Until Next Time… Happy Knitting!