How to care for knitwear in 5 Easy and Stress free steps

One of the questions I’m consistently asked from clients, is how do I look after it? So to make sure that you have knitwear that will look beautiful for years to come let’s look at How to care for knitwear in 5 easy and stress free steps

When you’ve likely spent more on a handmade item than you would have expanded on a store bought piece, it’s natural to want to make sure you care for it. You want it to stay in the same beautiful condition you purchased it in.

How to care for your knitwear in 5 steps

1. Don’t machine wash

Lady standing on a wooden step reaching into a top loading washing machine with baskets of washing around her
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

I know the yarn label says you can, so yes you can but it will decrease the lifespan of any yarny items.

This is fine when it’s a baby hat that won’t fit within a few months but if it’s an heirloom blanket you’re likely to want to keep it as pristine as possible.

So just how are you going to hand wash your items correctly?

Choose the sink, bath, a tub something that’s an appropriate size and half fill with lukewarm or for very delicate wools cold water and a few drops of a suitable detergent. You can generally find these in the supermarket and I will pop a link to one on Amazon to make it really easy for you.

If you can choose a no rinse formula to make this step as easy and stress free as possible, eucalan is one example.

Soak your garment in cold water 5 – 10 minutes before washing this will help prevent wool from shrinking. Swish your garments in the water using very gentle agitation and for only seconds, 30 seconds absolute maximum. Leave the item to sit for about 15 minutes to allow the detergent to do its thing

Drain the water out being careful to take its weight so it does not become misshapen – it’s going to be delicate right now.

2. Always Airdry

I know, I know the label says it’s OK but trust me airdrying is definitely better 100% better!

You’ve just drained the water and have this big mass of wool and water and no clue what to do.

The first thing you want to do is drain as much of the water as you can.

Gently squeeze your knitwear to release some of the water. Now remember I said it was delicate be extra careful make sure that you are holding all the weight, especially with larger items, otherwise, you can cause your item to stretch itself. If there are any loose areas the weight of the water will just pull the fabric down.

Now using a clean towel or two (or more if it’s a humongous blanket, in which case plan bath night for another day!) lay the item flat on the towel and roll it up.

Gently squeeze, the towel to help remove as much of the excess water as possible, but as ever be gentle and be careful not to wring it.

Sunny day in the country and 3 white pieces of laundry are pegged out on a wahsing line
Washing line

3. Dry flat

Now all the excess water is out dry your item flat use the top of a folded out maiden, or lay it on the floor or table. Some yarns can take days to dry so bear this in mind when you decide on the best spot.

close up photo of three sweatshirts
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

Avoid drying in direct heat or sunshine

4. Reshape

Before it is left to do its thing, reshape or “block” your item.

trendy knitted sweater with unusual loose threads on white surface
Photo by Skylar Kang on

This will ensure it is perfectly shaped once dried. As an example, I was asked a couple of days ago about a sweater that had super long sleeves (not one of mine)

In this instance, the sleeves need to be gently pulled width ways to decrease the length. This needs to be done in increments so just a little at a time working up the sleeve and starting from the bottom again until you are happy with the results.

If you have something that has become wavy for example a stretched neckline, using the same principles work around the neckline to regain its shape.

Assuming that this still hasn’t completely achieved the desired effect you can pin the area for a better finish. This would involve using some type of mat, a childs foam flooring set would work perfectly – think yoga mat in type.

Using standard sewing pins pin the area down. You are using the point of the pin and pining the item to the mat, you are not attempting to put the pin back through the garment.

Use this technique to flatten the area and use as many pins as it requires.

5. Storage

Always fold and put in drawers of storage bags.

3 blankets in cream, lime and grey laid on top of each other on a table

Hanging will cause distortion, especially on the shoulders as gravity will cause your item to pull

Avoid a centre crease by folding, in thirds from the arms for jumpers for example.

Using these tips and techniques will increase the life of your items, as well as keep them looking in great condition.

Key benefits of knowing how to care for your knitwear

Understanding how to care for your knitwear will have so many benefits so let’s look at some of the key ones

  • Your knitwear will last longer
  • Your knitwear will look pristine
  • You won’t be stressing about caring for your knitwear
  • You have a simple to follow structure
  • You won’t need to replace items that have shrunk, become misshapen or too baggy
  • You will save money because you are not having to replace your knitwear
  • You will have the confidence to buy or make the knitwear you want knowing you can care for it

For many of us, knitwear especially handmade is a luxury either in the cost of an artisan piece, the cost of luxury yarn and the time required to make your piece.

Knowing how to care for your knitwear will give you the freedom to choose any fabric or yarn and be confident that you can care for it.

Ready to make something?

Head over to our Guide for complete beginners

Some of my links are affiliate links some are not – I love the items I link regardless. If you click the link and make a purchase I may earn a small commission this is at no additional cost to you.

This is the brand I have used and it is a no rinse formula so there is less handling of the wool meaning that you are keeping your knitwear in the best condition it can be

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