As we make the trans-seasonal switch, so do the contents of our closets. Before you start packing away your Winter woolies, we suggest you take the time to clean, care and store your knits so they'll be in pristine condition when you next need them. It's time to study up on your sweater-care etiquette — think mothballs, pillings, when to wash, how to wash, and so on. Between knowing your fibres, owning a bottle of wool wash, and staying far far away from the dryer, you'll be in pretty good shape. Ready to steel yourself (and your knitwear) against the daily evils of wear and tear? Just keep reading.
- Storage locale counts. Where you keep your sweaters is a huge factor in how they "age." The ideal storage spot for your cold-weather layers should be cool and dry. Direct sunlight (we know some of you rock those hanging racks) causes some fabrics to yellow, and as much as it makes sense to hang your sweaters, it's actually better to fold them. If you do decide to keep them hanging, splurge on cedar hangers, which help to repel moths.
- Keep the pilling at bay. You know those little balled-up pieces of fabric that gather when you've worn a sweater a few times? Well, they're easy to get rid of, and in no way, require a trip to the dry cleaners. We've got a quick video on how to dispel pillings, courtesy of FabSugar TV's Allison McNamara. Bottom line: invest in a sweater comb or shaver (and in desperate times, use a piece of fine-grit sandpaper).
- Know your fiber ABCs. Here's the deal: caring for your sweaters properly lands squarely on knowing what they're made from. Wool is an umbrella term for a textile fibre borne from sheep, goats, rabbits, and some members of the camel family. Still with us? OK, on that note, let's refresh our memories on the official wool breakdown. Angora refers to rabbit hair, mohair refers to hair from an Angora goat, cashmere stems from the hair of a Cashmere goat, merino is a type of sheep hair, and llama wool, well you know where that hair comes from.
How to clean your cashmere pieces and other handy sweater-saving tips after the break.
- Don't believe the "dry clean only" hype. Seriously, don't believe it. Unless you have a massive stain on your cashmere sweater, there's no need to dry clean your goods. Instead, hand wash your pieces in cold water with a mild detergent (like wool wash or a baby shampoo). Look for low-alkaline soap, the lower the alkaline level the better.
- Keep your wash time to a minimum. Once the sweater is submerged and gently washed, take care to get it out of the water after only a few minutes. The longer you keep your garments wet, the more apt they are to bleed and fade.
- Press, don't wring. When it comes to drying your cashmere layers, press the water out, don't wring or squeeze too tightly. Too much pressure applied can make the sweater lose its shape and wrinkle permanently. For the final touch, lay flat to dry. Want to cut down on dry time? Use a salad spinner to get out excess water.
- Cold water is your friend. Like most delicate fabrics, just err on the side of cold-water practices. In this case, never use warm water. Wool is susceptible to shrinking in hot temperatures, if you haven't already experienced this firsthand. Then, just remember to air dry. Again, hot temperatures mean no tumble drying.
- Cedar hangers for the win. If you must hang your wool sweaters (and sometimes this comes down to a space issue, we get it), use cedar hangers. We mentioned this above, but it's worth another shout-out. Moths don't like cedar, and therefore, will steer clear of your wool layers.
- Fabric softener bonus. For the spandex blends, rayons, and polyester sweaters in the mix, this is the easy part. You can machine wash in warm water and tumble dry on low. The trick here? Use fabric softener when washing to curb static and future pilling on these pieces.