Sweaters can pill, they can stretch (or shrink), they can unravel, but not if you take the time to take care of them. They’re delicate, even for how chunky and thick they tend to be. You shouldn’t just chuck them in the wash and hope for the best.
A few simple adjustments to your laundry process could mean a massive change in how your sweaters last.
I bought this fabric shaver after realizing that my wool coat was pilling. In less time than it takes to lint roll the whole thing, I got rid of all of the pills. I use this thing on all of my sweaters, on my couch, and I even tested it on my arm hair (it works). The adjustable head means you don't need to worry about shaving too much off. It also makes the most satisfying sound, like a weed whacker trimming on a sidewalk. If you prefer something with more control, sweater combs are your best bet.
Stretching or Shrinking
The best way to keep your sweaters from shrinking is to hand wash and air dry them. Not many people have the time or patience for this. Of the two processes, the dryer is the thing that will cause sweaters to shrink, so I would skip that all together. Invest in a detergent that works with the material, like this Wool & Cashmere Shampoo from The Laundress.
When it comes to stretching, you should never hang your sweaters. Gravity is not your sweater’s friend and it will start to stretch it out, especially when wet. If you do plan on air drying your sweaters, pick up a sweater drying rack, like this OXO one, that will keep your sweaters flat while they dry. Want to dry more than one sweater at a time? They stack nicely and even fold flat to be stored basically anywhere.
Pulling or Unraveling
If you can't avoid washing them in a machine, a good way to keep your sweater from getting any snags is to protect it in the wash from the rest of your abrasive clothing. Start off by avoiding washing them with heavy fabrics that have adornments like denim with buttons and zippers. Then, get a mesh bag to house your sweaters while in the machine. Similar to the way you would wash lingerie, you don’t want to have your sweaters milling about other fabrics (or bra hooks) that could damage them.
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