Best Practices For Machine Washing Knits + Sweaters

With the change of seasons, comes a change of wardrobe. When it’s time to bring out your spring and summer clothes, it’s important to correctly store your fall and winter wardrobe (and vice versa). All clothing should be washed or dry cleaned before storing. That might seem like a huge hassle or huge expense, especially when it comes to sweaters.

Let’s bust this myth once and for all: You do not have to dry clean your sweaters. That’s right: Not even cashmere requires professional cleaning. However, if you’re like most people, you’re reluctant to wash your sweaters at home because you’ve had some disasters, like the time when one of your wooly favorites accidentally ended up in the dryer. But if you practice some TLC, there’s no reason to haul your beloved knits off to the cleaners whenever they need a cleaning. And don’t worry, we don’t expect you to wash each one by hand, either.

First, determine the best care by looking at the care labels on each of your garments. If you have one that specifically instructs for dry-cleaning or special care, take note and make alternate plans for those to get their dirty out. Still not sure how to wash your sweater? Read on for best practices and tips to machine clean your cable-knits.


Detergent Choices

You don’t need any type of specialty detergent for your wools or other cozy knit fabrics. If you would like to keep your laundering products as streamlined as possible, go for an alcohol-free, mild detergent like Boulder Clean Laundry Detergent. Keep in mind, you need only a very small amount. A teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on load sizes, will have you covered. The worst thing you can do for your sweaters: over-detergent them.

How to Treat Stains

Is that ketchup on your sweater? Don’t freak out and dab like crazy-that will just make it worse. We recommend working a stain remover into the area before the next wash. But go easy with the application. If you’re scrubbing it with your fingers or a scrub brush, you’re going to have a visual result. You’re either going to disrupt the weave or cause it to be super fuzzy. Gently massaging it in will do the trick.

Mind Your Materials

As we stated before, there are some materials that just will never be a machine wash acceptable. Check the care labels and determine if they are machine-appropriate. If you have cashmere that you love, you may want to follow EXACTLY what it says in the instructions and we’re going to bet that’s a no-go for machine washing. Fast tip: natural materials tend to need cold water while man-made materials require warmer temperatures.

Water Temperature

Choose cold water for sweaters. Every. Time. Your machine builds certain temperatures into various cycles automatically (perhaps if you have a newer machine it allows you to customize your cycles) but long story short: use cold water throughout.

Choosing a Cycle

Depending on your machine, pick the shortest cycle length available. Some machines express time in actual minutes (look for one that’s 4-15,) while others define these cycles as light, normal, heavy, etc. The lighter, the better. You may want to experiment through your next few washes to figure out what works best with your machine and for you!


Air Dry. Air Dry. Air Dry. Always. We don’t care if you need that sweater in the next hour, you should have thought about that earlier. There is too much friction in your dyer, even on the delicate or air-dry setting, for your knits and sweaters. Simply lay your sweater flat (hanging can cause wet fibers to stretch so beware!) and allow to dry in its own time. You can speed things up by placing it near a window, fan or dehumidifier but don’t you dare pop it into your dryer.

Other Important Washing Tips

  • Even with your best work keeping care of your sweaters, they will still pill up and occasionally you’ll have a snag or a tear. Get an electric lint remover or a sweater shaver to remove those tiny pieces and make it feel like brand new.
  • Turn your sweaters inside out when washing. This will help keep the outside pretty and help detergent penetrate the inside that has been closest to your skin.
  • Keep in mind you can usually get away with washing a sweater every 4-5 uses (as long as you’re not stain-prone at least!)
  • For super delicates, place them into a washable garment bag before throwing them in the wash.
  • If all else fails—HAND WASH!


While washing or dry cleaning after every wear isn’t good for the yarns that make up your beloved sweaters, just how often you do is up to you. It depends on your rotation, if you wear undershirts, or if it’s a sweater that gets layered. If you have pile of sweaters in your closet that you don’t wear on heavy rotation, then once or twice a season is perfect.

Just like that, you’ve entered the world of long-lasting sweaters hopefully for seasons and seasons to come. Go forth and be cozy in your sweaters and remember—always play hard and clean easy with Boulder Clean.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!