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Caring for your sweaters

Matthew Wiltshire, owner of Lapels Dry Cleaning at 246 East Main Street in Norton, offers tips on caring for sweaters.

Everyone loves putting on a favorite sweater on a brisk winter morning. Sweaters, when properly cared for, can bring years of comfortable luxury and beauty. People often have the mistaken impression that caring for sweaters is tricky and difficult. It’s actually fairly simple.

Because sweaters are made from so many different types of fibers and fabrics, it is recommended that you read the instructions on the care label before cleaning them by hand, by machine, or by dry cleaning.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is a fairly easy process and does not take long. You can use baby shampoo to hand wash your sweaters. Here are some tips: 

  • Turn your sweater inside out to protect the outside surface fibers from pulling.
  • Fill the sink with tepid or warm water, add a small amount of natural detergent and mix in lightly but not enough to create suds.
  • Place the sweater in the water and gently push it under until it is completely wet. 
  •  Let soak for 20 minutes. This will allow the water and detergent to penetrate all the fibers of the sweater. 
  • Avoid kneading or rolling the sweater around. Too much handling while the sweater is wet can cause stretching and pulling. 
  • Let the soapy water out of the sink and run fresh tap water over the sweater until all bubbles are gone. 
  • Allow the sweater to drain for a few minutes and squeeze very lightly. 
  • Lay the sweater out flat on a towel and roll the towel. Press to remove the excess moisture. 
  • Place the sweater on a towel on a flat surface and reshape it gently - button cardigans, roll collars into place, and straighten sleeves. 
  • Let your sweaters dry overnight laying flat on a towel. Turn over, reshape, and leave to dry. Drying time can take up to 72 hours depending on the thickness of the sweater and the humidity in the air.

Not every sweater must be washed by hand. The care label on the sweater will tell you whether your sweater can be machine washed or dried. Sweaters that can be machine or hand washed should either be tumble dried at low temperatures or laid flat to dry. If you must dry your sweater on a clothes line, place a pair of pantyhose through the arms of the sweater and pin the hose, rather than the cuffs, to the line.

If after your knitted sweater dries you need to take out wrinkles, turn the garment inside out and put a damp cloth between the iron. Never iron 100% acrylic yarn - it flattens and stretches the yarn fiber forever. Steam acrylic garments to remove any wrinkles. 

In terms of everyday care, it is best to keep sweaters folded in a drawer, on a shelf or over padded hangers rather than hanging from the shoulders. The weight of the sweater will cause it to stretch.

Of course, when in doubt, if you’re uncomfortable with cleaning your sweater, please bring it by your local dry cleaner and they can best advise you. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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