Christmas jumpers are a must-have during the festive season. From cosy knitted sweaters to novelty pieces, there is a jumper for everyone.
But perhaps the most festive of them all are adorned with twinkling lights—these light-up masterpieces are a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit.
However, sweaters with lights require special care. Improper washing methods not only ruin the knit and damage the material, but also prevent the LED lights from working.
This is why we’ve put together this guide on how to wash a Christmas sweater with lights.
In this article, you’ll learn whether light-up jumpers can be washed and the best way to clean Christmas sweaters with lights so your jumper never loses its sparkle and shine!
Can You Wash Christmas Jumpers with Lights In?
Yes, all Christmas jumpers with lights in can be washed. However, different sweaters require different washing methods—some can be put in the washing machine, others are handwash-only, and some can only withstand spot-cleaning.
Therefore, before delving into the process of washing a Christmas jumper adorned with lights, the first question is whether these luminous garments can withstand the rigours of a washing cycle. The answer, as is often the case, is: it depends!
LED Christmas sweaters come in an array of designs with varying degrees of electrical complexity.
Some Christmas sweaters are equipped with fully removable light strands, whereas others have lights intricately woven into the fabric:
- Removable lights: The sweater can generally be laundered in your washing machine if the lights can be detached. You can wash the fabric separately by carefully removing the lights, ensuring a thorough cleanse without damaging the electrical components. This approach also addresses concerns about electrical safety during the washing process.
- Attached lights: Sweaters with lights woven into the fabric demand a more cautious approach. Washing such sweaters without removing the lights poses a higher risk of damaging both the delicate lights and the fabric itself. In these cases, opting for spot cleaning and gentle hand washing over machine washing is recommended.
Importantly, you should never assume that your Christmas jumper is machine washable, even if it has detachable lights.
Many jumpers are made from materials like wool, and putting woollen jumpers in a washing machine can cause shrinking and snagging.
Likewise, washing hand-knitted items in a washer can cause damage.
Therefore, the best way to know whether your Christmas jumper can be washed in the machine is by checking the garment’s care label.
This label provides washing information based on the fabric and electrical components, ensuring no damage will come to your festive sweater. And if in doubt, stick with washing your jumper by hand.
How Do You Wash an LED Christmas Sweater?
Once you’ve checked the care label and know whether your light-up jumper is safe for machine washing, you can start the cleaning process.
Here is our preferred step-by-step process for washing an LED Christmas sweater safely and effectively.
Step 1: Preparation
Before putting your Christmas sweater anywhere near water, disconnect the battery pack or unplug the sweater from any power source. Safety is paramount!
If possible, you should also gently detach any removable light strands or decorations at this stage. This helps prevent tangling and potential damage during washing.
For sweaters with woven lights that cannot be removed, keep them in place and continue with the steps below.
Step 2: Spot cleaning
Minor stains or spills can often be addressed through spot cleaning using a mild laundry detergent and water on a soft cloth or sponge.
Mix a little detergent with cool water and wet your sponge or cloth, then use this to blot the material gently.
Avoid saturating the fabric when spot-cleaning, particularly around the lights, as excess moisture could lead to electrical issues.
It’s also vital to blot the fabric rather than rub the material—rubbing can cause any stains to spread and cause damage to the fibres.
Step 3: Washing
You can wash the entire jumper if your Christmas sweater with lights needs a deeper clean. The easiest way to do this is in the washing machine, but if you’re washing a “hand wash only” sweater, putting it in the washer is a definite no-go.
To handwash your Christmas jumper with lights, follow the steps below. Or, for a more detailed walkthrough, read our guide on handwashing clothes.
- Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of hand-washing laundry detergent. Submerge the sweater briefly, gently agitating the water.
- For stains not removed from spot-cleaning, use a soft cloth or sponge to gently blot the affected areas. Rinse with clean water, ensuring the lights (if attached) are not submerged.
- After rinsing, gently press the water out of the fabric using your hands. Avoid wringing your Christmas sweater, as this can stress the lights’ connections.
- Lay the sweater on a clean, dry towel and roll it up to remove excess water.
If machine washing is permissible, you can instead chuck your LED jumper into the washing machine.
However, hand washing is also our preferred method even for “machine-safe” jumpers, especially for sweaters with integrated lights due to safety concerns.
If you do decide to use your washing machine, always use a delicate cycle with cold water to avoid damage to the material or electrical components.
You should also place the sweater in a mesh laundry bag for added protection, and be sure to skip fabric softeners and bleach.
Step 4: Drying
Reattaching the battery pack and turning the lights on while the sweater is damp is a safety risk. Therefore, thorough air drying is crucial for preventing damage to the lights.
Proper drying is also vital in caring for the material, as putting your Christmas jumper into storage while damp can cause it to grow mould or start to smell.
Below is the best method for air-drying your Christmas sweater with lights to keep it in top condition:
- Immediately after washing your sweater, reshape it while damp to maintain its fit. Avoid wringing it out, as this can damage the material and the electrics.
- Rather than putting the jumper in the tumble dryer or on a clothes airer, lay the sweater flat on a clean, dry towel. The towel helps to absorb excess moisture from the fabric while ensuring the jumper maintains its shape.
- Keep the sweater away from direct sunlight and heat sources while drying, which can damage the material. If you need to speed up the drying process, use a cool air setting on a hairdryer held at a safe distance.
Step 5: Reattaching lights and battery packs
Only once the sweater is dry is it safe to reattach light strands or battery packs as instructed by the manufacturer.
Secure any loose wires to prevent damage during wear, and test the lights before wearing your sweater to ensure they function correctly.
Tips for Washing a Christmas Sweater with Lights
Our step-by-step process on how to wash a Christmas jumper with lights has covered a lot of information.
So, here are the take-home points and some additional care tips:
- Remove the lights if you can – If your jumper has removable lights, always detach them before washing the sweater. For jumpers with LEDs woven into the material, ensure you remove the battery pack.
- Check the care label – Always check the care label for your Christmas sweater to see if it’s safe for machine washing. If in doubt, handwash your jumper to avoid damage.
- Spot-clean first – Always see if you can spot-clean your jumper before washing the entire garment. As Christmas jumpers are novelty pieces, spot-cleaning is often sufficient.
- Deal with spills immediately – If you accidentally spill anything on your sweater, spot-treat the marks immediately. The sooner you act, the easier they are to remove from the fabric.
- Use cold or lukewarm water – When washing your festive sweater, use a cold wash cycle or lukewarm water for handwashing to prevent damage to the lights and material.
- Reshape while wet – Reshape your Christmas sweater while wet and always lay it flat while drying to help it maintain its shape. Only attach the lights/battery pack once thoroughly dry.
Washing a Christmas sweater with lights can be a stress-free task. Take the time to understand your sweater’s design and follow our washing and drying techniques to ensure that your LED Christmas sweater remains a part of your holiday wardrobe for years to come!
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.