knitted sweaters

How To Wash Hand-Knitted Items 

By learning how to properly hand-wash your knitted items, you can preserve their quality, texture, and shape, ensuring they last for years to come.

In this article, we’ll take you through the steps to hand-wash your knitted items with care, so you can enjoy wearing them for seasons to come.


Can You Put Knitwear in the Washing Machine?

Wool sweater in washing machine

If you want to ensure the longevity of your knitwear, it is generally recommended to avoid washing it in the washing machine.

Machine washing can cause agitation and friction, which can damage delicate knit fibres and cause them to lose their shape or shrink.

Additionally, the hot water and harsh detergents commonly used in washing machines can be damaging to delicate knit fabrics.

However, some knitwear items may be machine-washable, depending on the fibre and construction of the garment.

Check the care label on your garment before washing to determine if it is safe to wash in a machine.

If the label states that the item is machine-washable, use a gentle cycle with cold water and a mild laundry detergent designed for delicate fabrics.

It’s also important to place the item in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect it from excessive agitation.

If your knitwear item is not machine-washable, it’s best to wash it by hand using a gentle detergent and following the appropriate hand-washing technique.


Why Do You Need to Be Careful with Knitted Items?

sweater care label

Knitted items are often made from delicate fibres, such as wool, cashmere, silk or alpaca wool, and require special care to maintain their quality.

Understanding the structure and materials of your knitted items is essential for ensuring that you handle them with care during washing.

Firstly, it’s important to identify any care labels that are attached to your knitted items.

Care labels provide important information about the materials used, as well as the recommended washing instructions.

Care labels can also give you additional guidance on the types of laundry detergent or fabric softeners to use, as well as the water temperature and drying methods.

On top of this, it’s important to consider the structure of your knitted items. Knitted fabrics are formed by interlocking loops of yarn, which creates a stretchy and flexible texture.

However, this structure also means that knitted items can easily lose their shape if not cared for correctly.

Acrylic sweaters

Different types of knitted items may require different care methods.

For example, a delicate lace shawl may require more gentle washing than a thick wool jumper. Understanding the unique requirements of each item is key to keeping it in pristine condition.

Finally, the materials used in knitted items also require special care. Natural fibres such as wool, cashmere or silk can shrink, stretch or become damaged if washed using harsh chemicals or high temperatures.

Synthetic fibres such as acrylic, polyester or nylon may also require special care, such as avoiding high temperatures or using specific detergents to prevent pilling or static.

By taking some time to consider the material of you knitted item, you can ensure that you are using the right washing and drying techniques to maintain their quality and durability.


Preparing to Hand-Wash Knitted Items

wool sweaters and laundry detergent pods

Before you begin hand-washing your knitted items, it’s important to take a few steps to prepare.

This will help to ensure that you have all the necessary materials on hand and that you can wash your items with care.

1. Gather necessary materials

To begin, gather all the materials you will need for handwashing your knitted items. This may include a mild or wool wash laundry detergent, a basin or sink, and a towel for drying.

You may also want to have a fabric softener on hand, particularly for items made from natural fibres.


2. Sort knitted items by colour and type

Take a moment to separate your knitted items by colour and type.

This will help to prevent colours from bleeding onto each other during the wash, and will ensure that items with different washing requirements are washed separately.

For example, items made from delicate fibres such as cashmere or silk should be washed separately from heavier items such as wool jumpers or blankets.


3. Check for stains or spots

Before washing your knitted items, check for any stains or spots that may need pre-treatment. If you notice any stains or spots, treat them with a stain remover or spot cleaner prior to washing.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label, and test the product on a small area of the item first to ensure that it does not damage the fabric.


Hand-Washing Knitwear Step-By-Step

Washing wool sweater by hand

Step 1: Fill a bowl or sink with lukewarm water

Begin by filling a clean basin or sink with lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water, as this can cause wool and other delicate fibres to shrink or felt.


Step 2: Add a mild or wool-wash detergent

Add a mild detergent or wool wash detergent to the water, according to the instructions on the product label.

Avoid using harsh detergents or bleach, as these can damage the delicate fibres of your knitted items. It’s recommended to use a mild laundry detergent when washing hand-knitted items.

For wool fibres, opt for a laundry detergent specifically formulated for wool, such as Woolite or Eucalan.

These detergents contain lanolin, a natural oil produced by sheep that helps protect wool fibres and enhances wool’s water-resistance.

This type of detergent is suitable for all hand-knit items, including those made with synthetic yarns.


Step 3: Submerge your knitted items

Gently submerge your knitted items into the water, taking care not to agitate or wring them. Allow the items to soak for a few minutes, to loosen any dirt or grime that may be trapped in the fibres.

washing sweater


Step 4: Gently cleanse your knitted items

Using a gentle, squeezing motion, cleanse your knitted items in the soapy water. Take care not to rub or scrub them, as this can cause the fibres to stretch or lose their shape.


Step 5: Rinse your knitted items

Drain the soapy water and refill the basin or sink with fresh lukewarm water. Gently submerge your knitted items in the water and swish them around to remove any remaining detergent or soap.

Repeat this step if necessary, until the water runs clear.


Step 6: Remove excess water

To remove excess water from your knitted items, gently press them against the side of the basin or sink. Avoid twisting or wringing them, as this can damage the fibres.

By following this hand-washing technique, you can ensure that your knitted items are cleaned with care, preserving their quality and durability for years to come.

Keep reading to learn how we recommend drying your knitted items to preserve their shape.


How to Dry Knitted Items

hanging knitted clothes

After handwashing your knitted items, it’s important to dry them properly to prevent damage to the fibres. Here are some tips for drying your knitted items:

Lay items flat

When drying your knitted items, it’s important to lay them flat on a clean, dry towel. This will help to preserve their shape and prevent stretching or distortion.

Avoid hanging them up, as this can cause the weight of the water to stretch the fibres and cause them to lose their shape.


Reshape items

While laying your items flat to dry, take the time to gently reshape them into their original form. This will help to ensure that they dry in the correct shape and size.

You can use your hands to gently stretch or shape the items, taking care not to pull or tug too hard on the fibres.

drying handknitted gloves in radiator


Avoid direct sunlight or heat

When drying your knitted items, avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a source of heat, such as a radiator or tumble dryer.

Direct heat can cause the fibres to shrink or become brittle, and can damage the overall quality of the item.


Allow sufficient drying time

Ensure that your knitted items are completely dry before storing them away. This will help to prevent the growth of mould or mildew, and will ensure that the fibres remain fresh and clean.

The time it takes for your garment to dry will depend on the thickness and weight of the item.

By following these drying techniques, you can ensure that your knitted items dry properly and maintain their shape and quality for years to come.


Caring for Handknitted Items

folding handknitted items

After washing and drying your knitted items, it’s important to take some additional steps to maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan. Here are some tips for looking after handknitted items.

Store them correctly

When storing your knitted items, ensure that they are clean and completely dry.

Fold them neatly and place them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat. You can also add some cedar balls or lavender sachets to your storage space to help deter moths and other pests.


Avoid hanging them up

Avoid hanging your knitted items for long periods of time, as this can cause them to stretch or lose their shape. Instead, fold them neatly and store them in a drawer or on a shelf.


Handle with care

When wearing or handling your knitted items, take care to avoid snagging or pulling on the fibres.

Avoid wearing them in situations where they may be subjected to heavy wear and tear, such as gardening or other manual activities.


Avoid frequent washing

Try not to wash your knitted items too frequently, as this can cause the fibres to become weak and worn.

Instead, spot clean them as necessary and only wash them when they are visibly dirty or stained.

By following these aftercare tips, you can ensure that your knitted items remain clean, fresh, and in excellent condition for years to come.



handknitted baby shoes

In conclusion, hand-knitted items can be both beautiful and practical, but they require special care to maintain their quality and longevity.

Now that you have an understanding for your knitted items, correctly handwashing and following appropriate drying and aftercare techniques, you can ensure that your knitted items remain in excellent condition for years to come.

Taking the time to care for your knitted items not only ensures their continued use and enjoyment, but also helps to reduce the environmental impact of constant replacement.