Tis' the season to wear chunky woolens and soft cashmere sweaters. The label says "Dry clean only," but you want to save time and money...and maybe even wear your favorite sweater again tomorrow. Next time it needs cleaning, instead of dropping it off, scheduling a pick-up, and missing your comfy sweater, wash it in the washing machine. Fear not! Your sweater should not shrink like the one in this picture!
After much brow knitting and web-surfing for information, I decided to wash a 2-ply cashmere sweater with a silk collar in the washing machine. In the past, this sweater has endured repeated pressings and toxic chemicals, so I thought I'd chance it. Yes, there are those who will only hand wash, but the dripping water, soaked towels, and drying time involved puts a wet blanket on this household activity. FYI: All items mentioned for this project are available in the ads below for your convenience. Note: I am an Amazon Associate and an Amazon Influencer, read more at my Blog Ethics page, paragraph 6.
Let's unravel how to try the not-so-scientific sweater experiment that works!
1. Button, zip, snap, or tie any parts that need connecting. Then turn the sweater inside out. NOTE: Do NOT turn inside out IF the sweater has appliques, like beads, sequins, rhinestones, rosettes, etc.
2. Put it in a white, or very well-worn, clean cotton pillowcase (no worries about dyes if it is white, if not, be sure it is color-fast [has been washed many times] and it is a porous woven cotton).
3. Use a new, white cotton shoe-lace to tie the pillowcase closed -- wrap it around a few times and make a secure bow. TIP: The thicker the string, and with knots on each end, makes it easier to pull closed, AND then to unknot it after washing. [I use a white cotton braided string off of a department store shopping bag!]
4. Throw in a few similar colored, lightweight hand towels to "cushion" the sweater in the machine. [Bonus: save time and energy doing other laundry that goes into the dryer.]
5. Only using the "Delicate/Hand Wash" cycle, set water to Cold/Cold or Cool/Cool temperature.
6. Do NOT use softener. [Not sure why, but this is what most of the research advised.]
7. Do NOT use bleach!
8. Conventional Woolite or a cashmere soap aren't necessary…I regularly use Avalon Organics Lavender Shampoo for this task. Add about 2 Tablespoons to a small load; this is plenty to make a nice natural lather. [I also read that baby shampoo can be used - but I haven't tried this option to confirm results.] NOTE: I also successfully tested sweaters using regular liquid laundry detergents by Seventh Generation & Mrs Meyer's (I prefer the lavender scents of these brands). Just be sure to use a small amount of detergent!
9. Remove from the machine as soon as the cycle is finished, take the sweater out of the pillowcase, block and let air dry on a flat, clean surface. [I use the top of a small laundry rack, put a towel under the sweater to avoid rack-lines. Drape the arms slightly over the sides and resting on top to avoid stretching, and support a collar on one of the rungs if needed. You can do the same thing on a table BUT be sure to turn it regularly because there is no air-flow like on a laundry rack.] NOTE: See comments for instructions on "blocking" and other tips!
10. After a few hours, turn the sweater right-side out. Re-block if necessary and leave to continue air-drying; also, gave it a quick shake to move the air around the fibers and put it back until it is dry. The sweater will keep its size and shape. The shampoo makes it soft and lavender scented!
Still unsure? Try this experiment with a cashmere sweater you can spare to lose. Let us know if it turns out well or knot...Good luck and keep warm!
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