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Sweater Weather How-To: Proper Sweater Care

Sweater care how to

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

This is a guest post from our partner, Clean NYC. Clean NYC is an attainable-luxury dry cleaning and laundry delivery service cleaning the essentials in your home – from your daily wardrobe to your linens. Clean is committed to providing top-quality cleaning at an affordable price to Manhattan, Long Island, and the Hamptons. With over 50 years of experience, Clean believes in a streamlined, sustainable process backed by stellar customer service. Learn more at

Sweater weather is upon us! There’s a chill in the air, and it’s time to break out the best part of our closets – our comfiest sweaters. Quality sweaters are an investment – they can get pricey, and they’re timeless staples for transitioning from fall to winter – so you want them to last. This year, COVID has ensured that we’ll be outside a little more than in the past, so we’ll be bundling up in our sweaters more often, with hopes they stay just as chic, warm and pretty as the day we bought them.

Look no further, sweater lovers. If cared for properly, your favorite sweaters can last many winters to come. We’re here to give you the low-down on sweater care so you can make the most out of sweater weather.

The Basics:

Whether it’s cashmere, chenille, or a chunky knit, you have to put in some effort to make them warm and comfy. Let’s start with the essentials on sweater care:

  1. Natural fabrics will usually last longer and keep better. If you’re looking to invest in a good sweater for a long time, natural fabrics are the way to go. Think: wool, cotton, cashmere and even silk!

  2. Conscious buyers: Natural fabrics are also a more sustainable option. They don’t require as many fossil fuels to create, and their durability means they won’t end up in landfills.

  3. You don’t need to wash sweaters after every wear – especially ones made from natural fibers. But, that still means proper storage and attention.

  4. Don’t hang your sweaters! Fold them and store them in your closet or dresser. Hangers can cause shoulder dimples and can also cause them to stretch out.

  5. Never delay cleaning if you happen to stain your sweaters. Always treat them immediately. You have to be careful about how you treat stains, though. You could make it worse and irreversible! When in doubt, send them to the cleaner (like Clean NYC, one of our favorites).

  6. Don’t substitute a gentle cycle for hand washing. Gentle cycles still cause friction, which can damage sensitive fabrics.

Different materials need different attention. Synthetic fabrics and natural fibers require wildly different care, so it’s important to read the labels carefully. Here’s a breakdown:

Wool Sweater Care

Perhaps the most iconic and common sweater type, wool sweaters truly have stood the test of time. Humans have been using wool in garments since 3,000 BCE – it’s something so consistent and durable we’ve used it for 5,000 years. How do we make sure we’re treating our wool right, though?

Wool doesn’t need to be washed too often because lanolin – the natural oil on wool fibers – is a natural microbial and fights odors. Just make sure you let it air out after each wear before you stick it in your drawer or closet.

For staining, there are several wool-specific detergents you can use for quick spot treatments. Dab on and dab off with cold water. Your best bet for a full wash is to hand wash it in lukewarm water with the same wool detergent. Massage it in a bit, then soak for 10 minutes. Rinse, then DO NOT ring the sweater out – roll it in a towel and lay flat to dry. And of course, when in doubt, send it to an expert so it doesn’t get worse!

Cashmere Sweater Care

Cashmere, made from fine goat hair, has similar washing instructions to wool – hand wash with a cashmere/wool detergent, soak, rinse. The difference? Cashmere is a little more delicate, so you have to take extra care when washing and drying. Cashmere can stretch very easily, so never hang it up or ring it out. Avoid any movement that could warp the fabric. Cleaning cashmere is an art, so be careful when taking care of yours.

Acrylic Sweater Care

Acrylic is meant to mimic wool, but without the stressful care. One question we get often is can you wash acrylic sweaters? Usually, you can just toss acrylic sweaters in the wash on a gentle cycle, and dry on very low heat. Still be careful, though, they can stretch out if hung up. It’s also recommended to wash it inside out in a mesh bag to avoid pilling.

Cotton Sweater Care

Cotton, the most common in our closets, is a pretty easy fabric, as you probably know. It can be washed more frequently than wool or cashmere, and doesn’t require hand washing. Toss it in the washer inside out (to avoid pilling) on a gentle cycle in cold water, and lay flat to dry. If you want to avoid wrinkles, you can throw it in the dryer for no more than 10 minutes, then continue to dry flat. Why only 10 minutes? Cotton shrinks easily, so it’s best to air dry.

Chenille Sweater Care

Chenille is unique and isn’t as durable as wool, but is a lot softer. It’s very easily agitated, so it’s recommended to avoid mechanical cleaning. Hand wash chenille with a mild detergent, and lay flat to dry. Never hang or ring out.

Sweaters pilled? Don’t panic!

This is almost an inevitability over time. But, it’s actually a simple fix. Grab a drug store razor and lightly drag it along the pilled fabric. Never pick the pills by hand – this can make it worse or cause unraveling.

Sweater care can be pretty meticulous. So, if you’re wary about it, send it to the cleaning experts at Clean NYC. They’ll make sure nothing goes awry. They know all the nitty-gritty details of what keeps your sweaters looking pandemic-outdoor-dining-ready – so your sweaters can go out on the town in future – more normal – sweater weathers.


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