When I was reading Knitting Without Tears, EZ said to wash your sweaters by hand-period. That you should treat them with love, like the work of art they are and be appreciative of the many manhours it took to create them. Thinking about that, I don't mind handwashing, it is almost reverent for me now. Anyway, she also said that you should soak them only touching them if there is a tough spot of dirt somewhere, drain, soak rinse and soak rinse again if there is still soap in the water. Seems to me a washing machine can't really deliver that. And honestly, it is surprisingly easy when you realize you don't have to "wash" them in the true sense of the word, just let them sit in some water for a while. I washed 4 sweaters and a scarf in my bathtub yesterday and aside from squeezing the water out between towels, it was very easy.