Washing woollen garments

OK - so I’ve got a few handknitted items of clothing, a couple of vests, and a couple of sweaters and a hoodie.

All of these are made using natural fibres: some just wool, others with combinations of wool and alpaca and one with a small about of synthetic.

We have an amazing front loading washing machine by Ariston, which has a “wool approved” cycle.

I’ve not been game yet, should it? I was thinking, if I do, of using soap flakes “melted” in warm water into the bowl.

Waiting, with baited breath, pearls of wisdom from the gals.

Before you toss some (or all) of your masterpieces into your fancy new washing machine, I would take the time to knit up some swatches using the same yarns as what’s in your garments and wash those first. If they come out to your satisfaction, then go for it.

I would [U]hate[/U] for you to mess up all your hard work in one fell swoop (or in one “swell foop,” whichever you choose). That’s my two cents worth!

What Antares said. I’ve washed my superwash wool socks in a washing machine but the yarn said it’s OK and I tried a swatch first. My daughter has a Miele front loader that would probably do OK with some woolen garments, but if it says hand wash I’d only try it in any machine after doing swatches and maybe not then. That’s some really nice yarn you’ve used, not to mention the hours, days, weeks that you spent on knitting your jumpers and vests.

I don’t think I’d chance it. Too much hard work, learning and love went goes into garments to chance them pilling or felting. I’d hand wash in a special wash (I use Eucalan) and gently blot or roll in a towel and air dry.

I slightly felted a sweater once in my machine and that did it. All the sweat and tears (not so much blood) that went into it! I’ve handwashed even superwash ever since.

Ok so you’ve all spooked me out of this path, thank god. How about taking to the Dry Cleaner? Is that, also, an option for woollens?

Personally I wouldn’t since they use chemicals and you never have control of it once you leave.

I wash delicate knits in my machine in cold water on the gentlest setting. Then, I spin them an extra time, to get out as much moisture as I can. Next, I take them out and lay them to dry on a sweater drying rack. No problems.

My washer has a ‘gentle’ setting, supposedly for knits. It’s basically a short agitation, long soak, and gentle spin. I let it fill and add some wool wash, let it agitate to disperse the soap, then put the sweaters in. I push them up and down with my hands a bit, but [I]don’t[/I] let the machine agitate them.

After I let them soak for a while (as in when I remember that they’re in there) I let the machine spin them out.

Then I just take them out and let them dry on racks, and if the racks all are full, lay the sweaters out on towels and flip them occasionally.

I think the hardest part of hand washing is getting out enough of the water to expect them to dry within the month, so the spinning of the machine takes care of that.

For what it’s worth. My daughter bought a brand new top of the line HE washer and dryer a few months ago. She uses cloth diapers and wool covers knit by me for the baby. Even with the fancy machine, she still hand washes these. We found out several things. Diaper covers made with 100% wool have extraordinary properties that enable them to keep the baby dry. Superwash wool contains some acrylic. We know because they don’t keep the baby dry like 100% wool. You don’t need to buy a special detergent for washing wool. Our aim, of course, is to preserve or restore the naturally occurring moisture repellent in wool. You don’t need to spend a lot of money buying special soap online. We use baby shampoo with a few drops of liquid lanolin added. You can get lanolin at any pharmacy. It’s frequently sold as a moisturizer for nursing mothers. You can handwash your sweaters and hang them on plastic hangers in the shower to drip dry.

You can handwash your sweaters and hang them on plastic hangers in the shower to drip dry.

Don’t they stretch out when you do that?

My thought, too. I would lay flat.

Have you run the wool approved cycle to see what it does? Maybe it would be OK for some things. You could try something you intended to felt anyhow in it. Front loaders don’t agitate the way top loaders do, they are so much gentler on the clothes. I miss the one I used to have.

I use the same method Ingrid does to remove water. 10-20seconds in the spin cycle doesn’t hurt the sweater or blanket and you’ll have it dry in a couple of days.

Great info from one and all! I appreciate the multitude of opinions and methods of washing our knitted items.

That said, the only thing I would ever put in the washer (gently cycle) would be something I just simply cannot hand wash. Something huge, like a hand-knitted wool blanket or afghan. Great tips from our mods and members!

I also wait for hot weather to hand wash any of my hand knit garments. The lay-flat-to-dry part is almost complete in one hot afternoon.

Oh, yeah, I’ve dried my blankets draped across the hammock–a nice dry breeze works wonders!

I want a hammock! :waah: