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How to Care for Wool Sweaters

by Willow Sidhe

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Woman in wool sweater and cap

Things You Need:

  • Garment brush
  • Stain remover
  • Poster board
  • Mild detergent
  • Cotton cloths
  • Clean towel

People have worn wool for thousands of years, especially in women's sweaters. Numerous types of wool exist, so there are many different ways to care for the fabric. In general, wool is meant to be dry cleaned. However, in many cases it can also be hand washed. Brushing, stain removal and proper storage are also important aspects of wool sweater care.

Wool Sweater Care:

  1. Remove soil and dirt from wool sweaters by brushing with a garment brush. Move the brush lengthwise along the sweater before and after each use for best results. Use a damp cotton cloth instead of a brush for men's wool sweaters and women's wool sweaters with a finer nap.

  2. Treat stains on wool sweaters immediately to prevent setting. Blot as much of the stain as possible from the sweater using a clean cotton cloth. Do not rub, as this can force the stain farther into the fabric. Use a laundry stain remover formulated for use on wool according to the manufacturer's instructions, or take the garment to a dry cleaner as soon as possible.

  3. Make a stencil of the sweater's original shape. Lay the sweater on a large piece of poster board and trace its shape before washing. When washed, wool loses its shape and must be reshaped while drying. A stencil will help you reshape the sweater correctly and prevent it from drying in the wrong shape.

  4. Use a mild detergent to wash wool. Fill a sink or small bucket with warm water and add one or two tablespoons of detergent formulated for use on wool. Place the sweater into the water and gently squeeze with your hands for about three minutes. Do not wring or agitate the sweater but allow the detergent and water to penetrate its fibers.

  5. Rinse the sweater thoroughly with cool water to remove all the detergent. Gently squeeze with your hands to remove any excess water and then place the sweater on a clean towel. Roll up the sweater in the towel to absorb any water.

  6. Place the sweater on the stencil you created earlier. Pat the garment out to its correct shape and allow it to air dry. Never hang wool sweaters to dry or place them in direct sunlight. If you're having trouble getting a sweater dry, aim a small fan toward it to expedite the process.

  7. Brush sweaters thoroughly after washing and drying. Store in an airtight bag or container in a cool, dry place. You may also hang wool sweaters on padded hangers in zip-up garment bags, if necessary.

Tips and Warnings:

  1. Wrapping paper or any other large piece of paper may be used to trace the shape of the wool sweater if poster board is not available.

  2. Wash wool sweaters by hand once per season or whenever necessary.

  3. Always check the label on wool garments before washing. If the label says "dry clean only," do not attempt to wash by hand. You risk losing color, shape and texture if the garment has not been treated for washing. Take it to the dry cleaner once or twice a year, or any time it becomes soiled, to preserve the integrity of the garment.

  4. Never wash wool sweaters in hot water, and never put them in a washing machine or dryer. Hang only on padded hangers. They retain their shape best if folded.

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