How to Wash Sweaters by Hand

Washing your sweaters by hand is a great way to get them clean and fresh without the risk of stretching or shrinking them in the washing machine. While it takes a bit of time, washing them by hand with a gentle detergent can extend the life of your sweaters and help them maintain their shape, making it well worth the effort.[1]


[Edit]Setting Up Your Washing Station

  1. Separate the sweaters by color if youre washing more than one. Dark-colored dyes can bleed a bit when youre hand-washing, so youd likely have to change the water before moving on to the light colors if you washed the darks first.[2] Therefore, if youre hand-washing more than one sweater and the sweaters vary in color, separate them into two piles one for light colors and one for dark. That way, once youre ready to wash, youll already have them separated so you can easily wash the light-colored pile first.[3]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 1.jpg
    • In most cases, youll be able to use the same wash set-up for all the sweaters as long as you wash the light colors first.
  2. Turn the sweater(s) that youre washing inside-out. Before hand-washing your sweater, reach up into the sweater and pull the sleeves through to flip it so that the inside is facing out. This will minimize friction while you wash, keeping the outside of the sweater from pilling.[4]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 2.jpg
    • If youre hand-washing more than one sweater, repeat this for all of the sweaters youre washing.
  3. Fill up a clean sink with room temperature water. First, wipe down your sink with an all-purpose cleaning wipe or spray and a paper towel. Rinse the sink with water to remove any cleaner residue. Then, fill the sink with room temperature water.[5]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 3.jpg
    • While warm water tends to be more effective at removing stains, it could make the dyes in your sweater bleed or cause the sweater to shrink after you wash.[6]
    • You can also use a shallow plastic or enamel wash basin.[7]
  4. Add about of a gentle detergent to the water. Pour of low-alkaline laundry detergent or baby shampoo into the filled sink or wash basin. Swish the detergent around in the water until its combined and the water is sudsy.[8]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 4.jpg
    • While you can measure, the amount of detergent doesnt need to be precise here youll just need enough detergent so that the water gets sudsy.
    • If youre washing a particularly large or thick sweater, or multiple sweaters, you can add a bit more detergent, about .[9]
    • Low-alkaline detergents and baby shampoo are gentler on fabrics than high-alkaline detergents. Therefore, its particularly important that you choose a low-alkaline detergent when hand-washing cashmere, wool, or any other delicate fabric.[10]
  5. Mix in white vinegar if you want to neutralize odors. If the sweater(s) youre washing smell as a result of perspiration, stains, or any other reason, mix of white vinegar into the detergent water. Swish the vinegar around until its combined.[11]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 5.jpg

[Edit]Cleaning Your Sweaters

  1. Place one sweater in the soapy water and swirl it around. First, push the sweater down into the water to make sure that its completely submerged. Then, use your hands to gently swirl it around in the water in a circular motion for about 2 minutes.[12]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 6.jpg
    • Make sure that you dont pull, tug, or rub the fabric together, as this can cause the sweater to lose its shape.[13]
    • If youre washing more than one sweater, make sure that you start with a light-colored sweater first.[14]
  2. Leave the sweater to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. This will give the detergent time to seep into the fabric and break down any stains. If the sweater is particularly dirty or has a stubborn stain, you may want to gently swish it around every so often to stir up the detergent.[15]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 7.jpg
  3. Remove the sweater from the water and squeeze out the excess water. After letting it soak, lift the sweater out of the water and hold it over the sink or washbasin. Ball or roll it up loosely, then squeeze it very gently to remove some of the excess water.[16]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 8.jpg
    • Make sure that you dont twist the sweater to wring it out, as this can stretch it out.[17]

[Edit]Drying the Sweaters

  1. Roll the sweater in a clean towel to start to dry. Lay out a clean towel on a flat surface. Then, lay the sweater on top of the towel, making sure that it doesnt hang over the sides of the towel anywhere. Starting at the top, slowly roll the towel with the sweater inside. Press down lightly on the roll to get the towel to absorb more water, then slowly unroll the towel and sweater back open.[18]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 9.jpg
    • At this point, if the towel has gotten really soaked, you may want to replace it with a dry towel to speed up the drying process.
  2. Leave the sweater to dry completely. If the sweater appears wrinkly at all, use your hand to smooth out it out as much as possible. Then, leave the sweater to lay on the towel until its completely dry and ready to be worn.[19]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 10.jpg
    • If youre washing more than one sweater, you can start repeating this process to wash another sweater while the first sweater is drying.[20]
    • Instead of a towel, you can also lay the sweater out to dry on a drying rack.
  3. Fluff the sweater in the dryer if the fabric is dryer-safe. First, check the tag of the sweater to make sure that the fabric is dryer-safe. If it is, you can use the dryer to finish drying the sweater and fluff it up. To do this, keep the sweater inside-out and put it in the dryer on a low spin, low heat cycle to keep it from shrinking. Let it tumble dry for a few minutes, depending on how damp it was when you put it in.[21]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 11.jpg
    • Generally, sweaters made out of cotton, acrylic, polyester, and linen are dryer-safe.
  4. Use a steamer to remove any wrinkles. Once the sweater is dry, you can use a steamer to remove any wrinkles left from the hand-washing process. To steam the sweater, hang it up on a hanger or lay it out on a flat surface. Then, run the steamer down the sweater in long strokes, making sure that you put the steamer on the right fabric setting.[22]
    Wash Sweaters by Hand Step 12.jpg
    • If you steamed the sweater on a hanger, youll likely want to remove it from the hanger after so that the sweater doesnt get any shoulder bump indentions from the hanger.[23]

[Edit]Things Youll Need

  • Sink or shallow washbasin
  • Water
  • Low-alkaline detergent or baby shampoo
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Flat surface for drying
  • Clean towel(s)
  • Drying rack (optional)
  • Steamer