How to Wash and Maintain Wool Sweaters – Laundry Hacks
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How to Wash and Maintain Wool Sweaters – Laundry Hacks

December 26, 2019

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette, in
today’s video we’re going to discuss some techniques you’ll need to know in order to
easily wash it home what some people consider to be a fairly temperamental garment, wool
sweaters. This video is part of a series we’re doing
on garment care, the first video in the series dealt with how to get that musty smell out
of vintage clothing. You can take a look at that video here. Also, stay tuned for further parts in the
series that deal with some cheap and easy laundry hacks you can use and also most importantly,
how to get stains out of any kind of garment. The topic today then is how to take care of
your wool sweaters and other wool garments. First of all, wool doesn’t actually need to
be washed very often as the lanolin oils that are present in the wool make it naturally
anti-microbial. So as long as your wool garments are only
subjected to average wear and you give them a little bit of time to air out in between
wearings, you won’t actually have to put them through your washing machine or hand wash
them all that often. In those situations where you do think that
a wash would be best however, fight the impulse to take your wool garments to the dry cleaner. The solvents that are used in dry cleaning
are eventually harsh on wool fibres and will break them down overtime. Why are most people so apprehensive to wash
wool at home the, common knowledge seems to be that wool will shrink if it’s exposed to
water, heat, detergents or other factors. Here though are two essential truths, one
about washing and the other about wool. Firstly, what’s actually doing most of the
washing when you wash your clothing is having water pass over and between the fibres of
your clothing. The detergent that you use in your washing
machine is acting as a surfactant. Essentially, it is making the water more slippery
so that it can more easily get between the fibres of your clothing. In other words, the water is doing the work
of the washing, not the detergent. Second, here is something you actually may
find mind blowing about wool. It does not actually shrink in the laundering
process. Rather, as the wool fibers are agitated back
and forth and move around during washing especially during drying, they lock closer and closer
together creating another material that you may also have heard of, felt. Sometimes, of course, felting wool can be
a good thing such as in the process for making traditional men’s hats. But of course, you do not want your sweaters
to end up the same way. On that note, you can check out our playlist
on men’s hats located here. Furthermore, though, the majority of felting
is not going to take place in the washing machine since water will be in between most
of the individual fibers. Rather, where felting occurs most often is
in the dryer as the clothes are dry, hot, and being constantly agitated. So ultimately then, the primary thing to focus
on whenever you are washing wool is just to prevent felting. This is true for either of the two techniques
we are about to show you. With that in mind then, hand-washing your
wool sweaters is the safest method for cleaning them so it is the method we will go over first. To get started, add two capfuls of a gentle
cleaning agent like wool and cashmere shampoo to a container of room temperature water. Turn the sweater you are going to wash inside
out, submerge it in the water, and gently agitate it with your hands so that the cleaning
agent is thoroughly worked through.Then soak the sweater for at least ten minutes and up
to half an hour. After you’ve done this, you can rinse the
sweater by running cool water through it and when the water is no longer soap, you’ll know
that the garment is thoroughly rinsed. Before drying the rest of the way, you can
take some of the excess water out of the sweater by applying gentle pressure. Keep in mind that you should never wring out
a wool sweater as the excessive agitation is definitely going to distort the fibres
and might have the potential to cause ” some felting. By the way, if you see any visible colour
in your basin of water, don’t worry. The garment has just released some of the
excess dye that it had put into it and you’re not going to see any visible loss of colour
in the garment when you wear it again. Since the full drying process is the same
for both of the washing methods we’re going to show you today, We’ll come back to it in
a minute. First we’re going to illustrate the technique
necessary for how to machine wash your wool sweaters. Yes, you heard me correctly. First, turn your sweater inside out as before. Roll it up as tightly as you can, don’t bunch
it but roll it, and then put it inside of a mesh washing bag which should also be rolled
as tightly as possible and secured with a safety pin if necessary. This preparation is done with felting in mind,
simply stated if the sweater is rolled up tightly, it’s not going to move around and
it’s not going to come into contact with other garments’ fibres or really with its own fibres
to a certain extent. Therefore, the risk of felting is greatly
minimized. Also we turned it inside out because if any
felting or pilling does happen to occur, it’s only going to be visible inside of the sweater,
not the outside. Putting wool items into their own mesh bags
is also beneficial for your washing machine as felt fuzz from loose wool items could clog
up the machine’s working. Therefore, having things in mesh bags is good
for your garments and your machine. Next, add the appropriate amount of wool and
cashmere shampoo, depending both on the size of the machine as well as the load in question. Also, you don’t have to worry about using
the delicate or woolen cycle on the machine or worry about spin speed. As long as you’ve got the wool sweater tightly
compacted inside the mesh bag and the bag itself is also tightened down, the express
cycle on the machine will be just fine. And here’s another about water temperature,
the washing machine industry standard for what’s considered cold water is actually closer
to what will be in your machine if you select the warm setting, rather than the cold water
that most residences can tap into. Also, truly cold water doesn’t do a very good
job of activating detergent, so using warm will be your best bet. Once the washing machine is finished, promptly
remove your garments both from the machine and from their mesh bags to reduce creasing. Now let’s cover drying, as we mentioned before,
don’t use your dryer. Remember, that’s the location where felting
is most likely to occur. Rather what you should do is lay out your
garments flat on a drying rack and leave them there to dry. You can also speed up this drying process
a bit by taking an item and laying it flat on a clean towel. With the garments in its natural shape, roll
up the towels slowly like a sleeping bag using gentle pressure to get out some of that excess
water. Wait a few moments, unroll the towel and then
put the garment on the rack as normal. While your sweater is on the drying rack,
you can reshape or block it using gentle pressure with your hands. Once you’ve gotten into the shape you desire,
just leave it on the rack and then it should dry that way. Avoid placing your garments in direct sunlight
or near heat sources like a radiator because this could increase the risk of yellowing
as well as shrinkage. Also, you should never hang your wool garments
to dry them because gravity will pull on the water that’s left in the garment, unevenly
spreading out the fibres and distorting the garments overtime. Using a drying rack is your best course of
action. The process for washing really is that simple. Next up, let’s cover a few maintenance tips
for your wool sweaters. To get wrinkles out of your wool garments,
it’s best to use a garment steamer rather than an iron as the heat and pressure from
an iron will be more likely to distort the natural structure of the fibres. If pilling has occurred, you can take a sweater
comb and gently run it across the surface of the fabric in one direction only to remove
the pills effectively. Also, using a clothes brush in between wears
is an easy way to get rid of lint, fuss, and hair and also to release some of those lanolin
oils that keep the sweater looking its best. And if you have been hanging to an old sweater
that shrunk in the laundry, there is a way to bring these old sweaters back to life. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a container
of hot water, submerge the sweater and swish it around as with the hand washing process
we laid out before and then leave the garment to soak in that container overnight. The next day, take the sweater out of the
container, lay it flat, and block it as desired, and then leave it to dry completely. After it is thoroughly dried, you can wash
it as normal using the techniques we outlined here. Finally today, let us talk about sweater storage. Woolen knitwear should always be stored folded
to prevent stretching or distortion of the fibres. Also, woolen cashmere are susceptible to insect
damage. When you are storing your wool garments, make
sure they have been cleaned first so that you are not providing any food sources for
potential bugs. It is best to store your woolens in a cool
dry place in a breathable cotton storage bag with a zip closure. Because bugs can get into openings in a seater
chest over time, the seater will also occasionally lose its effectiveness the longer you have
it around. Also, storing in plastic encourages yellowing
and it might also provide a moisture that bugs will love. Optionally here, you can also include in the
storage box a sachet of about a half cup of dried lavender since bugs hate the stuff. And there you have it, all the techniques
necessary to properly and easily wash your wool sweaters and other garments at home. As we said, you can check out the previous
video in the series here and stay tuned for upcoming installments. So did we blow your mind that wool does not
actually shrink or did you have a different takeaway from today’s video? Whatever the case may be, share with us in
the comments below! And as always, do not forget to subscribe
to the channel and hit the little bell icon so videos like these will come right to you. In today’s video, I am wearing an outfit that
might be typically worn around the house taking a day to do a little bit of necessary garment
care. My medium blue cardigan is especially informal
given its two front pockets. I am wearing it over a shirt from Charles
Tyrwhitt that features a gingham pattern in blue and white. The shirt does have French cuffs but I am
wearing them configured in a barrel style today so that they fit better under the sleeves
of the sweater. My cufflinks are vintage silver ones and thy
feature a simple geometric pattern that compliments the gingham pattern of my shirt well. My plain brown trousers harmonize well with
my shirt and cardigan and on that note, you can check out how to effectively pair brown
and blue here. If you go along with this color scheme, my
socks are plain blue in color but they do feature a subtle stripe in their weave. The outfit today is rounded out by my dark
oxblood penny loafers which are informal in nature and also harmonize well colorwise. I am not really wearing many accessories today
aside from the vintage cufflinks but if you would like to take a look at some other types
of accessories, just take a look at the Fort Belvedere shop here.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Very interesting on how you got them back into shape as well as preventing them from losing shape in the first place. As winter starts to move to the exits I’ll have to try this with my sweaters.

    Please do a home washing tutorial for ties!

  2. Great video, I hate dry cleaning my wool garments and online guides for how to do it at home are contradictory. I assume the same would apply to wool trousers?

  3. Sven, I'm going off to Germany this summer for a high school exchange program. Are there any stores that you would recommend visiting while I'm in Hannover and Berlin?

  4. Thank you very much Preston!
    Question : can we use some regular shampoo such as those we use daily for hair? Thanks

  5. I am curious to know how plastic containers can yellow sweaters. Would it have the same effect on other items of clothing such as hats, shirts, and neck ties?

  6. Hey Sven, I thought I would ask if it was possible you did a video on C.P Company jackets and whether they are worth their money 👍

  7. Nailed it, Preston! From what I have seen, too many people use hot water, a harsh wash cycle (or an agitator washing machine), or a dryer…or a combination thereof, causing the wool to shrink and become misshapen. I always handwash and rack dry, but these tips are great to know, Thank you!

    Another method which you may or may not have heard of makes use of fluffy snow during northern winters. The sweater is immersed in dry snow and “washed” much like you would liquid water in a hand basin. Afterwards, you can use a light bristle brush to gently remove the excess snow before drying on a rack. Wool rugs were traditionally cleaned using a similar method in northern climates during the winter season.

  8. I usually throw sweater with washing bag in delicate mode with normal detergent , and airdry on a hanger (not normal hanging, rather i fold it in half on the rod). I found it fast and effective. And for suit i just use steamer to brush it and spot wash, ive never been into dry clean place because i didnt have a car back then. Now i found my way of cleaning effective, so i dont go to dry clean store even after i got my car.
    I might try the wool shampoo and the rolling technique. Thanks

  9. Another video saved. great advice, Just got 3 Ireland sweaters delivered today, Plus I have a host of others that this will help with. One trick for dress shirt Maintenence. Yellowing of Dres shirts t-shirts– I soak in sink or tub of hot water with some Oxi Clean powder added in – for collars I use a soft brush to scrub the color a little to agitate and whiten the stains. Maybe a video on dressshirt , t shirt and tie cleaning?

  10. Mind blown! A truly definitive guide to washing wool sweaters. Although I have researched this topic a number of times online, this is hands down the most well-researched and informative guide I have seen on this topic. Excellent! I would love to see a video on the care of linen garments and silk ties if possible. Thank you!

  11. I must know, is their any video that shows how to cover up the ears when dressing up, only because I don’t want to wear a bad looking hat, or overbearing earmuffs

  12. What about a whole coat? I found a wool Cashmere made in Italy coat at a thrift store but it needs a washing what should I do?

  13. I've always heard cedar blocks in drawers 🗄 help reduce moths & dust mites. I was unaware cedar liners could wear out over time… 🤔

  14. Preston, have you been getting tips from the Laundry Evangelist? I attended his Laundry Camp a couple of weeks ago. He had superb tips on textile care that overlap with the ones you presented.
    I should also comment that your presentations have improved as you have gained experience. Keep up the fine work.

  15. This was very informative Preston. I've now bought some laundry bags.
    Can I please ask you and Sven advice on what brands of shoe polish you recommend to keep my dress shoes and boots looking their best?

  16. excellent video. I learned a lot, thanks!

    You might have mentioned the very best way to clean a sweater, or a blanket, or even a suit. It is the method that was used one hundred years ago, but is only practical if you live in a place with cold winters. You roll your garment in clean, not wet snow. Then, you lightly brush or tap most of the snow out. Then, you dry your garment on a clothes rack.

    This works because snowflakes have an extremely large surface, just as activated charcoal has. This absorbs any dirt or excess oils that may be between between the wool fibers.

  17. To restore the effectiveness of Cedar-as with shoe trees- simply sand it with a high-grit sandpaper until the aroma is present again.

  18. Can I use this method on my cape coat which consists of 75% wool, 20% polyamide, and 5% cashmere. In addition on the instructions it tells me not to wash. I don't wanna have to take it to the dry clean and get it ruined either. Thanks!

  19. I'm trying it right now. I worry easily but I am trusting also.

    After washing……
    OMW!!!! It worked! You are truly awesome!

  20. Just hand washed my hand knit Arran in lukewarm water but in the process of handling to get it to flat dry wasn't careful enough with the water weight so it has stretched. Will now have to rewash by hand in hot water to shrink and be super careful as the weight of the water plus any wringing whatsoever stretches. Very difficult garment to deal with!

  21. Just a note on those shoes which look to have worn heavily at the back of the heel and need a trip to the cobbler. Such wear from walking and perhaps driving can be bad for the achilles tendons; achilles tendonitis is very painful and a torn tendon puts you on crutches, so check those heels!

  22. Okay. Now you've outdone yourself. I have one designer shrunken sweater that I'll be using the trick involving olive oil. Thanks much!

  23. Does the handwash method work good for deep stains? I want to get a wool sweater due to them being so warm, but worry about the possibility of accidentally spilling wine, or something else that's know for being hard to get out because it gets deeply embedded in the fibers.

  24. Just followed your instructions washing a merino wool sweater by Brooks Brothers, and it came out well. Nice and clean, no shrinkage and no felting. I used cool water in a machine set on hand wash. Thanks for this video.

  25. Help! I have left a wool dress in the sun to dry. It got yellowish. :(( How can I get rid of the yellowish color?? 🙁 ..I didn't know it cannot lay in sunshine. :(((

  26. Preston, I wish that I'd seen this video before I washed my Pendleton board shirts. I used cold water…but I really worked the shirts over by hand. Then I rang them out. Then I hung them on the clothes line on a hot day in the sun!!! The only thing I didnt do was set them on fire!! Unfortunately I didnt know that I could save these shirts. Knowledge is power!! I'm a Subscriber now! Thank you.

  27. I'm a knitwear designer. A good way of freshening knits is to air them outside on a cool dry day.
    I never put wool into the washing machine. Washing and friction causes knitwear to become fulled (not technically felting as that is a process of treating fleece, not yarns , although fulling makes knitwear into felt) Even water can cause some rubbing and fulling. I do not use washing detergents on my knitwear at all. I put it into tepid water (20 to 30°) and I use hair shampoo with built in conditioner, a tiny blob. Hair conditioner helps smooth down the scales of the fibres as it's the correct pH. Then I gently squeeze. I rinse in tepid water. I also use towels, many of them, and blot and roll and leave for about 20 mins then they soak the water. I then block on blocking boards. You can buy jigsaw shaped boards that lock together to make one big board. And it helps as well if you use blocking pins and block the sweater on a board with a grid. So if your chest measurements is 40" then you can block your sweater and pin out at approx 20" using the 1inch² grid on a blocking board as a guide. It's just as important to reshape your sweater for length too. The chain shape stitches of knitting pull at the sides where stitches are linked to the adjacent stitches and that makes older garments stretch widthways and compensate by shortening in length. Reblocking when wet helps retain shape and dimensions.

  28. Followed all of ur steps for washing a wool sweater that I bought on eBay in the washing machine. I needed to wash them as buying online u never know who or what wore the sweater before I got it lol. Everything work fantastic

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