Avoid a Funeral for Your Favorite Sweater

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Willow loves sweaters. They are the pride and joy of her wardrobe. She can dress them up or  dress them down, but they are always warm and always soft. 

The ONLY downside about sweaters as far as Willow is concerned is that care instruction tag that always has some very special and very inconvenient washing instructions. 

We recently lost a favorite sweater to a washing incident, so this is a PSA on sweater care with the hope that you can avoid the current state of mourning that Willow is experiencing. 

It was a regular Wednesday evening – we were at home watching our favorite show, Friends, and Willow was enjoying some rice pudding with cinnamon on top. But then the unthinkable happened… she spilled. We never expect to spill, that’s why we still buy white sweaters. You’re a grown woman, you’ve handled much worse than tricky stain-inducing condiments with grace and poise so bring on the dijon! 

Well, the cinnamon on top of the rice pudding decided to settle into Willow’s new favorite white sweater that evening and it just went downhill from there. Maybe wipe it with a damp cloth? Nope, it’s just getting worse. Maybe wash it on cold? It’s over… the white sweater was never the same again. Even on cold, this wool sweater shrunk a full size and the shape of the body never came back. 

It was very sad, but here is the silver lining. The sweater was only one week old, which means it was still in stock and we could order another one. I guess the lesson is that if you are going to ruin one of your favorite sweaters, just get it over with quickly so you still have time to get another one before they sell out. 

We’re here to make sure this never happens to you (along with a lot of other mistakes we’ve learned from that we can help you avoid). Here is what you need to know about taking care of your favorite sweater: 


Wow, sorry that came off a little harsh. But seriously, sweaters aren’t made to withstand the tumbling, rolling, and jostling of modern washing machines. Fill your sink with cold or lukewarm water, soak your sweater for a good rinse, then drain the water. Fill it with new water, add a wool-specific soap (The Laundress New York has several good options), and agitate the water with your hands so it is full of bubbles. Move your sweater around a bit and then let it sit in the soapy water for five minutes. Go make a cup of tea, come back, drain the water and rinse your sweater under running water until the water dripping out of the bottom is clear. It is important to handle your wet sweater as a ball, as it is significantly heavier when wet, and picking it up by one area can cause the fibers to stretch out and the sweater to lose its shape.


Okay, no more yelling, my fault. This is actually the most important part and you probably already know it, but never ever dry a sweater. The heat will do a marvelous job of shrinking and deforming it into an unrecognizable version of what used to be your favorite sweater, so save yourself the heartache and never let your sweater see the inside of a dryer. So we’ve established that we are going to let it naturally dry, but there’s more – there’s always more. Lay out a bath towel on a solid surface like a marble counter top. Pick up your soaking wet sweater as a ball and set it on the towel. Spread out the sweater so that it lays flat and avoid letting it dry in any area where it will be in direct sunlight. You don’t want to let it hang dry on a drying rack or hanger because the weight of the wet sweater will pull the shape out of it. Drying it flat on its back is the way to go. 

What if my sweater isn’t wool?

Good point. Your favorite sweater could be wool, cashmere, alpaca, or even cotton (read this to know which clothes should NOT go in the dryer). The issue is, sweaters are crafted using a knitting technique that is more delicate than the way a cotton sweatshirt is made, for instance. If it’s cotton either way, how do you know if it’s a sweater or a sweatshirt? If you wouldn’t think twice about wearing it on your Peloton ride, it’s probably a sweatshirt. If it looks just like a wool sweater, but it’s actually cotton, it’s a sweater. Because you aren’t wearing your sweater on your morning workout, it doesn’t need to get washed after every time that you wear it, which makes this hand washing fiasco look a little less like a fiasco. 

There is everything you did and didn’t care to know about taking care of your favorite sweater, all in the hopes that you never have to hold a funeral for it due to an untimely date with warm water and a washing machine. 

P.S: If you really aren’t feeling the whole hand washing routine, a quick-fix trick you can try is placing your sweater in a mesh laundry bag and leaving it in your freezer overnight. This is going to kill any of the odor-causing bacteria and give you a fresh start, but it won’t do much for a cinnamon stain.

Comments +

  1. […] dryer, it is never going to look or fit the same again. First, it is going to shrink a full size (don’t believe me? Full proof here). If that isn’t bad enough, the heat will also disfigure it beyond recognition so that your […]

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