How to wash sweaters? (Hand & Machine Wash Covered)

To wash your sweater, fill the sink or tub with cold water. Then, add a mild detergent and submerge the sweater in the water by turning it inside out. Next, let the sweater soak for approximately 20 minutes. Then, gently work on your sweater, followed by rinsing under clean water to get rid of the detergent residue. Lastly, air-dry the sweater naturally.

Key Takeaways

  • Always read the care label before choosing a washing method.
  • Not all sweaters are made the same, so not all types of sweaters are machine washable.
  • When washing, always turn the sweater inside out or place it in a mesh laundry bag.
  • Sweaters made of delicate fabrics such as wool should be hand-washed to be on the safe side.
  • Hand washing is considered to be safe for washing most sweaters.
  • Ideal washing machine settings for washing sweaters are gentle/delicate or hand-wash cycle along with cold water settings.

How often to wash sweaters?

In general, washing your sweater after five to six wears should suffice. The best way to extend the time between washes is to spot clean them when they get dirty. However, if your sweater begins to smell or feels dirty, you shouldn’t wait to wash it.

With all that said, you may need to wash the sweaters less frequently if they’re made of durable fibers such as wool or other synthetic materials.

The ideal frequency for washing your sweaters entirely depends on how often you wear them.

If you only wear them occasionally, then once every three to six wears should work great.

If you wear them on a daily basis, then you might need to wash them more frequently.

How long to wash sweaters?

If you are hand washing your sweaters, then it’s best to soak them for at least 15 minutes in soapy water and hand wash them for about a minute or so.

So, for handwashing, you will need at least 20 minutes to complete the washing process.

Whereas for machine washing, a delicate cycle may take up to 45 minutes or more.

So, if you are machine washing a sweater, it may take up to 45 minutes to complete the wash cycle in a washer.

Can you wash sweaters with other clothes?

Sweaters that are of similar fabrics can be washed together. However, avoid washing them with other clothes as it can cause the fabric to pill due to friction.

It’s always best to wash your sweaters separately or with other clothes that are of similar fabric.

If you want to wash all your laundry in one go, then it’s best to put your sweater in a mesh laundry bag. This will not only protect the fabric from pilling but will also wash all your clothes together without damaging them.

Can sweaters be washed in the washing machine?

In general, most sweaters are machine washable, but it’s recommended to read the care label thoroughly before washing.

There are different types of sweaters, and each sweater has its own specific wash instructions depending on the fabric type.

Machine washable sweaters are usually made from synthetic materials such as acrylic, nylon, or polyester.

On the other hand, sweaters made from natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and cashmere can be damaged in the washing machine. The agitation and heat from the washing machine can cause these fibers to shrink, stretch, or pill.

That being said, there are some types of wool that can be machine-washed on a delicate cycle/wool cycle with cold water (only if the manufacturer recommends machine washing).

But if you’re not sure, it’s always better to hand wash your sweaters.

How to wash sweaters in washing machine?

Machine-washing your sweater is a simple process, and you don’t need to do any special prep work for this.

All you need to have is a suitable detergent, a mesh bag, and the correct wash cycle setting for your sweater.

Instructions to machine wash your sweater

Follow the step-by-step instructions to machine wash your sweater.

Step 1: Read the Care Label

In most cases, the care label will have all the information you need to wash your sweater correctly.

Reading the care label helps you to choose the right method or approach you need to take in order to wash your clothes safely.

So, always start by reading the care label before washing your sweater in the machine.

Once you have confirmed that your sweater qualifies for machine washing, move to the next step.

Step 2: Pre-treat the stains if any

The next step is to identify and pre-treat any visible stains on your sweater.

This is an important step that you shouldn’t skip, as it helps to remove or loosen the stains completely before washing.

In order to pre-treat the stains, you can use a stain remover or mild detergent diluted in water.

If you are using a detergent solution, simply pour some diluted detergent water on the stained areas and work on the stains using a soft sponge.

Note: Do not try too hard to eliminate the stains; it’s OK if the stains are still present. Trying too hard to remove the stains can actually damage the fabric.

Step 3: Place your sweaters in a mesh bag

After pre-treating the stains, the next step is to place your sweaters in a mesh bag.

This helps to protect your sweaters from getting tangled with other clothes and also from damage that can be caused by the washing machine.

Note: Sweaters should not be washed with heavy or bulky items such as jeans or towels.

Step 4: Set your washing machine to the correct cycle

Now it’s time to set your washing machine to the correct cycle.

As we mentioned earlier, different types of sweaters have different wash instructions.

So, make sure you check the care label for the correct wash cycle.

Most of the time, sweaters can be washed on a delicate or wool cycle with cold water.

But if you’re not sure, stick to washing your sweaters on a delicate cycle with cold water.

Once the right wash cycle is selected, hit the start button and let the washer complete the wash cycle.

Note: Hot water can cause damage to the fabric and may also shrink the sweater. So, do not use hot water settings if the care label does mention it explicitly.

Step 5: Hang your sweaters to dry

Once the wash cycle is complete, take your sweaters out of the washer and hang them to dry.

It’s important that you don’t put your sweaters in the dryer as the heat from the dryer can damage the fabric.

Also, avoid wringing or twisting your sweaters as this can also damage the fabric.

Next, Fold and store your sweaters in your closet once they are completely dry.

When to consider hand washing your sweaters?

In some cases, hand washing may be the best and safest method to wash your sweaters. For example, if your sweater is made of delicate material or if it’s a vintage piece then you should wash it by hand.

Sweaters made of cashmere or wool are considered to be delicate, and it’s best to hand-wash them in order to retain their softness and heat-trapping ability.

Hand-washing can be a savior if your care label is confusing or lacks details.

So, if you don’t know the right method to wash the fabric, the hand washing option can be considered as it is less risky.

How to wash sweaters by hand?

Even though handwashing your sweater is time-consuming it gives you more control over the washing process.

Plus, it’s not complicated at all. You just need a sink or a tub, some mild detergent or suitable soap, and cool water.

Instructions to hand wash sweaters

Follow the below instructions to hand wash your sweaters safely.

Step 1: Fill a basin or sink with cool water

The first step is to fill a basin or sink with cool water.

For better results, you can apply some liquid detergent directly to the sweater and keep it aside until the sink or tub fills up.

Note: If possible, avoid using hard water as it can damage the fabric.

Step 2: Add a mild suitable detergent to the tub or sink

The next step is to add some mild detergent or suitable soap to the tub or sink.

Just make sure you use a small amount of detergent, as too much detergent can damage the fabric.

Note: You can even add half a cup of distilled white vinegar at this stage to soften and sanitize the fabric.

Step 3: Soak your sweaters in the soapy water

After adding the detergent, it’s time to soak your sweaters in soapy water.

Allow your sweaters to soak for at least 15 minutes or more, depending on the type of fabric.

This helps to loosen the dirt and grime from the fabric.

Step 4: Work on your fabric (Hand wash)

After soaking the sweaters for some time, it’s time to wash them by hand.

Start by lightly rubbing the fabric in a circular motion to work the soap into the fabric.

While doing so, be sure not to apply excess pressure as it may cause the fabric to pile.

Step 5: Rinse the sweater by hand

Once you’re done working on the fabric, rinse the sweaters thoroughly with cool water to remove all the soap residue.

In order to completely eliminate the soap residues, you can empty the sink, pour fresh clean water (without detergent), and thoroughly rinse the sweater.

Step 6: Hang your sweaters to dry

After rinsing the sweaters, squeeze out the excess water (without wringing or twisting) and hang them to dry.

In order to squeeze out excess water, you can lay the sweater flat and gently press down on it with a clean towel.

Note: Avoid using a dryer, as the heat from the dryer can damage the fabric.

How to wash sweaters without pilling?

Turning sweaters inside out and washing them by hand is the best way to prevent them from pilling.

When clothes are put in a washing machine, the friction between them rises, which is why pilling occurs in the first place.

Therefore, in order to avoid pilling and washing the sweaters safely, you can either hand wash them gently in cold water or machine wash them using a laundry mesh bag.

Furthermore, to make the washing process even more pilling proof you can make use of enzyme-infused detergents formulated specifically to keep the pilling away.

How to wash sweaters to keep soft?

Often, your sweaters become stiff after washing if detergent residues are not flushed out properly.

So, it’s important that you get rid of the detergent and fabric softener residues after every wash.

In order to keep your sweaters soft and fluffy, you can wash them with some fabric softener or white vinegar.

However, the issue with fabric softeners is that if you use them too often, they may end up damaging the fabric in the long run.

Therefore, as a best practice, what you can do is after every wash, rinse the fabric with distilled white vinegar in order to maintain the softness.

Vinegar’s natural fabric softening properties combined with mild acid not only help to soften the fabric but also help to get rid of the detergent residues.

How to deodorize the sweater?

You can deodorize the sweater by either using commercial sanitizers, vinegar, or baking soda.

To deodorize the sweater using a vinegar solution, add half a cup of distilled white vinegar to the water used for rinsing.

Or, you can also make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sweaty areas of the sweater.

Leave it on for 15 minutes before washing it off with cool water.

Alternatively, you can pour diluted baking soda solution or vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of your washer and let the washer complete the wash cycle.

How to dry sweaters?

The best way to dry the sweaters is to air-dry them naturally by hanging them over a clothesline in a cool and shaded area.

It’s best to avoid using a clothes dryer, as most sweaters do not tolerate heat that well.

Also, avoid hanging your sweaters in direct sunlight as it can cause the fabric to fade.

It’s best to let your sweaters air-dry naturally as it helps to keep the shape of the sweater intact.

When to dry clean your sweater?

You should always respect the care label on your sweater if you want it to last for a long time.

So, if the care label recommends dry cleaning, it’s wise to follow that instruction rather than searching for a magic trick to clean your sweater on the internet.

With that said, if the care label is missing or has faded, then you need to be very careful about washing your sweaters.

In such a case, if your sweater is made of delicate materials like cashmere, silk, or wool, then it’s best to dry clean it.

Final Thoughts

Since sweaters come in different types of fabrics, the cleaning procedure may vary. Therefore, it’s important that you read the care label before washing them.

Depending on the care label, hand or machine washing is fine for sweaters, but they shouldn’t be thrown in with other items of clothing as that can lead to pilling.

If the care label recommends dry cleaning, then it’s best to follow that instruction.

Lastly, it’s best to air-dry them naturally and avoid using a clothes dryer or drying them under direct sunlight as it can damage the fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to wash knit sweaters?

To wash your knit sweater, add some liquid detergent made specifically for washing delicates to the washer’s detergent tray. Next, put the sweater in a laundry mesh bag and let the washer run on the shortest cycle. Once the wash cycle is completed, air-dry the sweater naturally.

How to wash wool sweater?

Woolen sweaters should be washed on wool settings in your washer. If your washer does not have that setting, set your washer to delicate or gentle cycle settings.

How to wash sweaters without lint balls?

Before putting your sweater in the washing machine, use a lint brush or fabric shaver to remove any pilling from the surface of your sweater. This will help to avoid any further damage to the fabric during the wash cycle.

Can you hand wash a dry clean only sweater?

Dry clean Only fabrics or sweaters should be hand washed. It’s best to stick with dry cleaning to be on the safe side. With that said, these days you can easily get dry cleaning kits that you can use at home or simply take your sweater to a professional dry cleaner.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)