How to wash knit fabric? (Wash and Care Knit Fabric)

Knit fabrics have the tendency to shrink after washing. Therefore, it should be washed by hand using cold water and mild detergent. If you are machine washing your knit fabric, it is recommended to select low spin, gentle wash settings and use a mild detergent like Woolite. That being said, if the knit fabric is labeled “dry clean only,” it’s best to take it to a professional dry cleaner.

Key Takeaways

  • Do not wash knitted fabric with the same load as zippers and hooks.
  • Wearing rings or bracelets when hand washing delicate items like knitted fabric is a common mistake that may quickly rip the knit fabric.
  • You should also avoid using bleach and harsh chemicals to treat a knit fabric. However, if the care label suggests then follow the instructions carefully.
  • It’s best to wash knitted garments by hand to be on the safe side.
  • For machine washing, make sure to use a gentle cycle, mild detergent, and cold water. Also, if possible keep the spin speed low.

What is the knit fabric?

Knitted fabric is a fabric made by interlooping or intermeshing yarns. It is usually made of one or more long yarns that loop and connect with each other to make sweaters, jumpers, scarves, socks, and other clothes. Knitted fabric is further categorized into weft knitting and warp knitting. In warp knitting, the loop runs up and down, while in weft knitting, the loop runs back and forth.

When it comes to knitted fabric, cotton is the most widely used material, especially because it’s inexpensive and easy to work with.

That being said, there are also knit materials made of wool, bamboo, and even polyester that can be used to make knitted clothes.

Furthermore, knit fabrics are also characterized by knitting techniques such as single-knit, double-knit, rib-knit, purl stitch, etc.

How to wash knit fabrics in a washing machine?

When it comes to washing knit fabrics in a washing machine, you will need to be very careful throughout the process.

It is best to check the care labels on knitted clothes to see if there are any special instructions. For example, the care label may contain specific instructions like “do not bleach,” “avoid fabric softeners,” “do not wring,” “do not iron,” etc., and so on.

Once you’ve read the care label carefully, you should treat knitted garments accordingly.

Let’s take a quick look at the step-by-step instructions to wash knit fabrics carefully using your washer.

Step 1: Sort your laundry pile

You can start by sorting your laundry pile by separating knit garments.

You can include other delicate garments made of wool, rayon, or silk along with your knit fabrics.

To keep knit fabrics from coming apart, separate the ones with hooks and zips.

Step 2: Place your knit garment in a mesh laundry bag

A knit fabric can easily get caught up in or tangled with other garments or objects. Thus, place the garment in a mesh laundry bag for added safety.

Alternatively, you can use pillowcases as laundry bags if you don’t have a mesh laundry bag.

Once you have put the knit garments in the mesh laundry bag, it’s time to place them in the washer.

Step 3: Water and detergent

Use cold or warm water during the wash and add mild detergent to the machine.

Avoid using hot water if you are not sure about the fabric type or if the care label seems confusing.

Using hot water will cause the delicate fabric to shrink and lose its strength.

You should also avoid using any harsh detergents or fabric softeners, as these can also damage the fabric. Instead, opt for a gentle detergent suitable for woolen fabrics; something like Woolite should do the trick.

Step 4: Run on a gentle cycle

Choose a gentle or delicate cycle and set the machine to run for a short time.

Usually, a gentle cycle uses a low spin speed that is safe for delicate garments. However, if your washer allows selecting low spin (RPM), then you should manually set it to the lowest setting.

Be sure not to overwash a knit fabric to prevent shrinkage.

Step 5: Drying your Knit fabric

Lay your damp knit fabric out on a flat surface and gently press it dry with a towel.

It is always best to air dry the knit garment by laying it flat on a drying rack or on a clean surface.

If the fabric can be dried in a dryer, just put the item in a mesh laundry bag and set the dryer to the most delicate setting and the shortest cycle time.

How to wash knit fabrics by hand?

Hand washing is the safest way to clean fabrics that are fragile or don’t have clear care instructions on the label.

As long as the fabric is tagged as washable, you can perform the manual washing method in most cases.

Here’s how you can hand wash your knit fabric safely.

  • Depending on the size or the quantity of your fabric, choose a container such as a sink, basin, or bucket.
  • Next, fill the container with warm water and make sure to fill enough water to submerge the knit fabrics.
  • Add a mild soap and you can also include a small amount of baking soda or distilled vinegar in the solution.
  • Stir and mix it well before you place the knit fabric in the container.
  • Let the knit fabric submerge into the solution.
  • Leave it to settle for about 10 minutes and then gently start swirling it in a circular motion. Doing this will discharge dirt accumulation from the knitting edges.
  • Rinse the garment with clean water and lay it flat on a surface to discharge excess water. Additionally, lay your damp knit fabric out on a flat surface and gently press it dry with a towel.
  • Do not wring the garment by applying too much pressure instead lay it on a dry towel to soak water.
  • Finally, put it on a drying rack or hang it to air dry naturally.
  • For fabrics suitable for machine drying place them in a laundry bag and run the tumble dryer on a delicate cycle using the lowest heat settings.

How to treat stains on knitted fabric?

Before washing the knitted fabric, you should start by treating the stains.

You can do so by applying a small amount of gentle detergent to the affected areas.

Next, work on the stains using your fingers.

Now, let the detergent settle for about 5 to 10 minutes before performing the final wash, i.e., a hand wash or machine wash.

Alternatively, you can use fabric-safe commercial stain removers to get the job done.

Why Should Knitwear Be Handled with Extra Care?

Knitted fabrics are delicate as they are made using delicate materials. So, if you don’t wash or store them correctly, they will lose their shape and shrink.

It is therefore important to read the care label thoroughly to follow the best practices to clean and protect your knitwear.

Final Thoughts

To keep your knitted clothes in good shape, it’s best to wash them by hand. If you still want to machine wash them, use a delicate cycle with cold water.

Additionally, you can place your knit fabric in a mesh laundry bag before putting it in the washer.

This will help to prevent its surface from tearing due to contact with the zips and hooks of other clothes.

As a best practice, you should always wrap the garment in a thick towel and roll it over to absorb moisture after washing.

Lastly, do not ignore the care label instructions, as the real secret to extending the lifespan of the fabric is mentioned right there.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can knitted clothes be washed?

In most cases, knitted clothes can be hand-washed or machine-washed. However, it’s important to go through the care label before deciding on the washing approach. Some knitted fabrics may have a care label that discourages washing.

Do knit fabrics shrink in the wash?

Knitted fabrics are prone to shrinking after washing. Therefore, it’s important that you don’t ignore the care label and follow the instructions mentioned there.

At what temperature do you wash knit clothes?

The ideal temperature to wash knit fabrics is 30 degrees or below. Knit fabrics should never be washed in hot water as they can easily shrink and fade.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)