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We used to do a lot more hand washing of fine fabrics, including delicate lingerie and nice sweaters, than anyone does today. I grew up doing laundry the old-fashioned way for the most part, but today, I use the convenience of automatic washer and dryer for everything except nice sweaters and delicate clothing, which I still treat the way my mother taught us to do.
Wash in mild soap and cool water, rinse well, and either dry on hangers, line dry, use gentle cycle of dryer, or flat-dry on towels. Although those things may have changed a little over the years, we still rinse the same old way to get the sweetest smelling and softest sweaters. The final rinse should have some Tone or other sweet smelling bath soap rubbed into the water. Not much, just a little bit to slightly cloud the water is fine.
Rinse the hand washed items, and place on several thicknesses of dry towels (pay attention to the colors you're using) and allow to dry flat. We use the tops of washer and dryer for this. If you roll the wet clothing in a dry towel first, but do not twist, just gently squeeze out all the water possible before laying them out onto dry towels, you'll find your clothing will stay looking like brand new and retain their lovely colors for as long as you treat them this way.
There are a few tricks our grandmothers and mothers used that no technology is going to make better, and this is one of them.
Source: My Mother and every other lady I knew when I was a child.
By Julia from Boca Raton, FL
Never spend money on special laundry detergent for woolens that need gentle care. The cheapest baby shampoo is just as mild and effective and you need very little of it. I use just a squeeze in the detergent compartment of the washing machine for two or three wool items.
By Lucy from Oxford UK
If you don't have any Woolite handy or would like a cheaper alternative, try this.
Soak the sweater in water for 5 minutes. Squeeze suds through fabric and remove any soil. Never pull, stretch or twist the fabric while cleaning. Rinse all the soap out of the fabric and gently squeeze out much of the water.
Then take the damp sweater and lay it between two towels. Roll up the sweater and towels like you would a bed roll. You may need to do this a couple of times. Then you will want to lay the sweater out to dry. Make sure the sweater is back to its natural shape before you set it out to dry because it will dry in whatever shape you leave it in. If you hang dry wool sweaters they will stretch so dry it flat.
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Does anyone have a suggestion on how to wash a wool sweater without a dry cleaner? My daughter loves her Christmas present, but I cannot afford to keep getting it dry cleaned.
By Jackie from Buffalo, NY
Simple: use a mild soap or detergent and wash and rinse in thee same temperature water (but not hot warm or cold is best) just swish the sweater around and squeeze a few times do not wring spread out on a large towel and roll very tightly, repeat the last step until your towel is just damp should not take more than 3 towels.
Let sweater dry flat on the bed on a dry towel. Hot water will stretch the sweater.
One of the tricks I learned, was that because wool is hair, you can use hair products to clean it. When you wash your wool hats or sweaters, wash them with shampoo. In the rinse water use a tiny bit of conditioner as a "fabric softener." Just be sure to rinse all the conditioner out of your garment when you're done.
You could use "Woolite" or Dryel. I kind of like kffrmw88 answer. That would save you money.
Be sure not to wash wool items in hot water and 'do not place washed items' in the dryer or they will shrink.
My mom taught me a long time ago -before gentle cycles- to wash a sweater by hand gently in a sink of barely warm water and delicate soap. Swish it gently, maybe rub a spot a bit. Rinse to remove soap. Wring out very gently and lay it flat on a fluffy towel.
I use Dryel sheets on my sweaters. It's so easy and safe. I put like colored sweaters in the dryer on medium heat, throw in a Dryel sheet, and tumble dry for about 20 minutes. They come out wonderfully soft and fresh smelling. Plus I don't have to worry about shrinkagae, colors bleeding or any of the other hazards of washing them.
If they get a spot on them the Dryel sheet packet tells how to treat that too.
When I absolutely have to wet-wash a sweater, I hand wash it using baby shampoo. It's extremely gentle, and very inexpensive too since I buy it at the $1 store. Also just a small amount of hair conditioner (also from the $1 store) will make it come out nice and soft. I use the same method that Coolcook described so well.
Also Deeli pointed something out too. Once a sweater has gotten wet, don't put it in the dryer or it will shrink and get out of shape.
Woolite and do not wring dry. Lay the sweater flat on a towel and roll up into the towel to soak out all the excess water - you may have to use 2-3 towels. Lay on flat surface to dry. You may have to stretch the sweater to its original size and pin in place so that it will dry to correct size. Do not use hot water as it will shrink. Shrinkage can go from a size 12 to a baby size.
I used to collect antique clothing and learned a great deal about handling delicate fabrics. I was taught to NEVER use Woolite as it leaves a residue.
Thanks to you all! Say a prayer I am going to try to wash her sweaters tomorrow. :o) Thank you all once again for the great ideas. Jackie
There is a website called How to Clean Stuff I believe the address is www.howtocleanstuff.net You might find your answer there. Good luck :-)
wasshrunk: could you share exactly how you handle delicate fabrics?
I got 2 pretty sweaters (cardigans) for Christmas and would like to know how to properly wash them. The last time I owned a sweater I washed it and it came out looking dull with lots of tiny balls and lint on it. Any advice?
Look along the seams of the sweaters to find the care guidance label. Laundering information may be printed or in symbols so I'm posting a link to the international laundry symbols charts:
After you've found and deciphered your label, browse the laundry pages for more information on laundering sweaters-the guide has posted a lot of excellent information on all kinds of laundering situations.
Care for your wool items at home instead of paying for expensive dry cleaning. This is a page about using shampoo to wash wool.