Tips & Techniques

Caring for Yarn Wearables


You've put long hours and loving effort into a terrific yarn project. Whatever it is , a gorgeous afghan, poncho, sweater, scarf, pair of mittens, or dog sweater , you'll want it to look great for a long time! Here are some basic tips to help keep your knit or crochet projects looking their best, washing after washing.

Pre-Wash Hint:

Knits will stretch when wet. To avoid garment stretch when washing by hand, lay the dry garment on a sheet of butcher paper or other plain paper, and draw an outline around it. After washing, you can use this ‘template' as a re-shape guide for the drying process.

Washing Your Knit Wearables:

  • Use a mild washing soap made especially for wools and knits, or you can even use shampoo! If shampoo gets the oils out of your hair, why not your knits, too!
  • Fill a clean basin with cool to lukewarm water, and add about 1 teaspoon of shampoo to the basin to wash one garment. Follow manufacturer's directions if using pre-packaged wool and knit washing products.
  • Let the garment soak for about 15 minutes.
  • Gently ‘agitate' the garment for a minute or two to loosen soil and debris.
  • Drain the water while gently pressing the garment against the side of the basin to remove excess dirty water, being careful not to wring out the piece.
  • Rinse with cool to lukewarm water until the water runs clear. During the rinse process, continue to press the garment against the side of the basin. Do not wring out the garment as this will distort the shape.
  • If desired, you may add about a teaspoon of fabric softener to the rinse water. Then, rinse again, pressing the garment to drain excess water.
  • Lay a towel out flat and place the garment on the towel, shaping as you go. Roll the towel up with the garment on the inside. With your hands, press on the rolled-up towel. This removes much excess water from the knit.
  • If you already have a screen-type sweater dryer, you can place the garment on it for the final drying process. Gently shape the garment to its original form.
  • If you don't have a screen for drying, place another clean, dry towel on a flat, non-porous surface.
  • Let dry thoroughly. Drying time varies depending on density of knit and room temperature and humidity conditions. Avoid drying in a dryer, as most knits will shrink.

More Tips: 

Check the yarn labels for specific washing instructions. The Craft Yarn Council of America has standardized washing symbols on all new yarn labels. Look for these first!

Be advised that if you are using a wood surface, the moist towel will penetrate it and potentially ruin the surface of the wood. In this case, you'd be wise to lay a plastic bag of the appropriate size under the towel first!

Don't hang wet knit garments on hangers. This will stretch the stitches.

When towel drying, use a white towel for light-colored knits, and a dark towel for dark-colored knits. Make sure the towels are colorfast, or have been previously washed to avoid any color bleeding.

If using commercial cleaning products specially made for knits, always follow manufacturer's washing instructions.