Do you have a favourite jumper that you just can't bear to part with or a favourite new addition to your wardrobe that you'd like to keep in tip-top condition? Our ultimate care guide to jumpers shares the most useful tips from our in-house expert buyers. We'll show you how to take care of your jumpers to last longer and keep their shape and softness.
How to prepare for washing
Your jumpers will last longer and keep their shape if you take the time to prepare them for washing. The first step is to check the care label. This will tell you what type of jumper you have and the kind of wash your jumper can handle. If it's delicate wool or cashmere, you may need to hand-wash ( unless the label tells otherwise) or if your washing machine has a myriad of spaceship-like settings, a hand-wash or wool setting is perfect.
If the washing symbol care label says your jumper is machine-washable, then you can pop it in with similar colours on a cool or gentle cycle. But we would always recommend using a wool or cashmere detergent to be extra careful. You might also want to put your jumpers in a mesh laundry bag before washing them to stop them from snagging on other clothes or getting tangled up. This is especially important for delicate materials like sequins and beads.
Once you've prepared your jumpers for washing, you can start the cycle unless you've got some nasty stains to remove, which we've advised below. For hand-washing, fill up a basin or sink with cool water and add a small amount of detergent. Gently swirl the jumper around in the water until it's fully saturated, leaving it to soak.
Removing stains & pen from jumpers
For light stains, you can try using a topical stain remover on the affected area. If the stain is more stubborn, then you might need to soak the jumper in a solution of cool water and detergent for a few hours before washing it.
To remove pen marks from a jumper, you can try using hairspray or alcohol. First, blot the area with a clean cloth to remove as much of the ink as possible. Then, apply a small amount of hairspray or rubbing alcohol to another clean cloth and dab it onto the stain. Keep dabbing until the stain starts to fade. Once the stain has faded, you can wash the jumper as normal.
How to de-bobble or de-pill your jumper
Pilling is when small balls of yarn form on the surface of your jumper. It's usually caused by friction from clothing, bags or even just everyday wear, over time. Pilling occurs when the textile fibres rub together and form little fuzzy bobbles, which can happen most noticeably in areas where you rub against your skin (such as underarms), or if another layer interacts with it such as when wearing a coat over or another material underneath. This occurs because there are two surfaces coming into contact.
Wash knitwear inside out by hand or on the appropriate setting to minimise pilling, using a delicates liquid detergent and only when necessary – over-washing is not necessary.
If washing by machine, washing in a mesh laundry bag works a treat to keep your jumpers away from other nasties in the drum. Choose a delicate cycle that will lessen the agitation of the knitwear in the drum and try to keep your cycle as short as possible. We don't recommend a fabric softener when washing jumpers; these will soften the fibres of the yarn and therefore you'll see more pilling in the future.
Removing those bobbles!
To remove pilling, we always recommend you start small and softly. Brushing your knitwear using a bristle brush or using a lint roller and making some gentle passes over your jumper is adviseable but most effective is the use of a specialist cashmere comb. You should brush, comb or roll your jumper regularly to keep on top of this. This minimises the need to wash your jumper. Our go-to for any de-pilling is using a cashmere comb. It's designed to distribute evenly over the surface of the yarn without nicking or pulling individual threads. Whatever you do, don't use tweezers or a knife. You risk doing more harm than good to the perfectly fine layers of your jumper below the existing bobbles.
How to hand wash your jumper
We personally would always try to hand wash any jumper first and always hand wash natural wool. It's better for your garments and will keep them looking better for longer. If you're going to hand wash your jumper, always use cool water and a delicate detergent. Fill up your sink or basin with cool water and add a small amount of detergent. Gently swirl your jumper around in the water until it's fully saturated and then leave it to soak. Once it's finished soaking, you can rinse it in cool water and then lay it flat to dry. Never wring out your jumper, as this could damage the fabric. If you're not sure whether your jumper is colourfast, always test a small area before washing it. To do this, wet a cotton swab with some of the detergent and gently rub it on a small hidden area of the jumper. If the colour transfers onto the cotton swab, don't wash your jumper in this way. Instead, take it to a dry cleaner and have them clean it for you.
Drying your jumper
Once your jumper is washed, it's time to dry it. The best way to dry a jumper is to lay it flat on a towel and then roll it up. If you need to speed up the drying process, you should be extremely careful. We always recommend letting your jumper naturally dry. If drying cashmere jumpers you should only dry naturally. If your jumper is not cashmere and the care label suggest you can use a machine, then you can place your jumper in machine for a short spin. Some newer washer/dryers have a specific knitwear setting for tumble drying, however use it at your own peril! We would always recommend air drying where possible. It'll be dry before you know it so why rush?
Using a towel
If you're using a towel to dry your jumper, make sure it's a clean and absorbent one. We recommend using a plain microfibre towel that's already washed (to avoid colour transfer), as these are designed to absorb wetness quickly. Avoid using a cotton towel, as this can cause the fabric of your jumper to stretch. Once you've chosen your towel, gently place your jumper on it and then roll it up. This will help to get rid of any excess water. Once you've done this, you can unroll the jumper and lay it flat on another towel to air dry. Never hang your jumper to dry, as this can cause the fabric to stretch and lose its shape.
We always recommend you should dry your jumper flat. This is the best way to preserve the shape of your jumper and to avoid any unwanted stretching. To dry your jumper flat, simply lay it out on a clean (non-coloured) towel and then leave it to air dry. Always flat dry sweaters (wool, cashmere & other blends) or other knitwear out of direct sunlight. Line drying or drying on hangers indoors can cause knitted garments to stretch due to the weight of the moisture contained by the garment, with the result that the garment mis-shapes and your much-loved jumper won't ever look or feel the same to wear. Also, avoid using a hot space such as a drying room, a sauna or an airing cupboard. We've seen them all being used with nasty results!
Reshaping your jumper after washing
Always pull your jumper back into its original shape and size. If you're using pegs or pins to keep your shape when drying, avoid using any metal that is prone to rusting with moisture. Instead, use plastic or wooden pegs. Your jumper should naturally re-shape when you dry flat, using a towel, out of direct sunlight and allowed to dry naturally. You may find that some areas of your jumper may pop out of shape, such as shoulder humps or where you've pegged to maintain the silhouette. You'll have these humps sorted in a jiffy by hand. Dip these areas in warm water (30°C to 40°C) and massage these areas gently by hand to agitate the fibres. Allow to dry flat and your jumper will be back in shape.
Ironing or pressing your jumper after washing
Once your jumper is dry, you can either iron or press it. If you're going to press your jumper, make sure you use a low heat setting and give it a little steam. We recommend using a pressing cloth between the iron and the jumper, as this will help to protect the fabric. Pressing is a great way to get rid of any wrinkles or creases in your jumper, without damaging the fabric. It will also help to relax the fibres and regain its shape.
Easy steps for ironing your jumper
- Keep your iron setting low. For woollen jumpers choose the wool, medium or 2-dot setting. Any hotter and you could scorch your jumper.
- Take your time. Constantly check under the cloth to reshape your jumper after each pass of the iron.
- Moisten the jumper with a little spray of de-mineralised water. This will make crease removal and reshaping easier.
- After ironing, lay the garment flat on your kitchen table or work surface for around 5 minutes folding your jumper. This will prevent further creasing.
What to avoid when ironing wool jumpers
- Don't iron your jumper if the care label says "do not iron". It's really that simple.
- Refrain from applying heavy pressure. You can always make many light passes instead.
- Don't allow your iron to stand for any length of time on your jumper. You'll scorch your clothing and possibly ruin it beyond the point of no return.
- Don't use spray-on starch, softeners or conditioners as these can lead to the presence of deposits on your jumper.
We hope you found our ultimate care guide to jumpers helpful! Do you have any top tips for taking care of your favourite clothes? Let us know as we'd love to feature your top tips.
Please note: The advice given in this blog post is general advice only. Always check the care label before washing your clothes. Wool, cashmere and other delicate materials may require special care. If you're unsure, we recommend taking your jumper to a professional dry-cleaner.
The Cashmere & Cotton Team.