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Knitwear care

Knitwear care - how to care for your wool garment

Wool has natural anti-bacterial properties and is resistant to odours and dirt so 100% wool knitwear needs washing infrequently. Instead, spot clean spills and hang it outside to air on a fine day to refresh it. When the time does come to wash your garment you can either dry clean it or follow our hand washing guide below.

How to hand wash wool jumpers (and other knitwear)

Follow our step-by-step guide for best results:

Wash wool items when the weather is fine or you have a nice warm room to minimise drying time.

Wool hates heat! Use cool to lukewarm water rather than hot, with a mild detergent made for delicate fibres such as wool and silk eg Lux soap flakes or wool shampoo. Wool has a neutral pH so requires a mild, neutral detergent.

Let the garment soak for a few minutes and move it gently in the water. Take care not to rub the fibres together as this can cause matting of the fibres which will change their structure.

Rinse out detergent by refilling the basin with fresh, cool water and letting the garment soak again. 

Gently squeeze the garment to allow water to drain from it - never wring it out. Remove as much water as possible by gently rolling it between two towels

The drying phase is really important in maintaining the garment's shape. ALWAYS DRY THE GARMENT FLAT and out of direct sunlight. This is crucial as the weight of excess water can pull the garment downwards and out of shape. Use a knitwear drying rack over a bath if you have one. Otherwise, an indoor drying rack with a towel placed over the top is a good idea.

While the jumper is damp, gently reshape it back to its original dimensions, focusing on the width, length and sleeves. You may even want to measure your jumper prior to washing it so you can check it at this stage to ensure it dries to the correct fit.

How to maintain knitwear

Jumpers and cardigans are best stored folded as hangers can cause pressure on the neck and shoulder area causing it to stretch out of shape and may even lead to breakage of fibres at the neck. This is especially important for yoke and seamless garments which get their shape during the knitting process, rather than being constructed of knitted panels which are sewn together. 

Garments made from wool will develop little balls on the surface of the fabric with wear which is known as pilling. This is an entirely natural process. Wool fibres are covered in microscopic little "hairs" which help trap heat and therefore give real wool garments such great warmth. However, as these little hairs rub together during wear, they can matt together which causes them to form areas of pilling. These tend to be seen mostly in the areas of greatest movement and wear such as under the arms, around the cuffs and hem of the garment. These small balls can be removed when required to refresh the look of the knitted fabric surface. They can be hand picked or alternatively there are many devices available to purchase such as small wool combs or mechanical fabric shavers. 

How to store knitwear

Here in the north of Scotland, knitwear can be worn year-round. However, if you store your knitwear over the warmer months then it is best to clean it first as dirty items can attract moths. Don't wrap it in plastic, instead using a bag made from breathable fabric such as cotton. 

You may want to use natural moth repellents in your drawers and storage bags such as lavender sachets and cedar balls.