How to Wash a Wool Sweater

Rajiv Surendra proves that not only is it possible to wash your wool sweater at home without shrinking or damaging it, but it's also remarkably easy.

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April 25, 2023
Rajiv Surendra Smiling In a White Wool Sweater

Rajiv Surendra Shows How to Wash a Wool Sweater

When it comes to washing wool sweaters, there are plenty of tips and tricks for getting it right. Rajiv Surendra shares his method for washing wool sweaters at home rather than taking them to the dry cleaners. The method involves hand washing the sweater in a sink full of wool detergent.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

Do you really have to dry-clean a wool sweater? No! Skip the trip to the dry cleaners and wash your wool at home. Sure, there’s an art to washing wool without shrinking it, but it’s not as tricky as you might think. By hand-washing your wool sweater in your sink, you can maintain its size and ensure it stays as soft as the first time you wore it. And since there's no need to wash wool sweaters regularly, we recommend waiting until your sweater is ready for a good cleaning.

How to Wash a Wool Sweater

A White Wool Sweater Hanging on a Wooden Hanger

A Wool Sweater Drying After a Hand Washing

After washing a wool sweater by hand, it's important to let it air dry flat on a towel. Once it's almost totally dry, hang the wool sweater on a wooden hanger.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

As sweater season comes to a close, your favorite wool pieces probably aren't looking or feeling their best. Follow these steps to safely clean and remove stains from wool sweaters.

Materials Needed

  • (2) towels
  • measuring tape
  • notepad and pen
$4.97

This hypoallergenic formula is gentle on skin, hands and clothes, and minimizes fading, shrinking and stretching on fabrics like wool, silk, cashmere, cotton, satin and polyester.

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1. Lay the sweater flat and take some measurements. Measure from the top of the shoulder seam to the bottom hem and note the measurement (Images 1 & 2). Next, measure from the hem of the sleeve to the seam (Image 3).

2. Fill a sink with warm water. The water should be warm to the touch but not hot.

3. Mix in wool laundry detergent. While the sink fills, mix in a laundry detergent suitable for wool, following the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper ratio.

Man Pouring Detergent Into a Sink

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Fill the Sink With Wool Detergent

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home is to fill the sink with water and pour wool detergent in the sink.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

4. Fill a bucket with the same temperature water. Leave the water on and fill a bucket or other vessel with the same temperature water for rinsing. If you have a two-compartment sink, simply fill both sides.

A Man Filling a Bucket With Water

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Fill a Bucket With Rinse Water

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home in your sink is to fill a bucket with rinse water that is the same temperature as your wash water.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

Pro Tip: It's imperative that your wash and rinse water are the same temperature. While many people think it's hot water that shrinks the wool, it's actually the change in temperature that shocks the wool, resulting in shrinking.

5. Put the sweater in the water. Fully submerse the sweater in the soapy water.

A Man Washing a Sweater With Blue Gloves

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Wash the Sweater by Hand

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home is to hand wash the sweater in your sink with gloved hands.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

6. Gently wash the sweater with your hands. Donning a pair of rubber gloves, use your hands to gently work the sweater in the water, refraining from rubbing the material on itself, as this can turn the wool to felt.

A Man Hand Washing a Sweater in a Sink

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Wash the Sweater Gently

The next step in hand washing a sweater is to gently work the sweater in the wash water with gloves.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

7. Gently rub highly soiled spots. For spots that are highly soiled, such as the cuffs and collar, gently rub the material with your fingers.

8. Let the sweater soak. Let the sweater soak for a while until the water has cooled to room temperature. This will remove even more dirt.

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9. Adjust the temperature of the bucket water if necessary. Check the rinse water. If the water in the sink has cooled significantly, add some cold water until the temperatures match.

10. Gently remove the sweater and squeeze the water out. Lift the sweater out of the water and gently compress it to squeeze the water out. Do not wring the wool sweater — while this will remove more water, it will also severely damage the material.

A Man Squeezing Water Out of a Sweater

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Squeeze the Water Out

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home in your sink is to gently squeeze as much water out of the sweater as possible.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

11. Drain and clean the sink. Drain all the dirty water from the sink and rinse away any leftover dirt.

A Man Rinsing Out a Sink

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Wash the Dirt Down the Sink

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home in your sink is to rinse out all of the dirt left in the sink.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

12. Pour the bucket of water into the sink. Stop the sink once more and pour the rinse water into it.

13. Rinse the sweater and squeeze it once more. Lower the sweater into the rinse water and gently work it to rinse all the soapy water.

A Wool Sweater in a Filled SInk

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Rinse the Sweater

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home is to place the washed sweater in a sink filled with clean rinse water.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

14. Lay a towel out flat. Lay a towel flat out on the counter.

15. Place the sweater flat on the towel. Compress the sweater once more to remove most of the water, then lay it flat on the towel. Straighten the sweater and the sleeves.

A Wool Sweater Laying on a Towel

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Place the Sweater on a Towel

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home is to place the washed sweater flat on a clean dry towel.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

16. Fold the towel over the sweater and roll it up. Fold the bottom and top of the towel over the sweater, then roll it up.

A Man Rolling Up a White Towel

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Roll the Towel Up

The next step in washing a wool sweater is to roll it up inside of a dry towel to help remove the water.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

17. Squeeze the towel. Gently squeeze the rolled towel, allowing the towel to draw the moisture out of the sweater.

A Man Squeezing a Rolled Towel

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Squeeze the Towel

The next step in washing a wool sweater at home is to squeeze the rolled towel to remove as much moisture from the sweater as possible.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

18. Remove the sweater and place it on a clean towel. Unroll the towel, remove the sweater, then place it flat on a second dry towel.

A Man Laying a Wool Sweater on a Towel

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Lay the Sweater Flat to Dry

The next step in drying a wool sweater after washing it at home is to lay it flat on a clean dry towel to allow it to fully dry.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

19. Check the measurements and shape the sweater to match the original measurements. Compare the sweater’s current measurements with those from before the wash. Gently pull the sweater to stretch it if the measurements are now shorter. If the sweater is longer, pull the sides outward. Allow the sweater to air-dry on the towel.

A Man Pulling the Sleeves of a Sweater

Hand Washing a Wool Sweater: Adjust the Measurements

The next step after measuring a wool sweater after washing it is to adjust the fabric to match the measurements from before the wash.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

20. Try the wool sweater on. Once it has totally air-dried, try the wool sweater on to ensure it still fits.

Rajiv Surendra Trying On a Wool Sweater

Rajiv Surendra Tries On a Wool Sweater After Washing It

After washing a wool sweater and allowing it to dry, Rajiv Surendra tries it on to ensure it still fits properly. Rajiv's method for washing a wool sweater by hand in a sink will save you a trip to the dry cleaners and ensure your sweater stays the same size after washing.

From: HGTV Handmade

Photo by: Phillip Reed

Phillip Reed

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Keep your cozy sweaters looking fresh for years to come with these tricks to un-shrink, de-fuzz and more.

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