In order to clean wool sweaters without absolutely ruining them, you need to know about proper wool care and maintenance. You can't just throw any wool sweater into the washing machine, hit a few buttons until it turns on and expect that's the proper way of how to clean a wool sweater. The likelihood if you do that is it won't come out of the washer as expected. Here are things you should know about how to clean a wool sweater so you don't end up going to the store to replace it.
If that’s what the wash instructions say or if you’re willing to pay for dry cleaning and for an easier cleaning job, bring it to the dry cleaners. Dry cleaning uses a special and sophisticated process that doesn't involve water in cleaning your wool sweater, and doesn't involve throwing your wool sweater in a dangerous machine that'll toss it around for up to an hour to try to get dirt and stains out. Dry cleaning is perhaps the easiest solution for cleaning wool sweaters, but can be very expensive because of how complicated a process it is.
If you have to machine wash or hand wash your wool sweater, pre treat stains first and let the treatment sit before washing. By pre treating the stains and letting the treatment sit, you loosen up stains before you start washing so they come out easier. Without pre treatment, you may have to wash your wool sweater several times over to get a stain out, or the stain just might never be removed.
Reverse your sweater so you’re doing less damage to the outside of your sweater, which is visible when you wear it. By flipping your wool sweater inside out, you're protecting the outside part of your sweater while washing it, and the water and detergent will penetrate through just fine for a clean job.
One option for cleaning your sweater if you're not going to dry clean it is hand washing it, so you can be gentle on the wool, minimizing damage to your sweater. Also, when you hand wash your clothes individually, there’s no chance other colors could bleed onto your wool sweater and vice versa.
If you don't want to hand wash your wool sweater and don't need to go through all that trouble, machine wash it with similar colors so the colors don’t affect the look on other clothes. Also, make sure to machine wash it with cold water so it’s less likely your wool sweater will shrink. Wool is a material that’s very susceptible to shrinkage and shrinks more than most other fabrics. Hot and warm water can shrink or even loosen the fibers of your wool sweater, so your wool sweater might come out as a different size later.
Since cheap or even complicated detergents can damage your wool sweaters, make sure you use a simple detergent without special fragrances or bleach. This is to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals you use with your wool sweater; reducing the chance you might damage it during wash.
Never wring your wool sweaters dry since wringing wool will stretch and compress the fibers in a dangerous way, compromising the wool's quality when it's finally ready to wear again. To remove excess water from your wool sweater after washing, lay it on dry towels which will absorb excess moisture and cover another towel over your wool sweater, then sandwich the towels and sweater together to push water out of the sweater to be absorbed by the towels. This way you won't have a dripping towel that will be ready for hanging.
The tumble dry process can damage the wool on your sweaters, and expand or shrink them, depending on the wool content of the sweater. Basically, hot tumble-drying will compromise the quality of the fibers, giving you a wool sweater that will never be the same as before. To dry your wool sweater, hang dry it in a ventilated area.
Before doing anything, make sure to check the wash care instructions so you know what you can and can’t do. Some wool sweaters are meant to be dry cleaned only, and whether or not you have the budget, you should dry clean them since doing anything else will ruin the sweater, which will cost you more money to replace. Other wool sweaters need to be hand washed, so know that before you throw anything into the washing machine. Also, some chemicals are forbidden for use on some of your wool sweaters, so before washing and even pre treatment, make sure you know what sort of things your wool sweater can tolerate.