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How to Take Care of Knitted Clothes

How to Take Care of Knitwear

The best ways to store, wash, and depill all your knit pieces.

By Emma Steinbergs

I don’t know about you, but sweaters and other knitwear have come to take up a large portion of my closet—a shift that reflects the minor but meaningful casualization of my wardrobe in recent years. Inherently stretchy and often suitable for a wide variety of settings, high-quality knitwear is flexible in every sense of the word. It’s relaxed, sophisticated, comfortable, and size-fluctuation-friendly. What’s not to love?

Admittedly, knitwear does have one hangup: It can seem difficult to care for. Since knit garments are made from one single length of yarn, they can develop snags or even start to unravel with improper maintenance. And when it comes to natural fibers (e.g. wool blends and cashmere), we all know that moths are eager to wreak havoc on our most luxurious investment pieces. But fear not: With a few simple tips, you can keep your knitwear pieces in tip-top shape for years to come. Below, discover step-by-step advice that covers every part of the process—from how to wash knit pieces to how to get rid of pilling.

How to Take Care of Knitted Clothes

How to Wash Knitwear

Many knit garments, especially those made from natural fibers, must be hand-washed or dry-cleaned due to the risk of shrinkage. Always follow the instructions on your pieces’ care labels; if they don’t allow for machine washing on a gentle cycle but also don’t require a trip to the dry cleaner, rely on handwashing.

  • STEP 1: Put your knit piece in a large basin or sink, and fill it with cold water. (Using warm or hot water can cause felting, which leads to pilling and shrinkage.)
  • STEP 2: Add a small amount of your preferred delicates detergent (or a wool & cashmere shampoo if applicable).
  • STEP 3: Gently swish the garment around in the soapy water to distribute the shampoo, then let it soak for about 10 minutes. Never soak your knits or delicates for more than 30 minutes.
  • STEP 4: Drain the basin, then refill it with clean, cold water. Gently rinse your piece without agitating it too much, then drain the water again.

Note: Remember only to wash your knits when necessary! Frequent washing will only make them pill faster.


How to Take Care of Knitted Clothes

Use cold water to avoid shrinking knit pieces.

How to Dry Knitwear

Most knits will shrink from the dryer heat and will “grow” (gradually stretch) if hung on a rack, so you should air dry them flat.

  • STEP 1: Position your piece to lie flat on a clean towel, then roll it up and carefully squeeze to get out excess water. Never wring out your knits.
  • STEP 2: Unroll the towel, then dry flat. Lay your garments as flat as possible. You can use the top of a drying rack, for example.


lay knit flat to dry

We like to fold in halves, but you could also fold in thirds or roll your knit pieces. Test out different methods to see what works for your closet space and setup.

How to Store Knitwear & How to Fold Knitwear

Avoid hanging your knitwear. Over time, the weight of the garment can cause it to stretch out, and the edges of the hanger can make the shoulders pucker. Instead, opt for folding.

  • STEP 1: How you fold your knits is based on personal preference. We like to fold ours in halves, but you could also fold them in thirds or roll them. Test out different methods to see what works for your closet space and setup.
  • STEP 2: If you’re packing your sweaters up for the summer, first treat them with a wool & cashmere spray that contains cedar. This will give your pieces a better chance of staying moth-free.
  • STEP 3: Put them in an air-tight container or bag, then store them in a dry place. For extra insurance, you can always add a cedar block to your storage bin or invest in a few pheromone moth traps.


How to Get Stains Out of Knitwear

When in doubt, bring your piece to the dry cleaner. Just dealing with a small stain? If you’re confident you can handle spot cleaning it, the faster you act, the better.

  • STEP 1: Wet the garment thoroughly or at least enough to completely cover the stain.
  • STEP 2: Apply a generous amount of a gentle stain solution. Make sure it’s safe for whatever type of yarn you’re dealing with, and be careful not to use anything with bleach unless your garment is stark white.
  • STEP 3: Get a good lather going with the soap, and gently rub it into the fabric to remove as much of the blotch as you can.
  • STEP 4: Let it rest for a few minutes, so the stain has a chance to lift.
  • STEP 5: If you see that the stain has faded, try rinsing it out. If it’s stubborn, proceed with washing as usual.


How to Get Rid of Pilling on Knitwear

When it comes to natural yarns, all pieces eventually pill. But the longer you have and care for your cashmere, the less it will pill—kind of like a new rug that sheds at first but needs to be vacuumed less over time.

  • STEP 1: When pilling occurs, use a sweater stone or hand-held depiller device. If all the pills don’t come off, don’t force it. They might not be ready to shed quite yet.
  • STEP 2: Don’t take to depilling as soon as you see a new one crop up. Instead, expect to refresh your piece every season (or whenever a new batch becomes noticeable) so as not to cause unnecessary friction on your piece.


Written By

Emma Steinbergs

Emma is M.M.LaFleur's Brand Manager. She previously worked as an M.M. stylist and still loves thinking through styling challenges and solutions for customers.

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