There are only a few months each year when wool and cashmere sweaters can be worn. Otherwise, those favorite sweaters spend most of their time in closets or drawers where they are at risk of becoming misshapen, stretched out, or falling victim to moth holes, which are the result of clothing moths, according to Jordan Muto at Today.com. “Those pesky holes in your sweaters, scarves, and coats are a result of the adult moths laying eggs on your coziest goods. The eggs morph into larvae, which feed on natural fibers like wool, cashmere, and silk,” Muto stated.
Beyond storage, proper washing and folding of your sweaters during the months when they are worn is important, as well. It helps sweaters maintain their shape and keep issues like sweater pilling at bay.
Caring for your sweaters during the winter season and protecting your favorite sweaters during the months and months they spend in storage is crucial. Proper storage and care ensure that sweaters aren’t damaged at any point throughout the year. Here is how to protect and care for your favorite sweaters and cardigans so you have them for years to come.
The first step to ensuring that your go-to sweaters look as good as new is simply following the care instructions on the tag. If the tag says don’t iron your sweater, then follow that rule. If your cashmere sweaters are dry-clean only, bring them to your neighborhood dry cleaner. Those instructions are there for a reason, and many of the fibers in winter sweaters are too delicate for just a regular wash and dry cycle.
Ruining a sweater by not following the care instructions is a frustrating mistake, but an avoidable one. Be sure to check the tags and make sure your partner is aware of the care instructions, too, so it doesn’t accidentally end up in the washer with your family’s flannel pajamas.
When packing your sweaters up after a winter season, it’s crucial to properly store them to protect them from moths and items that snag fibers. According to Lisa Milbrand from Real Simple, storing sweaters in an airtight bag or container is an ideal way to keep them safe. Beyond that, it’s important to make sure sweaters are washed and clean before putting them into storage, “when it's finally time to put your sweaters away for the season, make sure they're clean—crumbs or stains might attract pests or become harder to remove after months in storage,” the article noted. Millbrand added that scents like lavender and cedar naturally keep pests away, so it could be a good idea to pack your airtight storage container or bag with lavender or cedar.
Lastly, it’s necessary to make sure the area where you store your sweaters is not damp or humid—basements and un-airconditioned attics are not ideal.
Proper storage of sweaters during the winter is important—hanging sweaters can cause them to stretch, and piling sweaters with items with zippers or embellishments can cause sweater pulling. During the winter, sweaters should be folded and kept in a protected dresser drawer.
If your sweaters don’t explicitly call for dry-clean only, it is safe to wash your sweaters on a gentle cycle at home.
In the Real Simple article, Millbrand suggested that when washing your sweaters at home, it’s important to turn them inside out. This way, “wear and tear happens on the inside of the garment—not the part you see when you're wearing it,” Millbrand wrote. It’s also a good idea to button, snap, or zip your sweater before washing to help reduce the risk of pulls or snags.
An article by ThreadUp.com states that washing your sweaters every three to five wears is sufficient because many sweater’s non-delicate nature and the fact that there is often a tank top or t-shirt layer between your skin and a sweater. The article specifies that “cotton, silk, and cashmere should be washed after three or four wears, while wool and wool blends can make it for five or more.”
Drying sweaters in a hot dryer can lead to sweater shrinkage, according to Millbrand’s Real Simple article. Instead of drying your favorite sweaters, simply reshape it after washing and lay it flat on a towel to dry. This helps sweaters keep their shape.
Taking care of your favorite winter sweaters is just as important as investing in fine cashmere and quality wool sweaters. When cared for properly, your favorite sweaters stay in excellent condition for years, or even decades.