Here's Exactly How to Hand-Wash Your Favorite Sweaters So They Don't Ruin or Stretch

Anyone who's ever done laundry knows how delicate some items can be. Whether it's lacy intimates or bulky knit sweaters, sometimes the washer and dryer aren't exactly kind to your favorite items of clothing. And unfortunately, you can only wear sweaters so many times before they start to be in need of a refresh. When it comes to pullovers, cardigans, and other knits, the idea of washing them by hand can seem tedious, but spending the time can be worth it to avoid a snag or tear. From cashmere to wool, and even down to polyester, this is a great hand-washing method for your coziest clothes!

1. Wash Sweaters in the Sink

Before you wash any sweater by hand, turn it inside out. This can help to prevent any pilling or friction in the fibers. Next, fill a clean sink (or bathtub, if you're doing a few sweaters at a time) with lukewarm water and a mild soap, shampoo, or dish soap. It's important not to use water that's too hot or too cold to avoid shrinkage or stretching. If it's been a really long time since you last washed your sweater, add a bit of white vinegar to get rid of body odor. Make sure the sweater is fully immersed in the water, then let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. For tough stains, gently work in a stain remover (I personally swear by OxiClean!) with your hands and let the sweater soak again.

2. Dry Sweaters Carefully

When the sweater has had time to soak, rinse it with clean water. Then, squeeze as much of the water out as possible by wringing it out gently, being careful not to stretch the sweater. You can put some sweaters in the dryer on a low spin cycle for five minutes to get more moisture out; just check your sweater's label to be sure. Sweaters are best left to dry on a flat, hard surface with a clean towel underneath, out of the sun and heat.

3. Avoid Clothes Hangers

When it's dry, fold the sweater neatly and place it in a drawer or on a shelf. Never hang sweaters on clothes hangers, as this can cause stretching and leave your sweaters misshapen — sometimes irreversibly. A neatly folded sweater will stay fresh and wrinkle-free, and will be good as new when you're ready to wear it again.